ABERYSTWYTH’S brand new Bandstand had its official opening last Thursday (Oct 13) and many people gathered around to take part in the celebrations.
Carl Sargeant AM, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, and Cllr Dai Mason, Ceredigion County Council Chairman, led the ceremony to welcome the new addition to the Aberystwyth Promenade.
The atmosphere was noticeably uplifting; the sun was shining, the sea was calm and the Brass Band (members of Penweddig School and Penglais School) were practicing songs on the stage beforehand.
The thought of being in the well-established building surrounded by many people who were there to pay tribute to the new design made the environment even more special.
The former bandstand building was built as a permanent bandstand in 1935 and was opened on the same day as King George V Silver Jubilee celebrations.
After a number of years and modifications, the original design was replaced by coverage and then sides and a roof were added.
It was periodically updated during the 60s, 70s and 80s and was displayed as a functional single storey, steel and timbre enclosure with a seating area, stage, small ancillary rooms and toilets.
A poignant use for Aberystwyth, the original bandstand became a focal point for the community by hosting local musical performances, dances, and other events.
After support was given for development by Aberystwyth Regeneration Area Initiative, funded by the Welsh Government, December 2011 saw public consultation exercises. The public voiced their wishes that the priority project was the future of the bandstand.
The next step that followed saw Capita Symonds commissioned by Ceredigion County Council to consider the options available that would achieve maximum regeneration effect, with the aim of deciding on a preferred option to take forward.
The old bandstand building was demolished and financial help was given from the Welsh Government. With this fund, a new contemporary purpose-designed £1.2 million bandstand and seawall were erected in its place.
Designed by in-house architects of Ceredigion County Council, the new building has remained on the foundation of the much-loved old building and the original perimeter wall and piers have been retained and refurbished as a historical feature.
The new bandstand follows a contemporary design, with glazed front to draw visitors into the building and internal multi-purpose performance space with flexible internal units that can be adapted for different uses. A distinctive dual height circular standing seam zinc roof with high level aluminium-framed windows. A new glazed clay block insulated cavity wall that wraps around the building, the bandstand also has LED feature lighting in a shadow detail above to highlight the circular roof form.
Rear folding sliding windows have been inserted facing the sea which provides panoramic views of Cardigan Bay and when opened together with the front folding sliding doors, the space is transformed into a semi-traditional open-sided bandstand allowing both beach and promenade users to enjoy musical performances.
In addition, blackout curtains have been added to the windows to allow the same space which featured in the original building. The permanent tensile canopy has also been erected at the front in order to provide more audience space out onto the promenade.
The new bandstand now has a design that will be used for sustainability and durability, and will host many performances along with providing gallery and display space for the local community.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Ceredigion County Council Chief Executive, Bronwen Morgan, gave a warm welcome to everyone who attended and said that it was a pleasure to be gathered in the new bandstand on a beautiful autumn day.
Explaining a bit about how the new design was created, Ms Morgan said that all of the construction companies (namely WB Griffiths & Sons Ltd Team, Bullock Consulting Ltd- Mechanical &Electrical Consultants and Ceredigion County Council’s Estates, Project Management and Development Team) had worked through all of the worst storms and managed to complete the building.
Ms Morgan then went on to share with the attendees that her dad once sang in the male voice choir in the original bandstand and that she sang in the local choir. New ideas are also always welcome to build on the banstand’s success.
Thanking everyone over the years who have attended the bandstand to ensure that it stayed open, Ms Morgan went on to say that there will be much more fun and laughter to be had in the future, calling Aberystwyth Promenade the ‘Jewel and crown.’
Thanking the team for making the project come alive, Ms Morgan stated that the re-curving in the wall around the bandstand is now there to make sure that the waves hit into the sea rather than onto the Promenade as a result of the storms that Aberystwyth has had to face in recent years.
Sending further gratitude to Menter Aberystwyth for providing entertainment in the bandstand throughout the summer, Ms Morgan concluded by saying that the bandstand can be closed if need be unlike the original design and that it can now look very striking on the Promenade.
Ms Morgan then handed the stage over to Cllr Dai Mason who began by stating that the new bandstand has put Aberystwyth ‘back on the map’. The newly refurbished bandstand, as Cllr Mason puts it, is a ‘new twist on the old style bandstand’ and has been a fantastic opportunity for the area.
As he joked that the lovely weather made a change from the stormy weather Aberystwyth has recently had, Cllr Mason finished by telling those who attended the opening that the result of the new bandstand goes to show what we can to together as a community and by working together.
Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, told those who attended: “I’m grateful to the Welsh Government for their funding support to this project through the Aberystwyth Regeneration Initiative. The new bandstand’s design has fitted very well into the Aberystwyth townscape, housing a contemporary performance space that is well placed to continue to provide enriching experiences for tourists and local residents alike.”
Carl Sargeant AM, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, said: “I am delighted to mark the official opening of the Aberystwyth Bandstand. I visited here twice in 2014 in the aftermath of the January storms.
“The storms devastated the Promenade and made the headlines across the world. It is fantastic to return and be part of such a positive event and marking the resilience of the community.”
He then went on to say: “I am pleased the Welsh Government has been able to contribute £571,000 of Regeneration funding towards this project. This is an important scheme made possible as a result of strong partnership working between the Welsh Government, the local authority and the wider community.”
After unveiling the plaque, everyone was treated to two songs by the Brass Band, ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and ABBA’s ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’.
To close the ceremony, Cllr Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member of Economic and Community Development Services said a few words.
Congratulating the construction teams for persistently working on the project throughout the four seasons of weather that Aberystwyth had experienced, Mr Lloyd thanked the Welsh Government for making the regeneration possible, Carl Sargeant AM for participating in the celebrations, the architect team, Penweddig School and Penglais School Brass Band for providing music and to their conductor Alan Davies.
The attendees were then invited to tuck into the provided refreshments of food and drinks as well as a chance to look around and observe the newly designed Bandstand.
The Herald asked an attendee about their thoughts on the new design and the ceremony as a whole: “The new building is really beautiful, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but it’s really impressive.
“I think that they have kept the old spirit and have added a lot of improvements like the ability to see the view from the front and the view from the canopy so it’s really fantastic.
“We live in Llanilar and when our children were younger we used to come along to the bandstand where they used to put on shows in the summer. I was hoping that this time around again, the bandstand will be well used for the future and as we have heard today, it will be used all year around.”
After attending the official opening, Elin Jones AM spoke to The Herald and shared her thoughts on the event and of the new design: “I was very pleased to attend the opening of the bandstand in Aberystwyth, it is a very impressive building which I hope will be made full use of by the community.”