Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Era of the Bandstand

A century ago was the era of the bandstand which epitomised for me the music of the brass band. Bandstands were simply a covered outdoor platform on which a band could play.  No elaborate protection from inclement weather was required as this was an era prior to the use of electrical musical instruments.

Port Elizabeth followed the world-wide trend and built two during the first decade of the 20th century. Thirty years later they were gone.

Main picture: Bandstand in Trinder Square

During 1902, the area on which the first bandstand was to be erected was selected. The Trinder Reserve, as it was known at that time, was to be the lucky recipient.  The official inauguration was held on Thursday 29th May 1902 with the PAG Band under Signor R. Tardugno as the “opening act”. The bandstand was finally removed in August 1931, that is just under thirty years after its erection.  

Bandstand in Happy Valley

The recipient of the second bandstand was Happy Valley in Humewood. The area which originally bore the name Happy Valley was the valley adjacent to Hume Park up which the narrow gauge Apple Express ascended from South End beach to Walmer. The area around Happy Valley and Humewood Beach was designated for a major upgrade by the Town Attractions Improvement Scheme. From June 1908 the Municipality leased Humewood from the Harbour Board but even prior to finally signing the lease, the Municipality made a number of improvements in time for the summer season. On the 6th November 1907, groynes were built at Humewood to increase the extent of the sand. A groyne is a a low wall or sturdy barrier built out into the sea from a beach to check erosion and drifting. In addition, ropes were hung to demarcate the bathing area and a bandstand was erected north of the mouth of the Shark River.

Trinder Square before the erection of the bandstand

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