The Story of the Cannon

Written By Donald W. Clark. Information from the Tarnagulla and Llanelly Courier and the late Cr. Joseph Renshaw.


The Cannon, March 2000.

The Tarnagulla and Llanelly Courier of Saturday 5th February, 1898, reported - "War and rumors of war are in the air; the latest development in this respect being the mounting of a cannon in our park, which will no doubt, have the effect of keeping an enemy, should one have the temerity to invade-our shores, at a respectable distance from our town."

Messrs B. Phillips, M.L.C., and D. Duggan, M.L.A., on Monday requested the Minister for Defence to allot one of the-guns of the H.M.S. Nelson, to the public park at Tarnagulla. After a little pressure the Minister acceded to the request and one of the sixty four pounder guns was placed in the Reservoir Reserve. This was the last of the guns available. The cannon arrived at Tarnagulla on Friday afternoon 18th February, 1898.

At the Borough Council meeting on Wednesday March 2nd, the position in which the cannon was to be placed was discussed. Positions mentioned being (1) between the Council chambers and Boolls and (2) near the statue at the Reservoir Reserve. It was decided it should be placed at the Reservoir Reserve. At the Borough Council meeting on April 27th, it was reported that the cannon had been placed at the Reservoir and the small mountings locked up in the pavilion. At this time there was a statue of the Fighting Gladiator just inside the main entrance to the Reserve, which was about half way along the eastern fence. Some regarded this statue as a thing of beauty while to others it was a "bold" affair. Also at the Reserve was a swimming dam used by the public for swimming. The cannon was mounted on a wooden gun carriage, on wooden wheels and was placed near the swimming pool.

The cannon was fired on several occasions on Saturday 19th May, 1900, on receipt of the news of the relief of Mafeking. The reports were heard for many miles around and shook the houses and rattled the-crockery. On Wednesday 23rd May, 1900, the towns people held a monster picnic at the Reservoir to celebrate the relief of Mafeking, on which occasion the cannon was again fired. Of this firing the following report was related by the late Mr. Joseph Renshaw, of Strangways; "During the afternoon Mr.Reardon loaded the cannon, a muzzle loader, with sixteen pounds of blasting powder which was tamped in with mud and bags and primed. Mr. Duggan, M.L.A., fired the charge and the cannon hurtled backwards in a cloud of black smoke and dust knocking old Mother - - - - into the swimming pool and coming to rest. itself in the swimming pool. A team of horses was required to pull the cannon out of the pool. The charge in its passage out knocked over the Fighting Gladiator statue and the bags having caught fire set fire to the bush on the south east side of the town.

Mr. Renshaw related these -incidents to me on a number of occasions. His family could verify this and I have no doubt as to his sincerity. Mr. Renshaw died on March 30th, 1972, aged 90 years.

At the Borough Council meeting on Wednesday 25th May, 1900, it was reported that the cannon had been thrown nearly into the swimming dam and would take some trouble to replace it in it's former position. It was overloaded and there was want of knowledge of the recoil. The gun was eventually replaced on its platform.

It was fired also at the end of the first World War to celebrate the Declaration of Peace.

The Cannon was manufactured by Sir W.G. Armstrong & Co. in 1967. Weight 6734 lbs. The Cannon is now situated in the main street of Tarnagulla near the War Memorial.


Photographs of H.M.V.S. Nelson taken from "Navy Australia - An Illustrated History" by George Odgers, 1989. Published by Child & Associates Publishing Pty Ltd.