Pavilions for Music 

Bringing Bandstands Back to Life

So what's it all about then? 

So what are Pavilions for Music? For many years I have been fascinated with the history of the bandstand, its pre-Victorian origins and their ornate designs so loved by generation after generation. I set out to compile the ultimate database of all bandstands, lost and existing, with dates, histories, foundries and where they could be found or once existed. This work still continues. But as useful as this is, it is the continued use of bandstands that will ensure their longevity and popularity. They are still as relevant today as they once were and with the wide variety of offerings now available as public entertainment (as opposed to the rational recreation of the Victorian era), their availability often as free venues to public entertainers is generally unknown. So I have developed a website called Pavilions for Music which has been dedicated as a resource for existing users as well as those who simply don't how to book their local bandstand and want to use it. This could include:-

  • Local schools & colleges
  • Local bands
  • Youth groups
  • Drama and theatrical societies
  • Youth organisations (Scouts, Guides, Brownies, Rainbows, Cubs)
  • Brass Bands
  • Choral societies and choirs
  • Women's Institutes
  • Local charities
  • Rotary Clubs
  • Dance Groups (Lindy Hop on a bandstand?)
  • Opera Societies
  • Church groups
  • Local choirs
  • Local artists
  • .... or what about getting married on a bandstand??

Be clear, this is not a booking website but simply an available resource to promote the use of bandstands. It provides the following:-

  • The location of all bandstands in England, Scotland and Wales
  • The managing authority of each bandstand
  • Contact details (email, phone no. or website)
  • Rules & regulations (Entertainment Licences, Noise management)
  • A gallery of all existing bandstands
  • Regular updates on existing bandstands UK wide
  • Annual programmes and updates

So if you are keen to book your local bandstand and don't know how to go about it, it is all here and we hope you find it useful. Feedback is always welcome. But get out there and get using these often free spaces to perform and bring your bandstand back to life. And if your local council says no.... don't accept it and don't be burdened by unnecessary red tape. 

Keep checking here for updates and new information. The database will continue to be updated and added to with contact details included for some of those missing, postcodes and at some stage a link created to a map showing where all the active (and less active) bandstands are available to use. Don't forget the aim is to "bring bandstands back to life".

Who am I?

Paul Rabbitts - A Fellow of the Landscape Institute and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, I was born and brought up in rural County Durham in 1965, Teesdale to be exact, I went to Barnard Castle School, which I loved. After pretty poor A' Level results, I ended up taking a BA Honours degree in Geography at Sheffield City Polytechnic and spent 3 brilliant years there. Two years at Edinburgh University followed swiftly and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture. I was then gainfully employed for just over 2 years in a small landscape architectural practice on the island of Jersey.

Returning to the mainland, I took up a post at Carlisle City Council for 8 years working in Parks and Countryside where my obsession with parks began, and where I was ultimately responsible for one of the first HLF Lottery funded park restorations at Hammond's Pond in Carlisle itself.

A return to the North-East saw me take over a Landscape and Countryside Development team at Middlesbrough Council and managing a vast range of projects including the £4.4 million HLF restoration of Albert Park and where I also built the biggest skatepark in the country.

Eight years at Middlesbrough saw me move back into private practice with Halcrow Group Ltd, a global environmental and engineering consultancy where I was their "parks" expert, and over the 4 years saw me working from the Scottish Borders to the Isle of Wight with all my clients in the public sector.

However, a return to the public sector beckoned with a daring move south to take up a role as Head of Parks with Watford Borough Council - no one moves south!! and they all thought I was mad!! The role is now somewhat different, and but I am still seen as their 'parks supremo'.


Throughout though has been a growing passion for parks, and their history and evolution. An early morning shower (where often the best ideas are born) whilst still living in the North-East led to the idea of a book which had long been a desire - on a "history of the bandstand", generated by my involvement in the Albert Park restoration and the replacement of the bandstand there. Bandstands was ultimately published in 2011 by Shire Publishing and the move south generated further opportunities to write, and in particular on the Royal Parks of Regent's Park, Richmond Park, Hyde Park and a new history of them. The bandstands obsession continues and I have written further books on bandstands, Bandstands of Britain for the History Press in 2014, British Bandstands in 2017 by Amberley Publishing and a new book with Historic England in 2018 on Bandstands - Pavilions for Music, Leisure and Entertainment. The obsession has seen me appear in a BBC4 Documentary called 'Britain's Parks Story' with Dan Cruickshank, on the Simon Mayo drivetime show on BBC Radio 2, the Jeremy Vine Show, as well as published in the BBC Music Magazine (May 2014) and most bizarrely on Have I got News for You (2016).


Now living in Leighton Buzzard, I continue to write, and am still counting bandstands and writing about them as well as hold down a full time job! Oh, as well as keep my wife, Julie, and children, Ashley, Holly and Ellie entertained by my intermittent ramblings on all things geeky!