Wednesday, September 5, 2018

From Rooftop Bandstand to King's Hall

The Pavilion, Herne Bay, Kent, on a steep slope, 1904-1912. Public Domain
Where historic North American bandstands were usually built of wood due to an abundant supply from forests, bandstand builders in the United Kingdom had access to a ready supply of coal and ore which were processed into poured cast iron or hand-wrought iron. Although both wood and iron could give decorative results, the iron bandstands had the advantage of longevity. Or at least they did until World War II came along and many of them were dismantled and melted down to make arms and ammunition. 

In my August 5th post, From Bandstands to Bandshells, I posted about the Herne Bay Bandshell, built in 1924, and how people called it the New Bandstand because an older one was further up the beach. Today's post is on the older one, which is quite confusing because when it was built in 1904, it replaced an even older bandstand on the same site.

The  rooftop bandstand was created during Phase 1 of a two phase project which cut into the hillside to create what was called the East Cliff Pavilion during it's colorful opening. Inside the small combination theater, concert hall, and dance hall, the windows were dressed with Venetian blinds, each room had gas brackets, and fresh air inlet ventilators ensured a supply of the sea air. 

The Bandstand & Pavilion, Herne Bay, Kent, 1908. Public Domain
The above postcard doesn't show a band in attendance, but according to the Wikipedia description, "There is a lot of reading, sewing, knitting and wearing of best clothes going on." Built during the British Raj era, the architecture of India is reflected in the pavilion's graceful and elaborate ironwork which has lasted throughout the years.

Elaborate Ironwork of Bandstand & Pavilion, Herne Bay, Kent, 1904. Public Domain
Phase 2 of this monumental project was the removal of a big enough chunk of the cliff for the creation of a new entertainment hall with seating for 1,500 people. The original pavilion, which couldn't hold more than 300 people, became the vestibule into the King Edward VII Memorial Hall, known simply as the King's Hall.

The next two postcards show how the King's Hall extends from the original pavilion toward the street and possibly even under it. 

The Bandstand & King's Hall, Herne Bay, Kent, 1913-1914. Public Domain
The Wikipedia description for this one says there are bathing machines in the image, but I only see cabana-style wagons which I thought were change rooms. Here's another view:

The Bandstand & King's Hall, Herne Bay, Kent, 1920's. Public Domain
Flash forward to 2011 and the King's Hall is still in beautiful form.

King's Hall Interior, Herne Bay, Kent, 2011. Creative Commons
And although the bandstand is gone, the platform remains where it once stood on the rooftop terrace of the King's Hall entrance amid the original ironwork which has been painted for beauty and endurance. Perhaps there is hope that the bandstand will rise again one day and entertain the crowds in the open sea air instead of merely having it piped inside.

King's Hall Interior, Herne Bay, Kent, 2011. Creative Commons
The evolution of the Herne Bay bandstands into modern structures show change due to circumstances. Vision was needed to build them, and appreciation kept them in place. The amazing fact is that although the rooftop bandstand itself is gone, the rest of the ironwork escaped the melting pots. 

Care to share your thoughts? Do you know what bathing machines they are referring to in this post? Have you stood inside a bandstand make of ironwork?

Other posts in this historical bandstand series can be found:


Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are written under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details.  Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience.  Discover more at:


  1. I vaguely seem to remember something about it not being appropriate in earlier times to actually get IN the water in mixed company? Thus the enclosed structures? I might be making this up but I do think I've read something about this at one time. Great post, and that last building is amazing!

    1. Connie, your theory could explain why the earliest bathing images show groups of one gender or another, where images after World War 1 start showing mixed company. By that time, many people were simply relieved at being alive, and the restrictive Queen Victoria had been gone for over a dozen years.

      Interesting take on the bathing machines, Connie. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Those are beautiful. I've never seen an old bandstand like shown in the pictures above. They were quite elaborate. In that first picture, I couldn't help wondering how many ladies had tripped on their long dresses and rolled down that steep hill.

    1. I never thought of them rolling down the hill, Vickie, but it sure would make a great scene in a story. Especially if the hero tried to stop her and they rolled down in each other's arms and ended with a splash! 😁

      There are a few early ironwork bandstands this side of the pond and I'm going to feature a couple of them in my next bandstand post, so stay tuned, and thanks for dropping by today.

  3. Fun post, Anita Mae. As usual, the photos are wonderful. This is a neat series!

  4. I enjoyed this Anita Mae. I need to go back and read the previous posts.

    1. Thanks, Connie. I hope you do look at the other posts as my aim was to pay tribute to the founders of our communities who saw music as a necessity to life.
      I appreciate you stopping by and letting me know you were here. :)

  5. Very interesting, and of course the structures are beautiful. I love to see old structures being saved...the last photos are also wonderful to show---great places to enjoy the ocean.

    1. They are beautiful, aren't they. Your comment reminds me of the phrase to "stop and smell the roses". We need to stop and see why structures were built where they were in the first place. If someone wants to tear it down, they MUST answer the question of whether it's a matter of necessity, or bowing to popular trends of the time. Trends don't last, but generations are pulled back to see what their ancestors saw.

      Thanks for the visit, Sandi. Much appreciated.