Concert stage once used by Bob Marley to be restored ‘putting Crystal Palace back on the map’

A beloved concert stage, once performed on by Bob Marley, could be restored after hundreds of people backed a crowdfunding campaign.

The striking outdoor sculptural stage in Crystal Palace Park has been dormant for more than a decade and has fallen into a state of disrepair over recent years.

Having been recently registered as an Asset of Community Value, an ambitious new campaign is being launched to #BackTheBowl, crowdfunding £55,000 for a new stage surface to be installed and helping to bring this iconic lost venue back to life.

The crowdfunding page, launched on Sunday, has already received £20,802 in donations.

Oliver Marshall, a volunteer working with Crystal Palace Park Trust said: “Big music events are going to be returning to the park.

“The idea is that the revenue generated from these events will be reinvested straight back into the park.

“In the two/three years that we have been campaigning, so many people have approached us and said we would love to play on that stage.

“We have all been blown away by how much attention and support the new Back the Bowl campaign has had in only a couple of days.

“This shows that we are putting Crystal Palace back on the map.

“This is a park that has struggled over the past couple of decades but it really feels like there is a lot of optimism and positivity in so many different areas.”

In addition to crowdfunding, the project is also pitching for backing from the Mayor of London’s #MakeLondon fund, which supports creative, locally-led proposals that benefit the local community.

The campaign is being led by the Crystal Palace Park Trust, a charitable organisation working with Bromley Council to shape a sustainable long-term future for Crystal Palace Park.

This is the Trust’s first significant project: helping to ‘Reboot the Rusty Laptop’ – as it is affectionately called by locals.

This would allow the stage to form a striking backdrop to live music and performance, making the space safe for community arts, educational and fitness activities, while taking a big step towards defining its long term future.

An event at the Crystal Palace Bowl in 1997. Credit: Dennis Gilbert

The concert bowl opened in June 1961, with a performance by the London Symphony Orchestra.

In the 70s and 80s it hosted The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Elton John and Bob Marley.

The structure seen today, was built in 1997 and replaced the previous concrete and steel stage from the 60s.

The corton steel structure was designed by Ian Ritchie Architects and sits at the bottom of a grass amphitheatre with a small lake separating it from the audience.

The stage will be renewed with Ekki timber, a South African hardwood renowned for its durability in marine environments and low-maintenance characteristics.

It will come from independently certified Forest Stewardship Council sources and have a lifespan of 25+ years.

Val Shawcross CBE, Chair, Crystal Palace Park Trust said: “On behalf of the Crystal Palace Park Trust I am delighted to be initiating this crowdfunding campaign, to kick-start a restoration of the Crystal Palace Park Concert Bowl. 

“The local community dearly want to see this iconic stage brought back into use for music, theatre, events and fun in the summer.

“It’s especially important to us all in this Covid pandemic that we plan together for our future social and cultural life together and look forward to enjoying entertainment with our children and families in one of the UK’s finest parks.”

If the crowdfunder is successful, it is anticipated that the works on the stage will start in Summer – Autumn 2021.

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