A mystery bandstand…

There are a few photographs in the George Street Photography Collection that are proving to be quite a mystery.

The following photo was one such mystery….


Firstly, the Edwardian outfits make it clear that the image is considerably older than others in the collection (the majority of the collection is mid 1950s).

There aren’t many clues in the photo, so we decided to share the photo to see if there were any suggestions online.  After posting the image onto the St Helens Libraries Facebook page, and also in the local group St Helens Back In The Day , the mystery of the image started to become clearer…

Firstly, it was suggested that the bandstand in the image looked very similar to the one currently in Victoria Park.

bandstand - poss victoria park.jpg

The mystery bandstand, and the one in Victoria Park, St Helens

However, it was soon realised that although it looked very similar, the bandstand in Victoria Park was actually only built in 2014.  Also the building in the background of the mystery image wasn’t like any that could be identified in the park’s vicinity.

More digging on the internet pointed to the website of Paul Rabbitts, an author and parks historian.  On his blog, Paul Rabbitts has a post which mentions the Victoria Park bandstand and states ‘St Helens is a Walter MacFarlane model and replaces a bandstand that was always planned BUT never built.’


A Walter MacFarlane bandstand, image: http://www.lost-art.co.uk

With all this information, the mystery has now been (partly) solved, although does raise more questions…

We now believe that the photograph was not taken in a St Helens park, but was taken elsewhere.  The photograph does have a link to St Helens, as it is likely to have actually been the inspiration for the planned Victoria Park bandstand that was only finally built in 2014.

When this collection of glass negatives was found, the only information that we had with this photograph was ‘Todd Brothers’.  Todd Brothers Ltd were a steel workers in St Helens, which was founded in 1859. Were they involved in early plans for the bandstand in Victoria Park and had copies of the photograph produced for reference?  How long had the plan been in place for the bandstand in Victoria Park?

Thank you once again to St Helens Back In The Day, and specifically to users Marie Sheils, Arthur Holt, Jon Milligan and Jack Gartside for your help in identifying / researching the photograph.

If you do have any suggestions about where the photograph was actually taken, please comment below.

Want to help identify images?  More photos added each week to the St Helens Libraries Facebook page and also to the online gallery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s