Region celebrates Trafalgar day

THOUSANDS of people up and down the county were in celebratory mood yesterday to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar.On October 21 1805, a fleet of 27 British ships of the line, under the command of Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, met and fought a combined French and Spanish fleet of 33 ships off the coast of south-west Spain, near the port of Cadiz.

THOUSANDS of people up and down the county were in celebratory mood yesterday to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar.

On October 21 1805, a fleet of 27 British ships of the line, under the command of Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, met and fought a combined French and Spanish fleet of 33 ships off the coast of south-west Spain, near the port of Cadiz.

The result was an overwhelming British victory, with a total of 19 enemy ships captured and more than 7,000 French or Spanish sailors killed or wounded.

And yesterday the region took time to remember the epic battle - and subsequent death of England's greatest naval hero - as they marked the Bicentenary anniversary in style.


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Communities across East Anglia last night joined with those all over the country to take part in beacon lighting ceremonies to mark the anniversary.

The Queen began a chain of 1,000 beacons when she lit a beacon close to Admiral Nelson's flagship HMS Victory in Portsmouth.

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At Southwold hundreds of people gathered at Gun Hill to see the Mayor, Ann Betts, oversee the lighting of the Suffolk town's own beacon.

The evening began with a torchlight procession from the town hall to Gun Hill led by members of the Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums.

Former mayor and current town councillor John Winter played the national anthem on his trumpet before the large crowd was entertained by music provided by the Rollercoasters and a superb firework display after the historic canons at Gun Hill were ceremoniously “fired”.

In Ipswich, where Lord Nelson was appointed High Sheriff in 1800, pupils at St John's Primary School topped off a week of all things nautical with a special assembly.

Headteacher Helen Picton said: “All week classrooms have been turned into ships, with the teachers as the captain and pupils as sailors.

“They've not only learnt about ship building and what life was like during Nelson's time but they've also been able to play music on the horn pipe and make admiral hats and ship's biscuits. The final event is an assembly to showcase all the work.

“It's important for us to take part in the 200 year celebrations because the school has a special link with Nelson and Lady Hamilton as our car park was built on the site of Roundwood House, which the couple bought in 1798.”

Across the border in Essex there were also numerous celebrations yesterday as towns sought to mark the event.

Children at Mersea Island School have been learning about the battle in many of their lessons and yesterday held a special assembly where sea shanties were sung as each class contributed towards the event.

There was also a full-size boat at the school which had been decked out to look like HMS Victory while the pupils all dressed up in nautical costume and there was even some mermaids to be seen.

Deputy headteacher, Barbara Spriggs said: “The local community has all been involved and all the 420 children have been up to the island's library to learn about it.

“We wanted to do something really special for Trafalgar Day and we have learning about it all in various lessons for the past two to three weeks.”

Meanwhile, a north Suffolk village where the mother of Admiral Nelson was born will be celebrating the anniversary in grand style this weekend.

The Holy Trinity Church at Barsham, near Beccles, is the venue for a series of events lasting all over the weekend.

A celebration of flowers to commemorate the famous battle opened at the church yesterday and is on today, tomorrow and Monday.

The village is proud of its strong connections to Lord Nelson and a special service is being held at the church tomorrow at 11am.

The Rt Rev Clive Young, Bishop of Dunwich, will bless and re-dedicate the church organ that has taken three months to restore.

Immediately following the service about 200 people, including sea cadets and members of the Royal Naval Association, will meet at nearby Barsham Rectory, for a parade across the green outside the church.

Bernadette Suckling, a direct descendant of Nelson's mother, will be invited to take the salute.

Mow Mowbray, churchwarden at Barsham, said the organ was the only one in the country to be restored using wood from HMS Victory.

“This organ has been rebuilt in three months and cost £40,000,” he said. “What is so nice is when you look at Barsham church's old rectory it has never altered since Nelson's mother had been there.”

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