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Gheluvelt Park Band Stand, Worcester

A Grade II Listed Building in Claines, Worcestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.2068 / 52°12'24"N

Longitude: -2.2291 / 2°13'44"W

OS Eastings: 384437

OS Northings: 256529

OS Grid: SO844565

Mapcode National: GBR 1FY.M7W

Mapcode Global: VH92M.9SXN

Entry Name: Gheluvelt Park Band Stand, Worcester

Listing Date: 28 April 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1425038

Location: Worcester, Worcestershire, WR1

County: Worcestershire

District: Worcester

Electoral Ward/Division: Claines

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Worcester

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Worcester St Stephen

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

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Summary

A cast-iron band stand and wooden bridge of c.1923, standing on an island in the middle of an ornamental pond.

Description

A cast-iron band stand and wooden bridge of c.1923, standing on an island in the middle of an ornamental pond. The band stand was the gift of the High Sheriff of Worcestershire, Alfred Wiggin, in May 1923, at the time that the park was being laid out as a municipal amenity and war memorial. The bridge across the pond was given by James Ward, at the same time.

PLAN: the octagonal band stand sits on a circular island. It is approached by a wooden bridge from the north shore of the pond.

EXTERIOR: the side of the circular island has stone blocks, and the upper surface is of concrete, with a brick kerb to the edge and a step up to the central bandstand. The bandstand has eight, cast-iron columns with decorative capitals and bases. A balustrade of wrought and cast iron encloses the lower body of the bandstand. Above the capitals of the columns are arched brackets with foliage tracery to their spandrels. The roof has wood shingles with lead flashings to the angles. At the apex is a wrought iron weather cock. At the base of each column is a makers mark, which has become illegible due to layers of paint.
The bandstand is approached on its northern side by a wooden bridge which is supported by two concrete cut-waters. The deck supports balustrades to either side which have lattice panels. There is a drawbridge panel of decking to the northern end, between the northern cutwater and the shore.
INTERIOR: the ceiling is a flat sounding board.

History

The battle of Gheluvelt was an early engagement in the First World War. The British Expeditionary Force had established a line to prevent the German forces reaching the Channel ports. On 31 October 1914 the Germans broke through this line and the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire regiment was sent to plug the gap and did so with a bayonet charge in the grounds of the Chateau at Gheluvelt in Flanders. They pushed back the German force of more than a thousand men, but with the loss to the battalion of 34 men and 158 injured. The victory was seen by many as highly significant, and a turning point in the early history of the war. At the opening of the park, on 17 June 1922, Field Marshal John French said that 'on that day the 2nd Worcesters saved the British Empire'.

In the C18, the land on which Gheluvelt Park was to be laid out was owned by the Cooke family who leased it to a Mr Garaway. It was used as a fuller’s yard for making sailcloth, with several ponds fed by the Barbourne Brook. Barbourne House, with its park and grounds, was built and laid out during the late C18 and Revd Thomas Cooke is recorded as living in the house in 1788. The house and grounds were sold to JP Lavender, a banker, in 1838. He sold the house in 1881 and it became Barbourne College and is recorded as such on the Ordnance Survey map of 1904. The gardens of the college featured the Barbourne Brook, which flowed across the land and had been diverted to create the large, club-shaped pond which still exists in the park and would appear to be part of the C18 layout. To the east of this was a large lawn with a circular pathway. In January 1918 the General Purposes Committee agreed to buy the land and the college buildings for £2,300, and to accept the mayor’s offer to subsidise the purchase.

The committee minutes reveal further progress: on 6 September 1918 Alderman Alfred Hill Parker presented a plan for the layout of the park, and it was also agreed that the land should be known as Gheluvelt Park, as commemoration of the victory in which the Worcesters had played such a significant role. By 1919 a resolution had been passed to start on the layout. An estimate for £3,230 to lay out the park was presented by the borough engineer.

A series of four terraces were to be built up on the north side of the park, using town refuse and unemployed labour to do the work. These terraces were also intended to form an amphitheatre, looking towards the planned bandstand, which was not initially designed to sit on the island in the pond, having been intended as a refuge for wildfowl. The gift of a band stand is recorded in May 1923 as offered by the High Sheriff, to be set on the island in the pond, and the bridge to get to it was the gift of James Ward. Twelve houses for ex-soldiers and seamen, also designed by Alfred Hill Parker, had been built along the northern side of the park in 1919-20.

Work on the park appeared to be reaching the final stages in October 1923 when the turfing of the tennis courts and gravelling of the paths were discussed at a meeting, together with the employment of a ‘superannuated policeman’ to keep order at band concerts.

Reasons for Listing

The Gheluvelt Park Bandstand, Worcester, is listed for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the bandstand is a handsome structure, admirably suited to its prominent site on an island in the centre of a large pond at the centre of Gheluvelt Park;
* Intact survival: other than the perishable wooden bridge and shingle tiles, the structure has undergone little alteration since its installation in 1924;
* Group value: the bandstand combines with the homes for disabled servicemen, the arch and gates and the memorial park to form a coherent group of heritage assets which together form a functional memorial and a practical means to commemorate the dead and assist the living.

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