Hotel blaze puts pipe band festival in jeopardy

Joseph Bulmer

Visiting bands need a place to stay after Tanton’s closure due to fire

Can you put a roof over the heads of a pipe band in the Bideford area?

That is the appeal of Mike Harper, organiser of Bideford’s annual pipe and drum festival, a popular part of the town’s carnival attractions.

The festival and massed bands concert attracts bands from all over the country, but a recent fire at one of Bideford’s prominent hotels has left some with accommodation problems.

The loss of Tanton’s Hotel as a venue had presented a problem in finding reasonably-priced accommodation for visiting bands, said Mike. The hotel was currently undergoing refurbishment, but the bands needed to get their arrangements in place as soon as possible.

“Tantons usually provided a good deal for our pipers and drummers,” he said. “In the past we’ve had bands from all over the South West as well as Wales and Birmingham, but the success of the event means that bands from further east now want to be part of it. At least two bands from London and another from Hampshire want to be here, but the lack of somewhere affordable may well stop them coming.”

Mr Harper is appealing for anyone able to provide reasonably priced accommodation to contact him on 01237 477422.

“One band would just want a campsite or B & B to rest their heads, but there’s another from London who would prefer something more like a three star hotel,” he said.

Apart from the accommodation problems, other arrangements are well in hand for the carnival and massed pipes and drums on Saturday, September 10.