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History of the Memorial Bandstand

Following the IRA bombing of the Royal Marines Barracks in Deal on 22 September 1989, Deal Round Table asked for ideas for a suitable memorial. In a letter to the East Kent Mercury, former miner and band musician Dennis Atkinson suggested a new bandstand as a living tribute to the 11 musicians who had died.

Some months later - in January 1990 - Dennis had not heard anything, so he contacted the then chairman of Deal Round Table Neil Curwin to ask about progress. Neil said that The Round Table, Royal Marines and District Council were having discussions. Some time later, rumour had it that the Round Table had dropped the idea of a bandstand - mainly because The Royal Marines could not take on the commitment of running it once built.

Undeterred, Dennis enlisted the support of Betteshanger Band and offered to organise a series of Summer concerts, hoping to prove a bandstand was needed and would be well used. David Burridge (a former Bandmaster of Betteshanger Band and Head of Music at Chatham House Grammar School) agreed to be chairman of an organising committee which soon attracted its first members: Steve Grindrod, Robin Parks (both ex-Royals and Betteshanger Bandsmen), Mandy McMillan and Philip Marsh.

In discussions with Deal Round Table, the committee members were able to report very positive responses from local businesses. Six bands had agreed to play for a reduced fee if required. Impressed, the Round Table members agreed to rethink the idea of a Memorial Bandstand.

June 1991 saw the first of the Memorial Concerts, opened by the Deal Town Mayor and former Betteshanger collier Roy Towe, with 16 more by 22 September. The first season proved a success and actually made a profit of £724.70! By the end of 1991, plans had been passed for building the new Bandstand which, it was hoped, would be ready for the start of the 1992 season.

In February 1992, the Bandstand Committee approached solicitor Jonathan Daniels to make inquiries about becoming a registered charity.

When they received a copy of the plans in April, it became clear the allocated area would be too small. Following advice from architect John Miller and discussion with Round Table, the plans were amended.

The 1992 season started in May and on 6 June, the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men presented a cheque to the Committee. In a conversation at the ceremony, Lt Col Graham Hoskins (a former Principal Director of Music of the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal) offered his help "if ever needed". The Committee wasn't slow to take up the offer and, at its next meeting, voted to invite Col Hoskins to be its President. He accepted in July.

By the end of the 1992 concert season it was clear that the venture was proving very popular, underlined by a profit of £749.24 after all expenses had been met.

On 18 August, 1992, work started on the Memorial Bandstand. The excavation was carried out by Billy Oatridge and Trevor Smith. Next day, the footings were knocked up by hand, by members of Deal Round Table, working under floodlight to get the job finished that night. On 25 August, block work for the base was started by Allan Sutton and his team of Paul Cureton, Shaun Keenan and Graham Harris. On 17 September, Eddie Oliver, Trevor Smith and Alan Sutton's team laid the concrete base. On 26 September, Billy Thomson (a former Betteshanger mechanical fitter) erected the legs and ring beams and on 9 October, he finished the steel work for the roof.

In January 1993, Shaun Keenan and Graham Harris laid the brickwork and commemorative stones. In April, Carter Scaffolding erected scaffolding so Eddie Oliver could lay marine ply decking for the roof. The week before the official opening and first concert, the roofing contractors Murry/Blench started on the copper roof. With only two days to go, Billy Thomson fixed the railings in place and everything was ready.

At the Opening Concert and Handing Over Ceremony on 2 May 1993, Mr Rohit Tanna of National Round Table presented a parchment to Bandstand Trust President Lt Col Hoskins, accompanied by a fanfare played by HM Royal Marines.

The work of the Deal Memorial Bandstand Trust continues - with undwindling popularity for the summertime Sunday afternoon and occasional evening concerts on Walmer Green.

Dennis Atkinson - who provided the information and photographs
used on this page - wrote a "History of the Deal Memorial Bandstand
Trust" in 1993. To download the full text, please CLICK HERE.

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18 August 1992: Bill Oatridge levelling site before digging footings.
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Trevor Smith and Bill Oatridge
of Deal Round Table start
concreting the footings.
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25 August 1992: Alan Sutton, Paul Cureton, Shaun Keenan and Graham Harris blocking up the base.
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26 Sept 1992: Billy Thompson and team with Trevor Smith and Eddie Oliver install the first support post.
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8 Oct 1992: The first two
roof beams and crown in place.
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Roof timbers being fitted
by Eddie Oliver.
CLICK to see larger photo   CLICK to see larger photo   CLICK to see larger photo
Copper roof construction
by Murry/Blench.
2 May 1993: Fred Thomson
and Betteshanger Band at the
'Handing Over Ceremony'.
19 Sept 1993: Dedication Ceremony. Bandstand Trust chairman David Burridge giving speech with The Royal Marine fanfare team and Band in the background . The fanfare trumpeters played the 'Leon Young Memorial Fanfare' brilliantly.
To see recent photos of the Memorial Bandstand CLICK HERE.

For dates of concerts at the Bandstand, see the coming events.








































This page was updated
on May 11, 2009