The Bandstand

We're on a quest to find out more about the Bandstand in its prime.
Barnet Museum kindly sent
an article from The Barnet Press written in 1943 about the "holiday-at-home" activities in the park during WW2:

Here's a transcript of the newspaper article:

HIGH JINKS

J. B. Priestley's Holiday Introduction

THOUSANDS THRONG OAK HILL PARK

"You've had the hard work. Now you have a month in which you can have the 'high jinks'." said Mr. J.B. Priestley, the famous author and broadcaster at Oak Hill Park, East Barnet, on Saturday, when he opened the local holidays-at-home programme.

The five thousand people in his audience needed no second bidding, and proceeded to enjoy to the full the many attractions which had been provided in the large and pleasant park, which has been transformed into an ideal holiday centre.

After Mr. Priestley had concluded his short, but interesting, opening speech, the coronation of the holiday queen took place.

The chairman of East Barnet Council (Cr. W.H. Roy Blankley J.P.) introduced the "Garter King of Arms" (Cr. Maurice Hackett, chairman of the holidays-at-home committee), whose enthusiasm and leadership, Cr. Blankley said, had produced the programme for the month.

Cr. Hackett then crowned Miss Ruby Fleming as holiday queen, and introduced her two maids of honour, Miss Muriel Pappin and Miss Olive Abbott.

A large procession of children and adults in fancy dress then paraded through the park into the band enclosure, and three small children presented bouquets to the holiday queen and her attendants.

The variety of the children's costumes was remarkable, and many were topical in their design. Nurses, members of the forces, the "Squanderbug" and Hitler, and a host more of notabilities and notorieties were represented.

Prizes of National Savings stamps were presented to the winning entries in each class by the holiday queen.

FANCY DRESS WINNERS

The following won prizes in the fancy dress parade:-

Under 7 years -

1. Mary Beivis, 2, Warwick Cottages, New Barnet, and Tony Lucas, 146, East Barnet Road, New Barnet;

2. Maureen Evans, 6, Connaught Avenue, East Barnet;

3. Pamela Montath, 17, Avondale Avenue, East Barnet.

Aged 7 to 12 years -

1. Jill Bond, 14, Shamrock Way, Southgate;

2. Sylvia Kirton, 63, Bulwer Road, New Barnet;

3. Charles R Harling, 8, Somerset Road, New Barnet.

Over 12 years -

1. Lois Chatfield, 1, The Drive, New Barnet;

2. Peter Sculpher, 49 Beresford Avenue, East Barnet;

3. Rita Fry, 21, Mansfield Avenue, East Barnet.

Decorated prams and cycles -

1. Hilda Field, 2 Kingston Road, New Barnet;

2. Jean Feal, 59 Northumberland Road, New Barnet;

3. Marion Littmoden, 53 West Walk, East Barnet.

Adults -

1. Mrs. Mitchell, 47 Beresford Avenue, East Barnet;

2. Mr. Hodges, 24 Ridgeway Avenue, East Barnet;

3. Mr. Waller, 49 Beresford Avenue, East Barnet.

Consolation prizes of free tickets to holiday entertainments were given to all the unsuccessful competitors.

Music, before and after the opening ceremony was provided by the band of H.M. Grenadier Guards, who also gave a concert in the evening.

Other attractions on the opening day included sports for adults and children, and dancing.

Sunday's events included a rabbit show, and concerts by the band of H.M. Welsh Guards. Following the evening concert, a large crowd listened to the religious brains trust answering questions on religious topics with ability and sincerity, combined with a sense of humour.

A number of the more energetic residents went to Windsor and back in a cycle ride arranged by the Cyclists' Touring Club.

BIG BANK HOLIDAY CROWD

On Monday the crowds exceeded all expectations, when some twenty thousand people made merry. The fun fair which is open for the fortnight was packed all day, and the British Legion fete and sports attracted large crowds.

Concerts in the afternoon and evening were provided by the City of London Police Band, and in the afternoon a trailer pump display was given by the National Fire Service.

Tuesday's special attraction included a dancing display by Miss Pearl Keet's pupils and a tug-of-war competition.

On Wednesday, a conjuring display by Marico, and comedy cricket match were amongst the holiday events. Excitement was provided by the netball match between the Women's Voluntary Services and the Women's Royal Navy Service.

Concerts by the band of the London Fire Force were well-appreciated items in Thursday's programme, which included also organised games for children and a display by the N.F.S. agility team and band.

Daily events that were well patronised included Punch and Judy shows, Jacquard's puppets, sideshows in aid of the Red Cross, and dancing in the park. Whist drives were held on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and the exhibition centre, opened on Monday, attracted a considerable number of visitors each day.

The children found the amusement enclosure, with its sandpit, a great attraction, and also enjoyed the competitions and treasure hunts organised daily.


Hidden away in the article you'll find reference to a 'band enclosure' - presumably the space where we've had Theatre in the Park in recent years.

  • Does anyone have a photograph or family memory of what must have been a real, splendid bandstand?

  • When was it built?

  • Did it have a roof and sides?

  • How frequently was it used?

  • When was the superstructure removed?

Our revellers in 1943 must have shared the park with folk 'Digging for Victory' in the area given over to wartime allotments.

Please contact us if you have anything to add. Thank you!