Ask locals to reminisce about Saughton Park and you will find that the Bandstand and the concerts it hosted are the fondest memories for many.
It was clear to the Friends of Saughton Park that the restoration project could not be complete without the reinstatement of one of the most recognisable symbols of the Park.
So, led by our history group, we set out to help bring back the Bandstand!
Background and History
Two timber made bandstands were part of The Scottish National Exhibition, held in Saughton Park from May-Oct 1908. Once the Exhibition was over, the bandstands and prefabricated buildings were dismantled with many being relocated to form Portobello’s Marine Gardens.
However, Edinburgh Corporation felt the bandstands were so successful, that in 1909 they purchased two Cast Iron Lion Foundry No. 23 Bandstands, one which would sit in the Meadows, the other in Saughton Park. These were cast by the Lion Foundry of Kirkintilloch, (Did you know -The Lion Foundry also produced the iconic red telephone boxes and post boxes!)
Concerts continued into the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately, by the 1980s, the Bandstand was in a sorry state, and was dismantled in 1987. Luckily, it was put into Edinburgh Council Storage – the Meadows’ Bandstand suffered a less-fortunate fate, being scrapped in 1953
Fast forward to 2016! In August of that year friends Pete McDougall and Joe McGuigan, Richard Shorter Architect and Rebecca Sampson consulting project Engineer went to see the Bandstand at the Council Storage Facility. Stacked on a shelving unit, some pieces were missing, but it was more-or-less complete.
In November 2016, Richard and Joe went to Kirkintilloch, to visit the Lion Foundry and view a selection of original documents relating to our bandstand.
While there they viewed several original drawings and blueprints of both the Saughton and Meadows Bandstands, which became key in the forthcoming restoration. They were also able to view the Lion Foundry’s original catalogues, which provided more detail on certain parts of the bandstand, such as the railings and finials
Once the drawings were viewed, and copies purchased, it was suggested we go to the Auld Kirk Museum across the road which holds several of the original casting moulds.
The helpful curator informed Richard and Joe that the moulds, while uncatalogued, were available to be viewed. This has proved incredibly useful, as for the missing pieces of the Bandstand, new castings could and were made.
Over the years, Saughton’s Bandstand would be a stage for many an entertaining event, Some of these included:
13 May 1917 – The British Legion Band & the 7th/9th Royal Scots Pipers
2 Jul 1917 – Mr A.W.G Beaton’s Concert (Red Cross Appeal)
6 Jun 1930 – Experimental Gramophone Recital
June 1935 - The Smart Set Concert Party, all week each evening at 7:15PM
28 Jun 1941 – Fisher Williams Concert Bureau
With all the pieces in place Charles Laing and Son, a Scottish, originally Edinburgh, based foundry, soon began the task of restoring the existing parts of the Bandstand and creating the pieces that were missing. You can see a timeline of photos of the progress of the project on their Facebook page here. Completed in late summer 2018, the restored Bandstand is now back to its former glory and grandly situated within the walled garden! You can see more photos on our Gallery page.
The new spectator space around the Bandstand provides seating space audiences and Saughton Park can once again now host an exciting, vibrant Bandstand programme with opportunities for youth, community and voluntary groups to perform, as well as professional bands and theatre companies. Keep up to date with upcoming Bandstand events on our News and Events page and Facebook page!
Saughton now has the only cast iron bandstand in Edinburgh and this No. 23 model is one of only five left in the world. The Friends are very proud to have been part of bringing this fantastic piece of the parks heritage back to life and paving the way for an exciting future for the Bandstand and the community.