Thomas Edmonds' band rotunda

The Thomas Edmonds’ Band Rotunda on Cambridge Terrace was built in 1929 as part of the River Bank Improvement Scheme.

Thomas Edmonds Band Rotunda
Thomas Edmonds Band Rotunda. © Christchurch Star

In 1929, to celebrate fifty years of living in Christchurch, Thomas J. Edmonds (1858-1932), the founder of Edmonds' Baking Powder, financed the construction of a new band rotunda as part of his River Bank Improvement Scheme.

The site selected for its construction was a section on an embankment on Cambridge Terrace overlooking the Avon River near the Manchester Street bridge.

The architect, Victor Robert John Hean, designed the rotunda in the High Renaissance style of architecture. Tenders were called by the Christchurch City Council in April 1929. On 6 May 1929 the contract to build the rotunda was given to Neil McGillivray, builder, of 201 Peterborough Street.

Octagonal in shape, the rotunda stands at a height of 12 metres. Built from reinforced concrete with a stucco plaster finish, the rotunda is topped by a copper sheathed dome. The dome is supported by eight pillars situated at the corners of the octagon, providing a shelter for the performance space. The performance space is ringed by seven balustrades set between each pillar except for the easternmost two. This break in the balustrade perimeter allows for access to the performance space via set of two curved staircases. Beneath the performance space is a basement, entered via a door on the northern façade and lit by circular windows, which was originally used as a changing room by the bandsmen.

To the west of the rotunda is a circular seating area, while to the east is a shelter built from the same materials as the rotunda.

Although the rotunda was already in the process of construction, the foundation stone was unveiled by Thomas Edmonds on 26 September 1929. The official opening took place on 11 November 1929, with nine different bands performing.

With the decline in the popularity of band concerts in the late twentieth century, the rotunda gradually fell into disuse. In 1985 it was converted into the Thomas Edmonds Restaurant, with the changes overseen by architect, David Childs. These changes included the addition of glazed windows set between the pillars, awnings and a kitchen and restroom facilities in the basement.

The rotunda was damaged in 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes and deconstructed. Work to rebuild the rotunda commenced in 2019.