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'Beckenham was alive' - Bowie's Beckenham Oddity raises thousands to restore iconic bandstand

PUBLISHED: 16:41 14 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:41 14 August 2017

Maria Primolam with her family, the mayor of Bromley Kathy Bance and her husband Trevor. Photography by Fraser Gray

Maria Primolam with her family, the mayor of Bromley Kathy Bance and her husband Trevor. Photography by Fraser Gray

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A bust of Ziggy Stardust was unveiled at the event

Die-hard fans of David Bowie have managed to push past the half way point in their fundraising fight to restore an iconic Beckenham bandstand.

Wendy Faulkner, together with fellow fans and organisers of Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity, has raised at least £11,000 from Saturday’s event, bringing the total amount raised to around £64,000.

The Victorian bandstand has become something of a Mecca for fans of the Starman, who grew up in Bromley and found fame in Beckenham, ever since Bowie played it in 1969 with fellow creatives from the Beckenham Arts Lab.

The performance came just a month after he released the single Space Oddity, and his album under the same name would contain Memory of a Free Festival, a song immortalising the day at Croydon Road Recreation Ground nearly 50 years ago.

“The atmosphere on Saturday was amazing, Beckenham truly came alive,” said Ms Faulkner.

“We’ve already raised £11,000, but we still have auction items to go, so that could potentially rise up to £17,000.

“People came from New Zealand, Italy and France, all fans of Bowie, just to help raise this money and restore the bandstand, I really hope we can keep it going for next year.

“When Bowie died people travelled to Brixton, a lot of people still don’t realise the connection he had to Beckenham and that’s why we want this restored, I’d also like to see a plaque with all the names of performers from 1969 put up near the bandstand.”

One of the names to feature would be Keith Christmas, who returned to the bandstand for the first time in 48 years to play to the crowds of young and old Bowie fans.

Italian artist Maria Primolam even travelled with her family to donate a lifesize bust of the Starman, which shows his face in 1971, the year Hunky Dory was released, baring the infamous Ziggy Stardust lightning bolt.

The album featured Life on Mars, a single Bowie started writing on the bandstand’s steps.

Mrs Primolam has asked that the bust, which is on display in Beckenham Library, is never sold or given to others, saying it is “a gift I am giving to your community from my heart.“

Love Bowie? Do you know about the nine sites around Bromley connected to the Starman, which you can visit in just over an hour?

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