The design of the Merewether Memorial employs the form of an Eleanor Cross and is in the English Medieval style. There are spires which could have served as a basis for the design of this memorial; for example, St. Mary at Bloxham, St. Peter at Kettering, St. Peter at Raunds and Meven St. Mary at Oxford. In fact, each one may have provided an ingredient or two for the design of this fine memorial tower.
Building designers of the time had become increasingly aware of the capabilities of Indian craftsmen, thus the skill and craftsmanship which has been available to medieval builders was also at Strachan’s disposal. Strachan was no doubt aware of the intricate carving executed by native craftsmen for the baserellets designed by Kipling for the Crawford Markets and the then under construction Victoria Terminus. The Memorial shows a heightened sensitivity to detailing and an emphasis on carving and decoration, more then my other building designed by Strachan. Whereas the Empress Market’s tower is a little squat, the Merewether Tower is elegant and tall, evoking memories of medieval England.
It was named for Merewether, who served as ‘Commissioner-in-Sindh’ from 1868 to 1877. Richard Burton, on his last visit to Karachi, paid a tribute to his friend while describing the Government House: ” It is at present occupied by General Sir William L. Merewether, K.C.S.I. etc.etc.etc. an officer who, by entire devotion to the interests of his province, the scene of his distinguished career during the last thirty-three years, has made epoch’ and history” (Burton 1877:1.76) Burton’s opinion of Merewether’s services were no doubt shared by others. Initially, a pier had been named in memory of the former ‘Commissioner-in-Sindh’. Constructed by the Karachi Harbour Board, which had been formed in 1880, the Merewether Pier had cost three lakh rupees (1882). However, it was later decided that a worthy and visible memorial was in order – a memorial tower of such “prominence as to dominate the skyline of the city” to be built by public subscription. The Tower was placed at the confluence of McLeod and Bunder Road, at the extreme western end of the Serai Quarter, an area which was developed into a thriving commercial center concurrently with the rising fortunes of the city. The Memorial took eight years to complete, and was handed over to the Municipality in 1892 by ‘Commissioner-in-Sindh’ Evan James. The total cost of the structure and its clock was merely Rs. 37,178 compared to the Rs. 180,000 lavished on the much bigger memorial to Bartle Frere, Frere Hall.
The Memorial Tower stands on a platform 44 feet square and rises to a height of 102 feet. It prominently displays the clock placed at the base of the spire, 70 feet from the ground. Each of the clock’s four faces is seven feet in diameter. The large bell installed at the time weighed three hundred weight and struck at every hour, while the smaller bells weighed one hundred weight each and marked every quarter of an hour.