Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Artillery Piece in the Market Square

Since 1863, the obelisk had occupied pride of place in Market Square. After 48 years, it had almost become synonymous with the centre of Port Elizabeth with its water troughs serving as a vital drinking place for thirsty horses. On 4 March 1921 the obelisk was be dethroned to be replaced by the S.A. Heavy Artillery memorial in the form of a howitzer.

Would this memorial gain the cachet of the obelisk or would it be ignominiously removed unlamented? Only time would tell.

Main picture: The howitzer on a granite plinth in Market Square in 1926

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Saga of the Obelisk

Originally intended by John Paterson as a tombstone to his business partner and friend, George Kemp, but when rejected as inappropriate by Kemp’s family, it was salvaged and placed in Market Square where it majestically stood for 58 years.  

Instead of connoting its initial conflicted sepulchral/royal origins, it should have been dedicated to Paterson himself, who could, if you will, be characterised as Port Elizabeth’s greatest son.

This is the story of that saga.

Main picture: The obelisk with its prominent position in Market Square

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