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
The work of the Deal Memorial Bandstand
Trust continues - with undwindling popularity for the summertime
Sunday afternoon and occasional evening concerts on Walmer
Dennis Atkinson - who provided
the information and photographs
used on this page - wrote a "History of the Deal Memorial
Trust" in 1993. To download the full text, please CLICK