About the Bandstand


In March 2021, a local musician, Stephen Williams, had three ideas: how to honour the NHS, key workers and volunteers who have helped us through the Pandemic and how to remember those who had lost their lives; and how to create a much needed, new, open air performing venue in the heart of Dorking.

Joined by two friends, Nick Wright and Tony Earnshaw and with the support of several councillors, the group formed a Charitable Incorporated Organisation  (CIO) to realise this vision.

Early, informal consultation and publicity generated much support for the idea of creating a flexible, multi – use “bandstand”.  

In parallel, and with the help of a range of performers, we and bandstand operators have been researching what might work well as a venue.

Location and nature of the venue

The agreed site for the venue is in Meadowbank Park, in the centre of Dorking, where there is good access with parking and facilities nearby. This will also provide a further focus to the park, which has seen a number of new developments by Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) in recent years, including a new playground, a skate park and a café.

Even “conventional” bandstands come in many shapes, sizes and configurations and are increasingly used for a wide variety of purposes, as the research has shown. The pandemic has also seen their use increase dramatically as people seek outside but protected spaces in which to perform and hold their activities.

Dorking had its own Edwardian bandstand until it was demolished in the early 1960s.  We propose to re-create this in a similar style, but incorporating modern technology and features to enable the wider uses to which bandstands are now being put, from music to drama; sports to promotion and beyond.

Plans for “Music in Meadowbank”

One of the main uses of the bandstand will be for a series of free, Sunday afternoon concerts which we intend to stage over the summer months, from May to September. These will mainly be acoustic performances – jazz, brass ensembles, small orchestras, folk singers, choirs etc – designed for a wide audience including families with children.

The bandstand will be available for other events during the week, and for a limited number of larger, full scale commercial performances.

Achievements so far

Since March 2021, the team have:

– formed the Pandemic Community Bandstand CIO (Community Incorporated Organisation);

– successfully opened a bank account for managing the funds raised;

– commissioned and created this website and developed a social media presence;

– consulted with a range of likely users to inform design decisions and necessary key features;

– achieved planning permission for the project (September 2022);

– got the agreement of MVDC to build the bandstand on council land;

– made several applications for grants to fund the project;

– received a grant of £20,000.00

– discussed the practical issues of operating a bandstand with neighbouring bandstand owners.

Next steps

Our work going forward will be to:

– expand the team to give us more capacity and the necessary expertise to manage the work – and in particular the construction phase;

– continue to engage with local residents, directly on issues such as potential noise and disturbance;

– start a community funding campaign to supplement the grant applications, and seek donations from local businesses and individuals to help fund the build;

– finalise the selection of the bandstand supplier

Costs and Timescale

It is estimated that the project will need around £330,000 to build the structure and provide for running and maintenance costs in the early years while a programme of events is developed.

It is our aim to have the venue completed and open for the summer season in 2024; an ambitious target!