Repair crew stumbles on 200-year-old cannons in Penang

The two new cannons are the longest ones that have been discovered in the past two years. In the background is the City Hall.

GEORGE TOWN: A construction crew repairing the seawall of Penang’s seafront adjacent to the City Hall here recently stumbled on two cannons believed to be at least 230 years old.

The two cannons bring the number of old cannons found in the area surrounding the City Hall, Esplanade and Fort Cornwallis to six. The four other cannons were found earlier during conservation work in the area.

The two cannons found recently are also the longest so far, measuring 3.6m, compared to the 2m to 2.4m cannons found previously near an old covered-up moat surrounding the 18th-century fort built by the British East India Company.

The two cannons are likely to be from the late 1790s and 1800s.

In a press conference held at the site with the National Heritage Department today, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the Penang Island City Council would fund the conservation efforts of the two new cannons at a cost of RM80,000.

The earlier restored cannons and mortars are now being displayed in nearby Fort Cornwallis.

Chow said with the latest find, it was believed that there could be more relics found in the Esplanade grounds or the Padang Kota Lama. He said there were no plans to excavate but the area would be “scanned” using high-tech devices.

Currently, the Penang Chief Minister Inc and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture are restoring the northern seafront and the areas spanning from Light Street to the Queen Victoria clock tower.

The digging up of the old moat at Fort Cornwallis is also part of the project. The moat is said to have been covered up hundreds of years ago due to an outbreak of malaria.

Archaeologists believed the fort could have over 100 cannons and about 10 mortars still embedded underground.

The project is expected to be completed by next year.