On Saturday, 15 March 2019, the newly renovated Pump Room Gardens Bandstand was opened officially by Councillor Steven Cross, Chairman of Warwick District Council and Archie Pitts, who masterminded the Heritage Lottery Fund bid to refurbish the Pump Room Gardens.
The ceremony, introduced by the Cubbington Silver Band, was followed by a short presentation in the Art Gallery, by Dominic Liptrot, director of ‘LostArt’, the Wigan Foundry responsible for dismantling and refurbishing the crumbling metal structure. During its long life in Leamington, the Bandstand had undergone many ad hoc repairs, and a number of changes which quickly became apparent once the structure was dismantled.
The original Bandstand was manufactured in 1899 by Walter McFarlane & Co, of the Saracen Foundry, Glasgow, (item no 224 in their catalogue of iron goods.) Similar models were cast for many equally affluent towns up and down 19th century Britain. During restoration, amongst other things, ‘Lost Art’ discovered that under the 150 years’ worth of Paint, some cast iron sections were so badly corroded that the ironwork had deteriorated beyond repair. Those parts had to be copied, by casting identical sections, involving painstaking construction of replica moulds. Talking to camera, the restorers at ‘Lost Art’ expressed their enormous admiration for the men who manufactured the original pieces, and their own great pleasure in using their skills to restore and where needed, reproduce matching pieces.
The renovations are not quite complete: a final top-coat of stucco remains to be added to the rostrum, once the weather warms up. The colour scheme continues to attract comment, – but the new livery is the closest to the original paint shades that LostArt could achieve, – and for many, a huge improvement on the bright blue that we had all grown used to.
There was coffee and a magnificent cake to follow the presentation, and after that, a guided tour of the Gardens themselves. The new water feature and seating area at the west end of the gardens is already becoming a favourite destination for families.
The Friends of the Pump Room Gardens are to be congratulated on this fine restoration.
Photographs courtesy of Allan Jennings.