Refurbishment of the Grade II listed bandstand on Clapham Common, believed to be the largest of its type remaining in the UK, has involved manufacture of a bespoke, 62-section zinc roof and central finial by VM Zinc. The greater part of the original structure was retained, though the railings are thought to have been replaced in the late 40s as a consequence of wartime requisitioning. Having fallen into serious disrepair, the bandstand had been placed on English Heritage’s ‘Greater London buildings at risk’ list in 1995.
Designed by Thomas Blashill, then architect to the London County Council, it was erected in 1890 at a cost of £598. It was a replica of two bandstands built in 1861 to a design by Captain Francis Fowke for the RHS South Kensington Gardens (on a site now bounded by The Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall). Among the factors affecting zinc’s specification by architects Dannatt Johnson were its resistance to corrosion, weight and VM Zinc’s ability to meet the complex roof design requirements.
Restoration was driven by lobbying from local residents who raised more than £100,000 to add to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £900,000 and a contribution by Lambeth Council of £300,000.
1:1 roof replication was undertaken, subsequent manufacture being divided into sections for cutting and shaping. Plaster prototypes were also used to create drilled sections and to design the punching moulds.
Though much of the roof’s timber had decayed, the main supporting timbers remained in good condition. A finely crafted curved wooden structure was built to support the zinc covering, installed by specialist contractor T&P Roofing of Stanford-le-Hope. The hollow columns, some of which serve as drainpipes for the roof, had to be unblocked and re-engineered to fit. Along with remaining ornamental cast iron sections, they were cleaned offsite. Finally, the original 1890s colours – bright greens, yellows and reds – were reinstated. The end result is an exceptional illustration of zinc’s versatility as a building material.