The band rotunda in Queen Elizabeth Park.

The band rotunda in Queen Elizabeth Park commemorates the coronation of Edward VII

During 1902, all through the British Empire governments were consulting about appropriate measures to mark the coronation of the new king, Edward VII. There was discussion about a fitting memorial in Masterton too, with talk of a Coronation Avenue. Lawyer W G Beard fancied a scholarship at the local school, to be called the Victoria and Edward Scholarship, while merchant David Caselberg thought it could best be used to establish swimming baths, a band rotunda, or equipment for the technical school. C E Daniell favoured a band rotunda, suggesting a site in Lincoln Road, near Chapel Street. New mayor, Philip Hollings, also supported a band rotunda, although he thought it better it should be built in Masterton Park.

The coronation celebrations took place at the Masterton A and P Association’s showgrounds on August 9 1902, and a meeting shortly afterwards decided on the park as a suitable site for the commemorative band rotunda. Local architects Varnham and Rose offered their services free of charge, and the council accepted their offer, referring the siting to the park committee and the conductor of the brass band.

On September 6 the members of the committee, accompanied by Borough Engineer Dobson, the band conductor F W G McLeod, and architect Rose journeyed down to the park, and after very careful examination of a number of proposed sites unanimously deduced one position was perfectly suited to the purpose – the centre of the oval.

The cricketers, imaging a band rotunda at silly point, were not amused, and the footballers, incensed at the thought of a concrete edifice in the middle of their playing grounds, were alarmed. Older settlers, who had contributed to making the oval for sports groups, or who had provided free labour, were equally annoyed.

The full council rejected the idea and the committee was told to go back to the park and come up with another site, which they did, on the pathway from the main gate to the oval.

A plan was decided on, modelled on photographs of the large rotunda on the promenade at Napier. It was hoped to have the rotunda built in time for the North Island Brass Band Contest, being held in Masterton for the first time in February 1903. The work was not completed in time, not that it mattered – the contest was staged down the road at the showgrounds.

The rotunda was opened on June 3 1903.