David Bowie's Beckenham bandstand gets Grade II listed status

image source, Historic England/Ray Stevenson/PA Wire
image captionDavid Bowie (left) playing with other musicians at the Beckenham bandstand in 1969

A bandstand where David Bowie played soon after the release of his first hit single Space Oddity has been protected with a Grade II listing.

The singer performed from the stand to a small audience in Croydon Road Recreation Ground on 16 August 1969.

The star, who died in 2016, is thought to have penned the lyrics to Life On Mars from its steps in London.

The 1905 bandstand is in Beckenham, where Bowie lived with Mary Finnigan, his landlady-turned-lover.

Soon after Space Oddity, Bowie and his friends organised the Growth Summer Festival.

image source, Historic England/Ray Stevenson/PA Wire
image captionThis photo was issued for a flyer for the Strawbs Free Festival in 1969

The bandstand was the centrepiece of the one-day festival, which Bowie helped to organise, compere and perform at exactly 50 years ago.

The event was designed to raise money for a permanent base for his and Finnigan's Beckenham Arts Lab project, which began life as a folk club in the backroom of the nearby Three Tuns pub.

It later inspired Bowie to write the seven-minute song, Memory Of A Free Festival.

Historic England's chief executive Duncan Wilson said: "It is a rare survival from an historic iron foundry in its own right.

"But its significance as a site that inspired David Bowie shows us how powerful our historic places can be and how important it is that we protect them so they will continue to inspire people for years to come."

image source, Historic England/Chris Redgrave/PA Wire
image captionBeckenham Bandstand in Bromley is also known as the Bowie bandstand

The first bandstands in England were built in the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens in Kensington, west London, which opened in 1861.

The Beckenham bandstand, owned by Bromley Council, has been Grade II listed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

It is thought to be the only surviving example from the McCallum and Hope Iron Foundry in the country.

The festival, now in its 50th year and known as Bowie's Beckenham Oddity, takes place on Saturday.

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