Built in 1905, this is the last traditional bandstand in Bromley, made famous by glam rock icon, David Bowie. The Beckenham Bandstand hosted many national and civic celebrations over the decades, but none more famous than the Free Festival of August 1969, when Bowie played for the people of Beckenham at the bandstand. The Festival coincided with Woodstock in the US: three days of peace, free love and music.
“The children of the summer's end gathered in the dampened grass/ We played our songs and felt the London sky…. Climbing through the ivory vibrant cloud/Someone passed some bliss among the crowd/ And we walked back to the road, unchained” – Memory of a Free Festival, David Bowie. ‘Life on Mars?', Bowie's 1971 song, is thought to have been penned on the front steps of the bandstand.
The bandstand is being restored this spring and the young people have met the conservators working on the project, even having a go at the gilding themselves.
“It's crazy how much music culture owes this bandstand,
We need to pay it back!"
Jordan, age 15
Oliver Williams, a student from Arts University Bournemouth chose this project to create a scale model of it in its restored state for his degree project. This was then shown at HOLT's annual conference for 2023 and on a fundraising stall for the bandstand at Soultown Music Festival in Brockwell park.
"It's a beautiful piece of British culture, It's been amazing to imagine how good it'll look once it's been restored."
Groups of students from St Joseph's College discussed restoring the bandstand at global law firm Jones Day as part of Proud Prospects.