Call to save bandstand falls flat

by Karen Buck

JOHN CLARK donated 2000 pounds for the erection of the bandstand in a small reserve opposite the Catholic church. The Shire of the day convinced the family it should go on the riverbank, but it proved the eventual downfall of the structure. The Bandstand was built in 1963 and officially opened the following year. Mr Clark also left a $2000 bequest which was used to purchase instruments for the first school band in Western Australia

IN A decision it acknowledged would anger and upset many in the community, Denmark Shire Council has resolved to demolish the John Clark Memorial Bandstand that sits unused on the banks of the Denmark River.

Councillor Peter Caron, who moved the motion, said it was with deep regret that he did so.

“There will be a very negative reaction,” he said, at Council’s June 18 meeting.

“But recent inspections have determined that the bandstand is in a terrible state and cannot be easily repaired, as many people seem to think.

“It would cost approximately $100,000 to reinstate the structure, which we cannot afford.” Councillor Caron’s successful motion called for the council to consult with the Denmark Historical Society to determine if sections of the removed structure can be installed or used in the society’s museum, the historical railway precinct or another suitable location.

Councillor Rob Whooley successfully moved an amendment to the motion which called on Council to investigate replacing the structure with something of a similar design.

Councillors Kingsley Gibson, Janine Phillips, Jan Lewis and Ian Osborne all supported the amendment with only councillors Caron and Ceinwen Gearon voting against it.

Former Denmark Historical Society president Bev McGuinness joined several other speakers in the public gallery in making a passionate plea for the retention of the building.

“I speak to you on behalf of the more than 2000 students who played in the John Clark Memorial Band – you need to understand the passion these people feel about the bandstand,” she said. “Local government should not just be about dollars and cents but about what the community values. Sadly, over many years various councils have not maintained the assets that were given to them by the community. It has unfortunately now fallen into your laps. Is there an ulterior motive or is it genuinely in a state that it can’t be repaired?”

Councillor Osborne, who seconded the motion to demolish the bandstand, said it was with great sadness that he faced the reality that the structure was in such a terrible state that it must be replaced. “The condition is a result of many years of neglect since 1964. We can point fingers, but that gets us nowhere,” he said.

Councillor Osborne said despite fond memories of playing in the bandstand as a young man, including at its opening concert, it was not an easy venue to work with.“It wasn’t easy to use, much less enjoy,” he said. “I remember a concert when it started to rain… until we had to leave the stage and go into the school buses parked behind. When we came back on stage, most of the audience had given up and gone home.”

Councillors Caron, Whooley, Lewis and Osborne supported the motion to demolish the structure, with councillors Gearon, Phillips and Gibson opposing it.

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