Proposals for a
In Princes Street Gardens to replace the
History and Background
The First Bandstand
I don't know when the first bandstand was
installed in West Princes Street Gardens. There was certainly a
bandstand there in the 1870s, when the gardens were private and only open
to the public on special occasions.
In 1878-80, 'The Scotsman' newspaper
reported that Edinburgh Councillors had been discussing how this old
bandstand should be removed and where to. The councillors were
making plans for creating the gardens as we know them today with their
broad straight walk at the foot of a bank sloping up to Princes Street,
and installing a new bandstand in 1880.
When the new (1880) bandstand was installed, it
was proposed to re-locate the old one "in a grass plot not far off as a
shelter to the young from the rain, and to the old from the sun."
This is the bandstand that can be seen in many of
the early postcards of Edinburgh. It was an octagonal bandstand, 28
ft in diameter, paid for with a £500 donation from the Princes Street
Proprietors, west of Hanover Street.
The acoustics of the bandstand were tested by the
band of the 50th (Queen's Own) Regiment on March 11, 1880.
The first public performance from the bandstand
was given by the 71st Highlanders on 16 June 1880. Then, throughout
the summer, there were performances every Wednesday.
By the summer of 1881, three evening performances
and two afternoon performances were being held each week.
bandstand in West Princes Street Gardens was replaced by a larger
bandstand, The Ross Bandstand, which had fixed seating for 2,500.
Ross Bandstand was gifted to the city in 1877 by William Henry
Ross, Chairman of Distillers Co Ltd. It is still in use today, but is
considered to be no
longer suitable for the wide range of events and the sizes of audience
that the city would like to accommodate.
A Bandstand for the 21st Century?
In recent years,
Edinburgh Council has made a number of
about the possible replacement the Ross Bandstand, particularly following
its failure in high winds on
Hogmanay 2003 which caused Edinburgh's main New Year event to be
council announced, in April 2006, that it wishes to see a new
multi-functional performance space created on the site of the Ross
Bandstand. It proposes to bid for lottery funding to contribute
towards the cost.
Architects, Make Ltd, have provided
illustrations of possible
designs, each featuring a 'new bandstand' built into the landscape.
Three designs have been prepared in order to stimulate
debate. Each design is shown by day and by night. They are described as:
- a leaf
- a shell
- a grassy knoll (or landform).
All the daytime illustrations and one of the
night-time illustrations include a couple of shapes, coloured red, yellow
or white, on each side of the arena. These apparently represent
canopies over the entrances to new public toilets which are buried into
Make Ltd also propose that a new bridge
should be built over the railway to give vehicle access to the back of the
bandstand, and that there should be lifts giving access for disabled from
Princes Street to the gardens.
Size and Timescale
The 'new bandstand' is expected to hold 10.000
spectators for the larger events,
including 4,500 on the grassy banks on either side of the main
seating. The total cost might amount to £14m and it may take five
years from 2006 to complete the project.
Edinburgh Council and other stakeholders are now
considering the results of the feasibility study that accompanied the
A brief for this development is to be drawn up.
An international competition. will be held to select the firm to take the
The notes above are based on:
1. The Scotsman:
- Mar 30, 1878, p.8
- Oct 17, 1878, p.6
- Dec 26, 1878, p.1
- Jan 29, 1879, p.8
- May 6, 1879, p.3
- May 9, 1879, p.4
- Mar 12, 1880, p.4
- Jun 16, 1880, p.6
- Jul 9, 1881, p.6
2. Edinburgh Evening News, April 19,
3. Brief description of the three
proposals from architects, Make
4. Edinburgh City Council News
Release, April 21, 2006