Sunderland naval here Jack Crawford features in new documentary

Sunderland naval hero Jack Crawford is the subject of a new documentary film produced by North East based company, Lonely Tower Film & Media

Mark Thorburn, left, and Brian Franklin at Jack Crawford's statue in Mowbray Park in Sunderland
Mark Thorburn, left, and Brian Franklin at Jack Crawford's statue in Mowbray Park in Sunderland

The exploits of Wearside naval hero Jack Crawford has been made into a film.

Crawford served on Admiral Duncan’s flagship Venerable during the 1797 Battle of Camperdown against the Dutch.

During the battle, part of the Venerable’s mast was felled, including the Admiral’s flag.

Lowering the Admiral’s personal flag was a sign of surrender and despite being under intense gunfire, Crawford climbed the mast and nailed the colours to the top

This was the origin of the saying of nailing your colours to the mast.

The British went on to win a resounding victory.

Crawford is now the subject of a new documentary produced by North East based company, Lonely Tower Film & Media.

Crawford, a keelman, was born in the East End of Sunderland.

After the battle he was formally presented to the King and was given a Government pension of £30 a year, and later a silver medal from the people of Sunderland, which can be seen in the city’s museum.

However, he fell on hard times and became the second victim of the Sunderland cholera epidemic of 1831.

In the late 19th Century public donations led to a statue being erected in Mowbray Park.

Mark Thorburn who runs Lonely Tower said: “We are a company with a passion for the region’s history and heritage and wanted to showcase what we can do.

“With a personal interest in maritime history and the age of Nelson, the story of local lad Jack Crawford was too good to miss’”

With the help of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society, North East historian and author Max Adams and the HMS Trincomalee Trust in Hartlepool, Lonely Tower set out to make its film.

Mark said: “To work with local history groups, societies and museums is our goal as there are so many terrific stories to tell and I would urge any local organisation who would like to share their stories to get in touch to see how we can really bring the past back to life.”

For the launch of the film Jack Crawford – The Hero of Camperdown Jack’s great, great, great, great grandson Brian Franklin travelled to the region from his home in Buckinghamshire and visited Crawford’s grave in Holy Trinity churchyard in Hendon.

Brian said: “To have such an ancestor is very humbling and exciting, and to see the way that he was honoured by Sunderland is very moving.

“Mark shared the new documentary with me and it is fantastic, I hope that his story will be heard by an even wider audience.”

The company’s next project, currently in production, is on the Great Fire of Tyneside in 1854 which virtually demolished the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides.


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