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Sunset for Ryelands Park band stand as demolition date announced

Author: 
John Freeman

Work to remove the bandstand on Ryelands Park will begin on Thursday 1st June, its condition now in such a poor state that it is beyond saving.

The bandstand, has been a feature on the park since the 1960s after it was moved from Morecambe, but not used for its true purpose in decades. Sadly, it's been the subject of repeated vandalism over the years and no repairs - beyond making it safe - have been made for some time.

(A bid to move the Ryelands Park bandstand to Happy Mount Park in Morecambe was rejected by city councillors in 2012).

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Ryelands Park band stand
Ryelands Park band stand

Sadly, it has now deteriorated to the point where it is unsafe and will be removed as part of the approved masterplan for the park.

A fence was put up around the band stand some time ago, when the roof - which had rotted - became unsafe. Vandalism continued and the cost of repair appears to have outweighed money available to repair it due to council budget cuts.

Demolition is supported by the Friends of Ryelands Park, a group of local people who volunteer their time to help make improvements to the park.

Working with the city council, the group is currently working towards applying for Green Flag status, the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom, which would mark the park out as one of the best green spaces in the country.

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An old postcard of the Ryelands Park band stand in it original location on Morecambe Promenade
An old postcard of the Ryelands Park band stand in it original location on Morecambe Promenade

Stephen Wearden, chair of the Friends, said: “Ryelands Park has the potential to be one of the best areas of green space in the district and a real community asset.  A lot of hard work has gone into delivering improvements but the bandstand is starting to let the park down and with it the chances of gaining Green Flag status.

“We are supportive of the bandstand’s removal and this will allow us to concentrate our energies in delivering sustainable projects that will bring greater benefits to local residents and other visitors to the park. 

"It is unfortunate that such an icon of the park has got to such a state, but it is now working against the promotion of the park, projecting a picture of neglect and decay rather than the instantly recognisable trademark image that it once was.”

“Various attempts have been made to maintain the bandstand over the years following incidents of vandalism and the like," added Mark Davies, Lancaster City Council's Chief Officer (Environment).

"During our consultation on the future planning for the park there was no evidence that people wanted a bandstand in the park, or wanted to divert resources to restoring one" he claims - contradicting a report in the Visitor in 2012 that that public consultation which gained 1700 responses into proposals for the Park had suggested the community viewed it as an “iconic feature”).

“The resources the council has, combined with the fantastic efforts of the Friends group, are focused on delivering the agreed masterplan for the park.”

 

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The new look planned for Ryelands Park after local consultation
The new look planned for Ryelands Park after local consultation

Working together the Friends group and Lancaster City Council have delivered a number of recent improvements including a wild flower garden and orchard, development of and adult health trail and delivery of the accessible play area.

Despite its current state, many locals have fond memories of the band stand in better days although many recognise the problems with vandalism meant repairs would be wasted.

I can't believe it's being allowed to deteriorate," commented Lorraine Aitchison on Lancaster Past and present back in January when the band stand's state was again discussed. "I used to eat my lunchtime sandwich there sometimes in the summer when I attended Skerton Girls School (in the mid 1960's). Such a shame."

"So many memories when I was little playing here," said Sue Arthrington. "Such a waste to let it go,"

For more information on the masterplan visit Lancaster.gov.uk/ryelands-park

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Comments

As a Friend for Ryelands Park, I want to clarify that not all of its members were in favour of demolishing the bandstand. There is also no evidence that the bandstand deteriorated due to vandalism (unless you count pigeons in the rafters and broken glass on the concrete base). According to bandstand expert, Paul Rabbitts, who visited the bandstand in 2012, this was 'the worst case of wanton vandalism BY A COUNCIL that I have seen'. You can read his views on the bandstand in his blog. While I understand that it is too far gone to repair without great cost, I do think that blame should be allocated where it is due and that it is offensive to Skerton locals to blame them for the council's neglect of this historical landmark. This would never have been allowed in Williamson Park.