Permanent tribute plan for town’s hero

Lord Collingwood.

Lord Collingwood.

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A PERMANENT tribute to Morpeth’s great naval hero could take pride of place in the Town Hall.

Efforts are under way to raise £4,000 for a bronze bust of Admiral Lord Collingwood.

The sea lord, who lived in Oldgate, Morpeth, was dubbed ‘the Northumbrian who saved the nation’ after leading the British fleet to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar on the death of his friend Horatio Nelson.

A year-long festival was held in 2010 to mark the 200th anniversary of Collingwood’s death, with dances, concerts, walks and exhibitions organised in Morpeth, as well as a civic dinner, memorial service, military parade and lectures in Newcastle.

Events also took place as far away as Menorca, where Collingwood was posted for several years at the end of his career, and the Menorca Britannia Association commissioned a life-size bronze bust in his honour.

Now the Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) is leading a project to create a replica of the sculpture.

Heritage Officer Tamsin Lilley said: “This all came about as a result of links with Menorca last year when it commissioned the bust. It would be nice to get a replica for Morpeth.

“All the artistic work has been done and we can use the Menorcan moulds so we just have the costs of having the bust made. We need to raise about £4,000, but quite a few people have given money already.

“The bust will be placed in the Butter Market of the Town Hall. It is part of looking at how we can do more displays around the town.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for Morpeth to raise the profile of Collingwood and also our links to Menorca, but if we don’t get the funds we can’t go ahead with it.

“A lot of people have come to us asking if we can do some sort of memorial to Collingwood so we hope we will get the support we need.”

The original bust was created by English sculptor Helen Ridehalgh and was positioned looking towards Hotel Almirante, Collingwood House, in Port Mahon, which the admiral used as his Menorcan shore quarters.

Sailors from HMS Monmouth provided an honour guard as the bust was unveiled and three English oak saplings were planted to reflect Lord Collingwood’s habit of dropping acorns to ensure the Royal Navy had plentiful supplies of timber to build ships.

The identical bust for Morpeth would further strengthen the association between the two communities and Morpeth Mayor Ken Brown is in full support of the project.

“Morpeth’s links with Lord Collingwood are known worldwide and if we can raise the money the bust will be a fitting town tribute to this great man from the pages of British history,” he said.

Cuthbert Collingwood was born in Tyneside, setting off for a life at sea at the age of 12. When he returned home 26 years later he was a celebrated captain and married Sarah Blackett, the daughter of the Mayor of Newcastle, in 1791.

The couple lived in Morpeth with their two daughters for two years, before Collingwood was called away for almost a decade.

However, he often wrote of his love for the town in letters home and when he returned his favourite pastime was laying out his garden, complete with his ‘quarter deck’ riverside walkway and ‘poop deck’ summer house.

Collingwood was promoted to Vice-Admiral in 1804 and after his success at Trafalgar the following year he was persuaded to stay on as Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy by King George III.

He was posted to Menorca, finally receiving permission to return to his beloved Morpeth home in 1810, but sadly he died just seven days out of port.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the Collingwood bust project should contact Miss Lilley on 01670 503866 or e-mail tamsin.lilley@gmdt.org

There will also be collections at Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering, running from Friday, April 29 to Sunday, May 1. The organising committee is keen to hear from anyone who is willing to dress up as the admiral to support the cause and a costume will be provided.

For further information visit www.northumbriana.org.uk