No not this one – the other one. This one’s a model of Dundee’s famous but not quite so famous as Ulysses S Grant Edwardian Bandstand at Magdalen Green in the West End of the city. The model is at Seabraes off Perth Road and hence North and East of the original. If you’re not great with a compass you’re probably lost by now. Try to think Tay Rail Bridge. As in blown down and had to be replaced. And it makes me wonder about the model of the Magdalen Green Bandstand. Did Councillors think the original might fall down so they had to build a reminder? Certainly when I passed the other day on one of my ‘walking tours’ round the city there were a number of official looking people peering at and poring over it. And the really astonishing thing was that in this Safety Conscious (OK obsessed) era none of them were wearing hard hats!
More observant readers will have noticed a flaw in this post constituting an anachronism. The real Magdalen Green is Edwardian so President Grant’s visit predates it! A mere detail! Which is not quite what I said to pupils I taught who wrote stories set in the nineteenth century where they were stranded on desert islands and pulled mobile phones out of their pockets to call for help! Whatever as they would sometimes reply when I pointed out their error.
But the Eighteenth President did visit Magdalen Green and looked on the Tay Bridge. He pronounced it a ‘mighty long bridge’ for the size of the city. He was of course from the land of the large. The episode is brilliantly captured in a song by the late Michael Marra. I am also given to understand the ex- President and Civil War General passed on his thanks to the Dundee Jute Barons for their contribution to the North’s victory. And indeed huge amounts of Dundee’s vast Jute wealth was invested in the US in ranches and railroads and the like! All very well but elsewhere in the city the people who worked in its Jute Mills were suffering the most appalling poverty and deprivation. I’m pretty sure they didn’t show the great man that!
I’m also pretty sure he would have liked the Bandstand – the real one that is. It just seems right. There on the Green with the sweeping view down to the river and the ‘mighty long bridge’. Michael Marra’s song is well worth a listen. And as for the replica in the pic here’s hoping it whets your appetite for visiting or indeed re-visiting the real thing!