27 Apr, 2022

A toast to Colonel William Light

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Guests will join the Lord Mayor and Councillors today to celebrate Colonel William Light’s 236th Birthday with a traditional toast that first began in 1859.

Colonel Light was responsible for surveying the site of the City of Adelaide in the summer of 1837 and today his statue stands on Montefiore Hill, looking out at the city. He selected the location of our city in recognition of the local Kaurna people’s relationship with the site, which sits strategically on the banks of the river, halfway between the hills and the ocean.

The annual ceremony of toasting the memory of Colonel Light (1786 – 1839) began in 1859 when a silver bowl was presented to the Mayor and Corporation of Adelaide. It was presented by four of the original founders of the colony (George Palmer, Jacob Montefiore, Raikes Currie and Alexander Elder) who wished to preserve the memory of the late Colonel.

It was their intention that the ornamental silver bowl, made in England in 1766-67, be used by the Mayor and Members of the Council to help toast the memory of Colonel Light.

When the bowl was presented, a piece of wedding cake of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal of England was also sent to the Corporation by George Palmer (one of the Colonisation Commissioners who planned the settlement of South Australia back in 1835). He intended that the cake be distributed at the meeting at which the memory of Colonel Light was first honoured.

Colonel Light is renowned for the Plan of the City of Adelaide Map and Council acknowledges him at each meeting in the following way: ‘The Council acknowledges the vision of Colonel William Light in determining the site for Adelaide and the design of the city with its six squares and surrounding belt of continuous Park Lands which is recognised on the National Heritage List as one of the greatest examples of Australia’s planning heritage.’

The Lord Mayor said that, since the first ceremony, it has been custom to comply with the annual tradition of recognising Colonel Light’s contribution to the city.

“In today’s fast-paced world, it’s important to take some time out to honour traditions such as these and reflect on the life of our city’s first Surveyor-General,” said the Lord Mayor.

“It is a great honour as Lord Mayor to recall the life and work of Colonel Light every year and to look back at his significant achievements and his association with the city.”

After the ceremony, guests and visitors are invited to inspect the paintings, maps and other historic items on display in Adelaide Town Hall’s Colonel Light Room.

Today’s event commences at 11:00am in the Queen Adelaide Room.

For more information

Matthew Halliwell