The public debate surrounding the relocation of one of Bangor’s iconic landmarks is settling.
The decision to refurbish and store Pickie’s Victorian bandstand until ‘phase two’ of its new home at the Walled Garden development at Castle Park is complete was agreed by North Down councillors in a vote last month.
Ian McQuiston, chairman of Bangor West Conservation Group (BWCG), said: “It is the least worst option available you could say. Though we are sad to see it removed from the seafront we can understand the decision to relocate it to the Victorian Walled Garden at Castle Park — in a sense it clearly has the space for it with more of a chance of it being used for events there.
“We do live in hope that one day it will return to the seafront, its rightful place. The bandstand first stood where McKee Clock stands now. The decision was taken to relocate the bandstand to its current position near the coastal path, to allow for the McKee clock — and now it’s on the move again.”
However, the group points out that the upheaval ‘could have all been prevented.’
Mr McQuiston explained: “The vandalism has been terrible, but it is something we have campaigned to the council about for a long time. The bandstand was restored once before, but once things get a little bit vandalised you need to act quickly. Soon enough the roof was going and so our group were on to North Down Borough Council for two years to get the bandstand repaired — to no avail. It’s come to the stage where it has to be taken away to be restored — but thankfully there is enough of it left to be restored.”
Speaking last Monday (February 7) Alliance councillor Anne Wilson said: “My hope is that it is reinstated in the Northern Walled Garden at Castle Park as soon as possible.
“We are planning a small tea room for light refreshments and toilets are being built in the Northern Garden and work has started on that. We don't think planning permission will be needed for the bandstand but will have to run it past the planners just to be sure.
“Work will propably start in the autumn when this season is over and the peace of the garden will not be shattered when visitors are there.
“I am certainly looking forward to seeing it in all its Victorian beauty in such an appropriate setting. I was worried about it being stored for so long, sometimes you never see things again. I felt it was important to ensure it was to be used by the public.”