Greenwich Park Bandstand

If you look closely at the bandstand in Greenwich Park, you might notice the name Deane & Co. stamped into the columns which support the roof.  It has been generally accepted that it was made by the Coalbrookdale Company, so what role did Deane & Co. have in building it?


The Bandstand, Greenwich Park

The lettering  - ‘DEANE & CO LONDON’ - can be seen on the base of each of the columns which join the decorative cast iron panels and support the roof made by the Coalbrookdale Company :



So who were Deane & Co?  They were a long-established London business – their advertising leaflet dated 1868 claims they were established in 1700 – manufacturing and selling a wide range of metal products:


 I can find mention of them as far back as 1785 at 39 Fish Hill Street in the City of London, as a patent shot warehouse, with a George Deane (born 1745) described as a hardwareman (ironmonger).  In 1799 their main business appears to be gunmaking, with the company run by George and son Edward Deane (born 1777 in Fish Street Hill).  In 1803 the company had moved to 41 Fish Hill Street at the corner of Arthur Street.  The 1819 Post Office Directory has it listed as John & George Deane, hardwaremen, and Pigot’s Directory of 1825/26 as George Deane, Birmingham and Sheffield Warehouse. 


Fish Street Hill, 1795 (Courtesy of Museum of London)

In 1838, the business moved again to 46 King William Street and is listed as a gun and pistol warehouse, ironmonger, cutler and jeweller.  In 1846 the gunmaking side moved to 30 King William Street. At this time, George and John Deane formed a number of partnerships that diversified into stove and range making at 86 Chiswell Street, and saddle making at 2, Arthur Street East. They were well-renowned, appointed as gunmakers to Prince Albert in 1848 and exhibiting at the Great Exhibition in 1851. In 1853 the firm won a bronze medal for a fowling piece at the New York Exhibition, and in 1855 a Prize medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition ("carabines, rifles et fusils de chasse, pistolet et revolver").


 King William Street c 1880 (Courtesy of Museum of London)

The hardware and ironmongery side of the business continued to trade successfully from 46 King William Street until 1890, but the gunmaking part was sold in 1873. The Deanes had sold up by 1890 to retire, and the site acquired by the City & South London Electric Railway Company for the building of the King William Street Station.  This was the northern terminus of the world’s first deep-level underground electric railway which ran from Stockwell and had 6 stations.  The station opened on 18th December 1890, closing in 1900 when the line, now the Northern Line, was extended to Moorgate. 

So what was their involvement in the making of the bandstand? 

After much searching online for information, one file was located in the National Archives from the Office of Works (WORK 16/142B) that confirms that Coalbrookdale did indeed produce the roof frame and that Deane & Co. assembled it and installed the iron columns.   

Quotations for estimates and designs were originally received from five firms:

  • Geo. Smith and Son
  • Brass and Son
  • Hill and Smith
  • Deane & Co.
  • Steven Bros & Co.

Deane & Co and Steven Bros & Co both planned to use Coalbrookdale for the roof.  W. M. Curl were the installer/sub-contractor operating on behalf of Deane & Co. 


 Old postcard (undated, late 19th /early 20th century?)

The bandstand was ‘opened’ in June 1891, with a performance by the Northumberland Fusiliers Band from nearby Woolwich.  The Kentish Messenger reported the event which took place on Thursday 4th June:

“A large concourse of people was attracted to Greenwich-park last evening, when the Northumberland Fusiliers, under Bandmaster W.H. Dencer, began the summer series of Thursday evening performances with a well-chosen selection of popular melodies. The chairs within the enclosure round the bandstand were mostly occupied, and considering the inclemency of the weather until nearly the time for the beginning of the performance the number of people strolling about within hearing of the music was very large.  The Park is just now seen at its best. The hawthorn and horse chestnuts are in full bloom, and light up the green turf and trees which the late heavy rains have helped to deck in luxuriant coats.”

The following week’s edition of the paper estimated that 5000 people had attended the concert. 

The bandstand continues to be used for summer Sunday concerts organised by the Friends of Greenwich Park.