Landmark restoration begins after successful fundraiser

Work to start on Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ historic bandstand.

The restoration of the historic bandstand at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is due to begin next month after a twelve-month campaign to raise £138,000.

The local landmark, which nestles in the Gardens’ Grade II* listed 15-acre grounds in Edgbaston, is in a poor state of repair and requires extensive work, including roof repairs and reinstating some original features, by conservation specialists.

The Gardens, which is a registered charity, launched its Taking A Stand! fundraising campaign last year to secure the amount needed to bring the bandstand to its original 1874 glory so that it can be used as an all-weather outdoor space for school groups and be a platform for music and other events.

The project has since received a substantial donation from The Peter Sowerby Foundation, and generous support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, GJW Turner Trust, 29th May 1961 Trust, Feeney Trust and Grimmitt Trust – as well as money from members of the public.

Now, with just £7,500 needed to reach the target, work is due to start on the historic bandstand at the beginning of October.

Liz Frostick, Development Director, said safeguarding the Grade II historic feature, which was where Neville Chamberlain gave his first public speech as Prime Minister in 1937 and later used as an air raid shelter in the Second World War, will also improve the access for visitors, and enhance its educational and social value.

She said: “We are thrilled that the project has the support of a number of prestigious national and local trusts and individual supporters and are especially grateful for the major donation from the Peter Sowerby Foundation, without whom this project would not have been possible. In recognition of this generous donation, it will be called The Peter Sowerby Bandstand.

“We are one of the UK’s most historically important botanic gardens and as a charity we receive no regular public funding, so we must rely on the generosity of public donations, grants and income we can generate, which has obviously been very difficult this year. Every pound we receive takes us closer to our target.”

The Gardens has appointed Donald Insall Associates Ltd as conservation architects, Reynolds Conservation Ltd for conservation works and PMP Consultants as cost consultants.

A JustGiving page has been set up to receive public donations or visitors can make a cash or cheque donation at the Gardens in one of the donation boxes or it can be given to a member of staff.

To make a donation by post, make cheques payable to ‘Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ and attach a covering letter with your contact details. Cheques can be sent to Finance Manager, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Bandstand Appeal, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, B15 3TR. UK taxpayer can ask their donation to be subject to GIFT AID, which boosts the donation by 25%, thanks to Government funding.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which first opened to the public in 1832, is a 15-acre oasis just one mile from the city centre, set within a Conservation Area. It has more than 7,000 formally documented plants and is the largest and most diverse botanic collection in central England.

It is home to The British National Bonsai Collection and The National Cyclamen Collection and is the only place in the UK to feature the fern Dicksonia ×lathamii, which was raised by W. B. Latham, an ex-curator, more than 100 years ago. Four Victorian glasshouses house plants from tropical, sub-tropical, Mediterranean and arid regions, and there are also a butterfly house, aviary, landscaped lawns, tea room and children’s playground.