A MARKET town’s strong links with a North East naval hero will be further strengthened with the unveiling of a sculpture to honour his memory.
The life-size bronze bust of Admiral Lord Collingwood – the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 – has been given pride of place in Morpeth Town Hall, a stone’s throw from the house where he once lived.
It will be on permanent public view in the hall’s Butter Market after a successful £4,000 fundraising appeal launched by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) three years ago.
The bust is a replica of one which has gazed out over the harbour in Port Mahon, the capital of Menorca, since 2010.
It will be officially unveiled next week during a day of commemoration and thanksgiving for Collingwood’s life.
Collingwood, dubbed “the Northumbrian who saved the nation” after he completed the British fleet’s historic victory at Trafalgar, has strong links to Morpeth, where he owned a house in Oldgate from 1791 to 1805.
Although born in Newcastle, he made Morpeth his base for many years, and was a familiar figure walking around the town.
He often wrote of his love for the town in letters home, and was on his way back to Morpeth for the last time when he died on board a ship off Port Mahon. The bust, which will be unveiled at a ceremony in the town hall on Thursday, March 7, has been sculpted by artist Helen Ridehalgh.
She was also commissioned by the Menorca Britannia Association to sculpt the bust which was installed as the island’s way of marking the 200th anniversary of Collingwood’s death. The Sea Lord spent the final years of his distinguished 50-year naval career as commander in chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, based in Menorca. It was at the time of the unveiling of the bust on the island that GMDT launched its own fundraising drive to pay for a replica in Morpeth.
Yesterday Kim Bibby-Wilson, the GMDT’s director of heritage, said the target had been reached through support from public donations, as well as contributions from Morpeth Town Council, Friends of Morpeth Museum and the Collingwood Society.
“This is the latest project the trust has developed with the community and key partners to raise the profile of the diverse heritage that Morpeth has to offer, and through the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, to enrich the understanding of residents and visitors alike over the past five years.”
Representatives from Menorca will attend the unveiling ceremony, along with members of Lord Collingwood’s family and Commodore Mike Mansergh from HMS Collingwood.
Morpeth mayor Mark Horton said: “This is going to be a great event celebrating the life and achievements of one of the country’s great heroes.”