THE STATUE OF JOCK IN BARBERTON, MPUMALANGA
The artist who created the sculpture of Jock is Ivan Mitford-Barberton, who was born in Somerset East, South Africa in 1896. He was a descendant of several 1820 Settler families. The town called Barberton was co-founded by his ancestors and was named after Henry Barber.
Barberton played an important role in the 1880s during the gold rush. The little town is less than an hours drive from where I live, so I often visit the town and always take a look at the statue of Jock. There is a controversy as to what breed of dog Jock was. A Staffordshire Terrier or an American Staffordshire Terrier? Possibly a mixture of both. Both breeds however, are canines of muscle and strength. The power of the dog is well captured in the neck, chest, hindquarters and legs of the statue. The stone is hewn in a rustic yet precise way, and the weight of the dog is evident. The head is proud and determined. The artist knew his craft and subject well. The statue has stood the test of time – not so, the neglected town around the statue.
Jock of the Bushveld is a famous canine icon – whose owner Percy Fitzpatrick, took him on his travels throughout the Lowveld of South Africa during the 1880s, and what dangerous days those were! Percy worked as a storeman, prospector’s assistant, journalist, and an ox-wagon transporter in the Bushveld region of the Transvaal (then the South African Republic). During their extensive travels, Jock was kicked in the head by a Kudu Antelope, in an area of the Kruger National Park. This incident caused Jock’s deafness, which set up a chain of events that ultimately caused his death.
Percy gave Jock to a friend, Tom Barnett, who lived on a farm to take care of. He was concerned about Jock’s safety in the bustling little town. One day when Tom called Jock, Jock did not respond due to his deafness, and he was mistakenly shot by Tom because he thought Jock was killing chickens on his farm. A twist of fate, as it turned out that Jock had already killed the intruder dog who was killing the chickens. Such a sad, yet heroic ending to a brave and faithful dog.
Percy Fitzpatrick enjoyed relating his and Jock’s adventures to his children. His friend, Rudyard Kipling, (the author of Jungle Book), encouraged him to document these stories, and so the book, Jock of the Bushveld was born. The story has also been produced on film, and an animated 3D version has delighted children all over the world.
The story of Jock is not just about a man and his faithful dog, but will entertain the reader about the history of the Transvaal, and the hardships of the early pioneers, the environment and wildlife, and how this affected those who lived in the tough conditions of those days.
Copyright © Caroline Street. Photography. All rights reserved.