The Fort Cornwallis, named after the Governor General in Bengal in the late 1700s, Charles Cornwallis, is one of the most interesting historical landmarks in Georgetown, Penang. It is located close to the Esplanade, next to the Victoria Memorial Clock. Originally, Fort Cornwallis was a wooden structure. Between 1808 and 1810, it was rebuilt with convict labor. Today, the old fort still stands, but its precincts have been converted into a public park and playground. Its ramparts are still guarded by the old cannons; the most venerable and famous of which is Seri Rambai”, known to many Penang residents as “the travelling cannon”. The cannon has certainly travelled. Cast in Holland, it was presented by the Dutch to the Sultan of Johor in 1606. Seven years later, in a devastating raid on Johor, it was captured by the Achenese in search of a Bugis alliance. After the British bombarded Kuala Selangor in 1871, the cannon was captured and brought to Penang.
For several years, it was left lying in the sea off the Esplanade until it was hauled out and places as its present location. Like most ancient cannons, Seri Rambai is attributed with magical powers; it is believed that women desiring children will have their wish fulfilled if they place flowers in the cannon’s barrel and offer a pray. Legends are always a beautiful mystery, but that is not a loss for giving a try.