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Colonel William Light
Colonel William Light

Photographs supplied by Kent Watson

The monument was erected over the grave to commemorate Colonel William Light, the first Surveyor-General of South Australia. It replaced the original memorial which was erected in 1844. 

The original monument was designed by George Strickland Kingston and consisted of a Gothic Cross carved by Mr Lewis. The completed Gothic cross was erected in 1844. In 1876 the Adelaide City Council placed a white marble tablet on a panel of the monument: its inscription acknowledged the pioneers of South Australia for erecting the memorial to Light. By 1892 the monument was badly weathered and beyond repair. Initial enthusiasm generated public subscriptions of £348. However, by this time the colony was in another severe economic depression, with bank failures and widespread unemployment. The committee and a proposed design competition lapsed.

Twelve years later a meeting of subscribers sent a new deputation to the state government for financial support. This time they met with success. H. L. Jackman’s winning memorial design featured a bronze tripod and theodolite on a tall polished granite column of Murray Bridge red granite and a base of Monarto grey granite. Jackman was appointed architect-in-charge, with J. J. Leahy contracted to erect the monument. A. W. Dobbie & Co. cast the bronze work, F. Burmeister did the engraving and F. H. Herring polished the monolith. The 1876 marble tablet was removed in 1905. It was renovated and mounted on slate, before being presented to the Public Library Board to be exhibited in the vestibule of the State Library.

William Light was the Colony`s first Surveyor-General and was given sole responsibility for selecting the site of Adelaide and preparing the City Plan in 1836-37, for which he has been much praised. He also designed the layout of main roads and subdivision into `sections` of much of the present metropolitan area.

The sun shone out with all the warmth of spring on Wednesday morning when the ceremony of unveiling the memorial to Colonel Light took place in Light-square. The memorial is 35 ft. high, and is constructed of South Australian granite. The pedestal is of Mintaro grey granite, and from the base of the column to the top of Murray Bridge red granite. The shaft is crowned by a burnished capstan-shaped block, and upon it rests a bronze tripod and a theodolite, which is suspended in a horizontal position. The instrument stands 6 ft. high. The monolith weighed 6 tons when it came from the quarry, and after polishing it weighed about 4 tons. On the front and back of the pedestal on raised panels are the two bronze plates.
Chronicle (Adelaide, SA), 24 June 1905.


Address:Light Square, Currie Street, Adelaide, 5000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.925076
Long: 138.593617
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - Colonial
Designer:H. L. Jackman (designer)
Monument Manufacturer:John Joseph Leahy


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 21st June, 1905
Front Inscription

In memory of Colonel William Light,
First Surveyor-General, 

By whom the site of Adelaide was fixed on December 29, 1836.

Died October 5, 1839. 
Aged 53 years. 

Buried here October 10, 1839.


Back Inscription

Erected by the people of South Australia, assisted by the Government of the State and the Corporation of the City of Adelaide, in place of the monument raised by the pioneers in 1844.

Unveiled by the Mayor of Adelaide (Theodore Bruce),
21st June. 1905.

Source: SAM,MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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