Little do the police or protestors realise that the plinth that the statue of Cook is standing on is made of Moruya Granite
Photo by Hayden Moriarty
Moruya's resident historian, Norm Moore writes:
The statue was cast by Cox and Sons at the Thomas Ditton Foundry England, and reached a final figure of 4,400 pounds. But in 1878, Woolner claimed the contract he was forced to sign was dishonest, and the sculpture had cost him another 2,000 pounds.
The statue was kept on display in London’s Strand Arcade for several weeks, attracting huge crowds - many spell bound at its enormity & attention to detail.
It appears the statue arrived and was set up on its pedestal by early 1879, and plans for its unveiling well underway so as to co-inside with the anniversary of Cook’s untimely death, in February, 1789.
Since the life & career of Captain Cook had been one steeped and bound by naval traditions it was not unexpected the unveiling celebration would feature displays depicting ‘moments in time’ symbolic and in keeping with his life, and the lives in general of sea-fairing men and their families.
The preparations were enormous, and required considerable planning & attention to detail, and for which, Colonial architect James Barnet was placed in charge. He designed two grandstands, each capable of holding 2,000 spectators, and a dais with enclosure, – “suitable for the seating of many prominent citizens of the day”!
The firm of Messrs. Hudson Bros. was placed in charge of construction and the eminent firm of Messrs. David Jones & Co. Esq, was given the task of draping and upholstering of the VIP’s dais enclosure - “In the most resplendent materials of the day.”
A gathering of ships anchored in Port Jackson, including steamers H.M.S. Wolverene , H.M.S. Emerald and five Schooners of the Royal Navy, gave little indication of the “pomp & circumstance” and excitement that was to come.
The parade was put underway led with a contingent of mounted police. This was soon followed by the band of H.M.S. Wolverine and companies of six hundred sailors and marines, then 200 marchers from units of the NSW Royal Artillery. Spectacular enough was this but then a crowd of 12,000 joined the parade and grew to near 100,000 as the monument to Captain Cook was about to be unveiled.
A group of 200 white frocked school girls adorned with broad blue sashes and navy blue hats, attracted some of the crowds attention as did a large number of dignitaries from the Australian Patriotic Association. Then came a moment of silence and a scene of poignancy as the aged and unsteady figure of Captain Thomas Watson was guided to his seat.
Immediately the Governor arrived & was seated, Chairman of the Committee, Sir Alfred Stephens, took Watson by the hand and introduced him to Sir Hercules. There followed a moment of pleasure, as the Governor warmly shook the Captain’s hand in congratulations –declaring, “He knew him to be the instigator of the project”. There was much clapping and cheering as the crowd took in the joy of the unexpected delay in proceedings.
Historic image from Norm Moore's "The Forgotten History Of Louttit's Quarry& Captain Cook's Monument"