News & Events

Supper concert channels upbeat romance of the 1940s

Monday November 4 2019

The Palmerston North Central Library will be transported back in time on Friday night (8 November) with a 1940s-themed supper concert that harks back to the heritage building's heyday as the venerable CM Ross Co Ltd department store.

Heritage photo shows wartime sailors in US uniform drinking beer at long tables in the CM Ross tearooms.

American sailors in the CM Ross Co Ltd tearooms. Photo: Manawatū Heritage.

The concert starts at 7pm and will feature Palmerston North saxophone player and singer James Tait-Jamieson, accompanied by local pianist Chris Dann.

Council Heritage Team Leader Lesley Courtney hopes people will get into the spirit of the occasion and dress up in 1940s style to make the concert an experience reminiscent of the concerts and suppers that took place in the building during that era – though dress-up is optional.

On the site of the store's tearooms on the second floor, concert-goers will overlook the lights of the Square, enjoying a similar view to their latter-day peers. Built in the late 1920s, CM Ross epitomised the best of modern shopping, rivalling the stores of New Zealand’s larger cities. Its tearooms were elegant, lined with rosewood panelling, and attended by uniformed waitresses carrying polished silver.

The venue was fit for royalty. Indeed, it hosted the official dinner during the January 1954 Royal Visit to Palmerston North by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.

Tait-Jamieson says he and Dann will be playing songs from the World War II era. The relaxed concert will include songs the jazz musician has been performing for years, as well as other material people will recognise as being from the period. Some of the most famous songs will include Tuxedo Junction, Take the A Train, On the Sunny Side of the Street, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and Sentimental Journey. The songs are “generally positive, happy and romantic. It was obviously a pretty difficult time in Europe, but the music was very happy, positive and upbeat.”

The 1940s-themed supper follows the one-hour concert, with the good china being rolled out to serve hot drinks, and cake-stands for food service.

Tickets are $15 and bookings are essential (by 5pm Thursday 7 November). To book, Call the Palmerston North City Library Heritage Team on 06 351 4100, email, or visit the team on the second floor of the Central Library.

Local History Week, organised by the Palmerston North City Library’s Heritage Team, runs from 3 to 10 November. Other events during the week include a workshop at Ashhurst Cemetery, the Mokaa – the Land of Opportunity exhibition, displays, talks, tours, walks and workshops.