South London bandstand which David Bowie performed on 50 years ago is Grade II listed
Written by News on 16/08/2019
A south London bandstand associated with David Bowie has been Grade II listed so that it can “inspire people for years to come”.
The singer, who died in January 2016, performed to an audience of just a few hundred at the structure in Croydon Recreation Ground in the summer of 1969, soon after the release of Bowie’s first hit single Space Oddity.
It has been suggested that Bowie may have written the lyrics to Life On Mars from the steps of the cast iron bandstand.
The 1905 bandstand is located in Beckenham, where Bowie lived in the home of landlady-turned-lover Mary Finnigan.
She said he composed many songs while living under her roof.
The bandstand was the centrepiece of a one-day festival Bowie and his friends organised, the Growth Summer Festival, which he performed at 50 years ago today.
The event later inspired the singer to write the seven-minute song, Memory Of A Free Festival.
Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said: “Walking past this typical yet characterful bandstand, you probably wouldn’t expect it was once the stage for a young man who would become one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century.
“It is a rare survival from a historic iron foundry in its own right, but its significance as a site that inspired David Bowie shows us how powerful our historic places can be and how important it is that we protect them so they will continue to inspire people for years to come.”
The famous bandstand, owned by Bromley Council, has now been Grade II listed by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.
Bandstands were first built in England in the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens in Kensington, London, which opened in 1861.
In their heyday, there were around 1,500 bandstands in Britain in the likes of public parks, on piers and seaside promenades.
The Growth Summer Festival, now in its 50th year and known as Bowie’s Beckhenham Oddity, takes place on Saturday.
Heritage minister Rebecca Pow said: “David Bowie is a cultural icon and 50 years on from his performance at the ‘Bowie Bandstand’ in Beckenham it is right that we remember his influence on music and culture in this way.
“Our country’s music industry is a huge success story and artists like David Bowie will always play an important role in how the rest of the world views the UK, helping us to attract millions of visitors each year to experience and enjoy our rich history and culture.”