Denmark

Still standing

DENMARK’S heritage listed but dilapidated bandstand must be restored to its original condition say members of the shire’s historical society and former musicians of the town’s silver band.

Samantha Wolfe nee Nekel, a handy clarinettist with the band in the 1980s, said it was always “a big deal” to play at the bandstand, located on the east side of the river opposite Berridge Park.

“Definitely once a year, Carols by Candlelight, and other odd events we played,” she said.

“The whole town would come, and you’d have the choir singing.

“When there was talk of the town closing when [Whittaker’s] [M]ill shut down in the 1980s, it was really important to have events like that happening.”

Historical society members Ashleigh Murch, Valerie Mather, Louise Swan and Bev McGuinness with former band members Samantha Wolfe and Linda Humphries. Photo: Chris Thomson

After a two-decade break from the bandstand, the carols returned in 2017. But the return was short-lived, with the 2018 carols emanating from a marquee in Berridge Park after the bandstand was deemed structurally unsafe.

Public access is now prohibited, and the Shire has received a report estimating the building would cost $90,000 to fix.

Denmark Historical Society stalwart Bev McGuinness said that over the 56-year life of the bandstand to date “that’s actually not a lot of money”.

She said she had heard of no plans to demolish the structure “but the suspicion is that’s what will happen”.

“When John Clark died, he left money to establish a silver band and [the current band] is the oldest school band in the state outside of Perth,” she expanded.

“He also left money to build the bandstand.

“It’s a very important building that has been donated to the community.”

She said she remembered taking her children to Carols by Candlelight there for many years.

Linda Humphries – a contemporary of Louis Armstrong, and inaugural cornetist with the band in the early 1960s – said the bandstand “really is part of this town’s heritage”.

“We were so proud to be part of the band in the first instance, marching up and down on Anzac Day and other important occasions,” she said.

Mrs Humphries said she took that musical experience into her later career as a primary school teacher.

The 1964-built bandstand has been on the Shire’s heritage list since 2011, and is deemed to have “considerable significance”.

Shire CEO Bill Parker said a report on the bandstand was being prepared for consideration at the June Council meeting.

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