Birmingham Botanical Gardens has launched a fundraising appeal to raise £75,000 towards the cost of restoring of its historic bandstand, as part of ambitious plans to preserve and develop the prestigious 15-acre site.
The Taking A Stand! Campaign aims to return the bandstand to its original 1874 glory so that it can be used as an all-weather outdoor space for school groups and be a platform for music and other events.
The grade II* listed natural garden landscape and iconic glasshouses in Edgbaston welcomes more than 120,000 visitors and 17,000 school visits a year and is one of the UK’s most historically important botanic gardens.
However, the grade II listed bandstand, where Neville Chamberlain gave his first public speech as Prime Minister in 1937, is in a poor state of repair and requires extensive restoration work, including roof repairs and reinstating some original features.
Elizabeth Frostick, Development Director at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, said safeguarding the historic feature will also improve the access for visitors, as well as enhance its educational and social value.
“Taking a Stand! is a first step in our masterplan to protect the Gardens by updating historic and horticultural buildings, developing its award-winning education and learning and conserving the plant collection,” she said.
“It’s vital that we safeguard this outstanding cultural asset for future generations. We’ve carried out significant research across all 15 acres of the Gardens and have identified a number of projects that we want to complete and the first is the bandstand.
“Its previous use as an air raid shelter in the Second World War, the elements and lack of investment has put the core heritage infrastructure at risk and it urgently needs to be restored.
“As a charity, we receive no regular public funding, but we rely on the income we can generate, grants we can secure and the generous donations of people who want to ensure the Gardens are preserved for the enjoyment of the local community and visitors to Birmingham.
“We hope to raise the remaining funds from trusts and from public donations and hope that people who have visited and who have enjoyed the Garden facilities will donate. Every donation makes a difference.”
The fundraising campaign comes at a time when the Gardens has entered a pioneering partnership with the National Trust, with the support of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to map out a sustainable future for the Gardens.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which first opened to the public in 1832, is a 15-acre oasis just one mile from the City centre, set within a Conservation Area. It has more than 7,000 formally documented plants and is the largest and most diverse botanic collection in central England.
The Gardens is home to The British National Bonsai Collection and The National Cyclamen Collection and is the only place in the UK to feature the fern Dicksonia ×lathamii, which was raised by W. B. Latham, an ex-curator, more than 100 years ago. Four Victorian glasshouses house plants from tropical, sub-tropical, Mediterranean and arid regions, and there are also a butterfly house, aviary, landscaped lawns, tea room and children’s playground.
A JustGiving page has been set up to receive public donations:
Visitors can also make a cash or cheque donation at BBG in one of the donation boxes or it can be given to a member of staff.
To make a donation by post, make cheques payable to “Birmingham Botanical Gardens ” and attach a covering letter with your contact details. Cheques can be sent to Finance Manager, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Bandstand Appeal, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, B15 3TR. UK taxpayer can ask their donation to be subject to GIFT AID, which boosts the donation by 25%, thanks to Government funding.