A location that would have seen much history, as a meeting point for many locals and entertainment evenings at the band rotunda AND the iconic Thomas's Department Store.
Thomas's Department Store
The Thomas’s story in Marlborough began in 1912, when John Emlyn Thomas and his new wife Kathleen bought an empty shop in Blenheim and moved to a new life on the Wairau Plains. The first Thomas’s store was one of four situated on the west side of Market Street South between Wynen and Charles Streets. Trading conditions were tough in a small town that seemed already to have too many shops, add to this the fact that 100 years ago the main shopping area of town was around Lower Alfred Street and Market Street North and this was a challenging environment for a new small business owner in a new town. However, John Thomas proved to be an astute retailer, and his skills, coupled with ample support from Kathleen, helped the fledgling Thomas’s store to steadily improve their market share. John had come to New Zealand from the North of Wales, where he was born in 1880.
The Gleghorn Rotunda - In September 1889 the Blenheim Borough Council received a request from Mr Fred Hale, Secretary of the Garrison Band, to erect a band rotunda in Market Place in central Blenheim. The site where the Rotunda now stands was initially occupied by a well which fed the town’s hand-operated fire pumps. This well was later filled in and replaced by a fire hydrant that was fed through pipes from the nearby river.
After two previous wooden Post Offices burnt down, the Government decided to construct a new building in Blenheim’s Market Square from concrete, to house the Post Office and other departments, including Customs, Crown Land and (Farm) Stock. Building was started in 1877 and completed in July 1878 at a cost of 11,000 pounds. The Post Office was situated in the lower right section of the building with its own entrance.
The building was embellished with a Coat of Arms of the Lion and the Unicorn over the main door, on the roof (and another round the side over the Post and Telegraph), and two female statues in niches in the wall above the main door, one to represent “Justice” and the other “Truth”, all moulded in concrete.
From the time it was completed the iconic Blenheim Government Building was the focus of attention for most of the early postcard photographers. It was a well-designed, imposing building of the time, which dominated the Market Square of the small town.