Queen’s Park Arena started life towards the end of the nineteenth century. The original bandstand was a circular cast and wrought iron construction by the famous Saracen Foundry of Walter Macfarlane & Co. Installed in another location within Queen’s Park during the 1890s, by 1912 it had been moved to the present site becoming a focus for concerts, public meetings, political rallies and many other events.
In 1920 the bandstand was moved to Duchess Park in Motherwell and the Queen’s Park site was vacant for around 10 years.
The New Bandstand was constructed in 1930 – a rendered brick building with a south-facing stage. Into the natural amphitheatre formed by Camp Hill, wide terraces were carved to accommodate folding chairs some of which still survive. The broad front tiers were wide enough to have tables set out, lending a relaxed and rather genteel atmosphere.
In 1996 the bandstand was razed to the ground by fire. It was not replaced and the terracing fell into advanced dilapidation.
Over a decade passed. In 2009 a group of members from the four community councils around the park decided to explore whether local people saw a need for its restoration and would support it. During 2009-2011 the Steering Group, supported by pilot project funding from the Enpowering Communities Fund of the Scottish Government, and help-in-kind from Glasgow City Council, undertook community consultations, carried out preliminary surveys, design and costing and raised £180,000 to enable the first phase of restoration to take place. To carry the project forward and establish a basis to run the Arena, Queen’s Park Arena Ltd was established as a registered charity and company limited by guarantee.
The first phase of ground consolidation and site restoration took place in 2011-12. Further site improvements will take place in 2013.
From our point of view this project has always been about taking a dilapidated area of our park and creating something fantastic that the whole community can use and enjoy again – just as in the days of the bandstand. Many local residents and users of the park can remember the buzz of excitement generated when there was a concert or an event at the bandstand and how the whole area turned out to take part. Our aim is to make it like that again; a vibrant, lively space that becomes the heart of the park. In 2009, users of Queen’s Park were asked what they thought about the Arena and what the space could be used for. You can see the report of the survey answers here.
From the Scottish Government’s perspective this was a pilot project designed to see whether Community Councils could work together to shape, lead and deliver community projects of real value. It was one of only two of this type in Scotland and was supported with £15,000 pump-priming funding in 2009-2010. It was regarded as a great success and held up as an exemplar for other communities in Scotland.
The brief from the Scottish Government was to “identify a project of value to the community” and we’ve certainly done that. But, we’ve gone much further. Not only have we identified the project we’ve taken steps to deliver it too. And, we’ve engaged with the community and potential partners to ensure that we’re delivering what the community wants.
At one of our early meetings with potential partners and stakeholders a member of the audience suggested that we launch a design competition to encourage imaginative, inspiring design solutions. We worked in partnership with Glasgow Institute of Architects to run a design competition based on the design brief. The design competition took place in April-May 2010. Ten short-listed designs were exhibited during the 2010 Southside Festival and comments from the public – nearly 500 in total – were passed on to the judging panel. ZM Architecture, Glasgow, were the overall winners and were appointed the project architects. You can view all of the entries, as well as the design brief, here.
We have had fantastic levels of support from Glasgow City Council. The Steering Group applied in autumn 2010 to develop the Community Council-based, informal project steering group into a sustainable organisation with clear public benefit objectives and a constitution. It is now a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. It is also registered as an environmental body with ENTRUST. Queen’s Park Arena Ltd enables community, arts and educational bodies to become members of the company and have a stake in its operation and the opportunity to participate in its direction.
The restoration of the Arena is taking place in two stages:
1. Summer 2012
Ground works, drainage provision, terrace restoration and provision of new re-landscaped terracing for 800, re-surfacing of arena. This made the space safe and usable for events.
Construction of flexible stage/screen, canopy with built in lighting, electrical services, further seating, and the conversion of existing storage building as changing room with WC (disabled access).
1857 The City purchases for £30,000 an 80 acre area, formerly Pathhead Farm, to form a public park with the aim of encouraging the development of the residential area around the park. A master design by Sir Joseph Paxton is considered over-ambitious and is modified by the city architect, John Carrick.
1862 11 September, Queen’s Park opened. The date coincided with Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee but the park was named after Mary Queen of Scots, the Battle of Langside having taken place nearby on 13 May 1568.
1891 City boundary is extended to the River Cart, taking in a number of suburban areas including Langside, becomes part of the City of Glasgow, having formerly been part of the parish of Cathcart outside the City boundary.
1893 The City purchases the Camphill estate, a further 58 acres, for £63,000.
1894 24 May, Camphill grounds opens.
By 1912 Bandstand re-located to the current Arena site.
By 1920 Cast iron bandstand re-located to Duchess Park, Motherwell
C1930 Enclosed, south-facing bandstand and tiers for seating constructed
1996 Bandstand burns down. Site becomes derelict.
2008 May, First Southside Festival
2009 Queen’s Park Arena steering group formed. Public survey established 94% respondents support restoration of the site for community use.
2010 Over 50 entries submitted to Design Competition run jointly with Glasgow Institute of Architects. ZM Architecture, Glasgow, winners are appointed as project architects.
2011 Formation of registered charity, Queen’s Park Arena Ltd. £180k raised for first phase of works. Site substructure consolidated.
2012 Arena tiers restored and improved, level stage area created, drainage installed. Space safe and usable for events.
6 October, Launch event
2013 April, £140k raised (Landfill Communities Fund) for stage structure and amenity building restoration. Design review