Pier Bandstand, Weymouth
The Pier Bandstand was built in 1938-39 for a cost of £35,000, to the designs of V.J. Wenning, who had won the architectural competition for the bandstand's design. Wenning's plans were one of twenty-six entries considered. The builder, Christiani Neilson, employed local labour on the construction work, which began in January 1938. The bandstand was officially opened on 25 May 1939 by J.T. Goddard, the Mayor of Weymouth. Overall, 3,050 metric tons (3,000 long tons) of concrete, 180 metric tons (180 long tons) of steel, 9 kilometres (6 mi) of electrical conduit, 750 metres (2,500 ft) of neon tubing and 1,200 light bulbs were used during the course of construction.
The Pier Bandstand was designed with the bandstand extending out seaward from a two-storey building adjoining the promenade. The seaward section was able to seat 2,400 people, however only 800 of these seats were sheltered as the centre of the bandstand was roofless. Though the Pier Bandstand had gained some criticism for its intruding visual impact along the bay, it quickly became a popular attraction and was used to host many events from dances, concerts, wrestling, roller skating to the Miss Weymouth Bathing Beauty Contests. During the 1960s, the bandstand's promenade building was redesigned. It went on to house an amusement arcade and restaurant.
By the 1980s, the seaward end of the bandstand was in need of major repair to maintain the stability of the structure. With Weymouth & Portland Borough Council facing £300,000 in repair costs, the cheaper alternative of demolishing the bandstand was approved for a cost of £30,000. A national competition was launched to find the individual who would 'press the button' to demolish it, which was won by two schoolgirls from Birmingham. The bandstand was demolished on 4 May 1986, which drew a large crowd of spectators. The work left only the landward building standing, which was later refurbished. The Sea Palace Chinese Restaurant was officially opened in the building in July 2002. Today, the Pier Bandstand houses the Italian restaurant Al Molo, along with an amusement arcade and gift shop within its ground level kiosks.
As part of the regeneration of Weymouth and Portland, it was decided in 2007 that Weymouth's Esplanade would be redeveloped in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. The scheme included plans for the restoration and extension of the bandstand, while the exterior Art Deco features and symmetry would be restored. In addition, the area in front of the bandstand was to be redesigned into a 1930s-styled square, acting as the northern gateway to Weymouth Esplanade. However, the plans collapsed after the South West Regional Development Agency withdrew its £6.6 million funding in 2009.
- "Weymouth's £35,000 Bandstand". Western Gazette. 26 May 1939. p. 4.
- "Weymouth Pier Bandstand – National Piers Society". Piers.org.uk. 1939-05-25. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "£30k is exactly the price paid to demolish the 'too costly to repair' pier in 1986". Dorset Echo. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- Ian McDonald. "£30k is exactly the price paid to demolish the 'too costly to repair' pier in 1986". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "Prime spot for newest restaurant". Dorset Echo. 2002-07-31. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "Passion for food - Al Molo celebrates first year in Weymouth". Dorset Echo. 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "Weymouth Seafront Strategy — Design Guidance" (PDF). Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- "Weymouth Esplanade: A Visionary Masterplan" (PDF). Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- "Weymouth Esplanade:Pier Bandstand Northern Gateway" (PDF). Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-03.