Marsden Park's Bandstand hosts sounds amid the rockery
Marsden Park and bandstand have long been an integral part of the Marsden Jazz Festival. The bandstand has been a venue for musicians for many years. Originally affected by the weather, recent improvements have included lighting, an electricity supply for microphones and the addition of panels, designed and manufactured to provide musicians with some shelter from the elements, particularly with the festival taking place in October!
But have you ever considered how it came about?
It was during social reform in the 1850’s that attention was given to the plight of the poor and provision for public parks formed a part of this, through the Parks Movement. As a respite from poor living and working conditions, and to improve health and wellbeing, Marsden followed the national trend with some of its wealthy industrialists donating a large field opposite Ing Head, for the purpose of a ‘pleasure ground’.
Commissioned and built between 1910 and 1912, as the only public recreational space in the village, the park was designed with features common in other parks. These included a lodge at the park entrance, enabling the park keeper to monitor visitors and day to day park activity. Other features included a bandstand, bowling green and tennis court.
The planting of hardy plants and trees formed an important part of the park. Few of the population had their own gardens at this time and the park was thus able to provide both access to nature and the opportunity to learn about horticulture. A perimeter path was designed to encourage visitors to take a healthy walk in the fresh air. Seating was also given high priority.
‘The seating should face a view, to enrich the soul of the park visitor’
‘This new park was a place of beauty and relaxation, set in the midst of the industry and mills of Edwardian Marsden. It was the only park in the Colne Valley.
The park’s rich history of music started right at the beginning, with records showing the first concert performance of Marsden Brass Band in May 1912. According to the Colne Valley Guardian, ‘quite a large number of people listened to the programme of music submitted and expressions of satisfaction and pleasure were frequently heard’.
Band concerts have proved to be enduringly popular with local inhabitants throughout the years. There are frequent references in council minutes to the booking of bands to play in the bandstand throughout the summer months and many local newspaper reports about the excellent concerts.
Marsden’s last resident park keeper, John Casson, recalled that you would know when the band was on its way as you would hear them playing as they marched up Peel Street to advertise the fact that they were going to be playing in the park.
With thanks to The Friends of Marsden Park for allowing us to use information from Marsden Park Centenary 1912 – 2012, A History of Marsden Park by Friends of Marsden Park.