Bandstand relaunched after £12,125 grant

By Mark Elson in Local People

A NEWLY-renovated century-old bandstand is all set to host its first performances this summer.

Scarr Bandstand in Sling has been made spic and span thanks to a £12,125 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, with two performances of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream scheduled next month.

The cash was obtained through the efforts of Sue Middleton and her team at the Foresters’ Forest project. And the Friends of Scarr Bandstand (FoSB) have now cleared the site of overgrown vegetation, begun control of broad-leafed plants, and trimmed trees, including removing one large one to improve access to the stage and arena.

Bill Gayler, chairman of FoSB, said: “Contractor Wayne Smith saw-carved the stump into a chair shape which is now a great talking point among the Friends and passers-by who are fascinated by the carving. We have dubbed it ‘The Narrator’s Chair’, and it’s now part of the character of the site.

“During the coming weeks, and in time for our first performances, we anticipate the installation of a deer-proof fence – quotations are awaited – around the entire auditorium area and bandstand structure, with gates to allow continued access to walkers and trail-bikers.

“FoSB are very busy now as the big moment – our first event – approaches and progress is steady in preparing the bandstand for the free performances by Glou­cestershire Youth Players’ of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with shows on Saturday and Sunday, July 22 and 23, at 7.30pm.”

During the August bank holiday weekend on the Saturday, in conjunction with the Sling Festival, the FoSB will also present Drybrook and Parkend bands in a tribute to ‘Hospital Saturdays’ at 4.15pm.

The bandstand, which dates back to at least 1913, was traditionally used for “Hospital

Collection” fundraising events, organised by the Milkwall Charitable Committee, when bands from Berry Hill, Parkend, Coleford, Lydbrook, Bishopswood, Two Brid­ges, Lydney, Newnham and Littledean marched in and played to hundreds of people.

At the end of the concert, they marched in line to Scarr Farm at Milkwall to sup on cider, bread and cheese, where some sat until midnight counting the money while others slept in the hay.

Other events, including the annual Coleford Sheep Sale, were also held at the bandstand.

Mr Gayler added that the Friends were grateful for an offer of partial funding from Calico Interiors of Milkwall for the performances and the trustees of Sling Club had also offered their premises as a stand-by venue should it be needed. 

See www.4villages.org.uk/bandstand/ for more details. Those aiming to attend performances are advised to bring an umbrella and a cushion or rug.

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