HE was described yesterday as one of Newcastle’s greatest sons, a Northumbrian heart of oak, a great Englishman and a saviour of the nation.
The tributes were paid to Admiral Lord Collingwood at a public service of commemoration at St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle on the 200th anniversary – to the day – of his death at sea.Related content
The service was held just yards away from where naval hero Cuthbert Collingwood was born in the Side 261 years ago, the son of a trader, and in the church where he was baptised and married.
A wreath was laid at the monument to Collingwood in the cathedral by Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, First Sea Lord and chief of the naval staff.
He spoke of Collingwood’s key role in the Battle of Trafalgar against the combined French and Spanish fleets.
Collingwood’s ship Royal Sovereign was the first to engage the enemy and he took over command of the fleet when his close friend of more than 30 years Lord Nelson was killed, and also had to contend with a huge storm after the battle which battered the surviving ships.
Sir Mark said: “He played an important role in many of Nelson’s victories and was to do so again at Trafalgar.
“He was also a man of humanity who was ahead of his time. He strove to improve the conditions of the sailors of the day, was against flogging and press gangs, and showed courage and a steadfast commitment to duty.”
Collingwood, who made his family home at Morpeth, spent 44 of his 49-year naval service at sea.
The Very Rev Christopher Dalliston, Dean of Newcastle, said: “Admiral Collingwood is a hero of the past but continues to inspire respect and admiration and he is remembered for his courage and humanity.”
Max Adams, Gateshead-based biographer of Collingwood, told the congregation that the true character of the man was shown in the letters he sent home, some of which were read out at the service by the Admiral’s descendants.
“In these letters he laid bare his heart to those he loved,” said Mr Adams. Peter Warwick, chairman of the 1805 Club which is dedicated to the Georgian navy, said: “Nelson recognised that Collingwood was a brave and a good man. He wrote to Collingwood saying that no man has more confidence in another than I have in you.”
The choir of Newcastle Royal Grammar School, where Collingwood was a pupil, performed at the service, which was preceded by a naval parade through the city, with Sir Mark and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Mike Cookson, taking the salute.
The parade involved more than 200 representatives from the Royal Navy and was led by the Royal Marines Band.
Captain Stephen Healy, chairman of the Collingwood 2010 Festival Committee, said last night: “The crowds were fantastic and the weather could not have been better.
“I think Admiral Lord Collingwood would have been quietly embarrassed by all the fuss we have made of him.”
Last night at Christ Church in North Shields, where the Collingwood family owned Chirton House, there was a special ringing of the bells which would have been sounded to celebrate the victory at Trafalgar. There was also a night of events at the Collingwood Arms in Jesmond in Newcastle.
And North Tyneside Council has taken out of storage its painting of Collingwood, which is now on display in the Quadrant, the authority’s headquarters at Cobalt Business Park, above th council chamber entrance.
Page 3 - Longing for his family >>
Longing for his family
AMONG the Collingwood letters read at yesterday’s two services were:
•To Jane Blackett, October 1800: “It is a great comfort to me, banished as I am from all that is dear to me, to learn that my beloved Sarah (his wife, formerly Sarah Blackett) and her girls (their daughters Sarah and Mary) are well. Would to heaven it were peace that I might come, and for the rest of my life be blessed in their affection. I have come to the resolution which is, when this war is happily terminated, to think no more of ships but pass the rest of my days in the bosom of my family.”
•To his wife Sarah and their daughters. February 1806: “My darlings little Sarah and Mary I was delighted with your last letters, my blessings, and desire you to write to me very often and tell me all the news of Newcastle and Morpeth.
“I hope we shall have very many happy days and many a good laugh together yet.”
•To his sister-in-law: “Fourteen to sixteen hours of every day I am employed, with an active and powerful enemy, always threatening.”
•To Dr Carlyle: “This is the third summer that I have hardly seen the leaf of the trees except through a glass at the distance of some leagues.”
Crowds get a taste of Trafalgar
CROWDS which lined the banks of the Tyne yesterday were given a taste of Trafalgar as the four cannons from Admiral Lord Collingwood’s flagship were “fired”.
Pyrotechnic boxes were strapped beneath the muzzles of the cannons on the Collingwood monument at Tynemouth and were fired by wire to produce the sound and appearance of the Royal Sovereign guns in action.
There was more gunfire to follow, with the Type-22 frigate HMS Cumberland, visiting the Tyne for the Collingwood events, discharging a 19-gun salute as it sailed out of the river.
That was answered by the field guns of the Royal Artillery’s 101 Regiment.
The cannons were shipped from Woolwich in London to the Tyne in 1848 after the 100-gun Royal Sovereign was broken up in 1841. The monument, by Northumbrian sculptor John Graham Lough, had been funded by public subscription was unveiled in 1845.
The cannons also signalled the start of the day’s second service for Admiral Lord Collingwood, which was held before 200 guests in a marquee at the foot of the monument on which the statue of the Admiral looks out to sea.
The service, which also included readings of Collingwood’s letters, was led by the Rev Geoff Lowson, vicar of Holy Saviours Church in Tynemouth, who said: “Admiral Collingwood was a man of duty and service, a naval man and a family man.”
Singing at the service were pupils from Collingwood Primary School in North Shields which uses the Admiral’s motto “Loyalty and Service”.
The names of ships associated with Collingwood have also been used for the school houses.
Page 4 - Death on journey home >>
Death on journey home
AFTER the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Collingwood served as commander in chief of the Mediterranean, and had a base on the one-time British colony of Menorca.
He had not seen England since putting to sea in 1803, and as his health failed, he asked to return but such was his value his requests were turned down.
But by the end of 1809 he was very ill, complaining of a loss of digestion and constant pain.
It is thought he may have been suffering from pylorus, which affects the stomach, after so many years of lack of exercise and life in a cramped cabin, or he may have had cancer. On February 22, 1810, weak and tottering on his legs, he resigned his command.
On March 6 he set sail in his ship Ville de Paris from Menorca to England.
On the morning of March 7, there was a heavy sea and the captain asked Collingwood if it was disturbing him.
"I am now in a state in which nothing in this world can disturb me more," the 61-year-old Collingwood replied.
An account reads: "After taking an affectionate farewell of his attendants, he expired without a struggle at six o’clock in the evening. Lord Collingwood’s death was dignified and noble."