It was a rather special and unique event as I joined hundreds of other people from South Shields and beyond to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the death of Vice Admiral Lord Collingwood the Tyneside man who stepped into the breach at Trafalgar following the death of Admiral Lord Nelson and whose tactics led to the eventual British victory over the French fleet. Yesterday thousands gathered in Newcastle, Tynemouth and South Shields for a special celebration which included the “firing” of the four guns of “The Royal Sovereign” Collingwood’s ship at the Battle of Trafalgar which are mounted at the base of the memorial in Tynemouth facing South Shields, it is not known when these guns last saw action but yesterday’s symbolic firing using modern pyrotechnics and small explosions were an effective and fitting tribute to one of Tyneside’s most honoured men of British history.
Following military displays and a service in St. Nicholas cathedral in Newcastle attended by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope and the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Mike Cookson, The parade, was led by Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band (Plymouth),and included detachments from the Royal Navy Type 22 frigate HMS Cumberland, the gunnery training college HMS Collingwood, based in Hampshire, as well as representatives from the north east’s naval reservist unit HMS Calliope and RMR Tyne. HMS Cumberland then made her way down the Tyne after a goodwill visit specifically to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar and the Collingwood 2010 celebrations, and fired a nineteen gun salute as she past the crowds lining the mouth of the river. That salute was answered by the field artillery guns of 101 (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers) which includes amongst it’s numbers the 205 (3rd Durham Volunteer Artillery) based at Horsley Hill, South Shields.
HMS Cumberland was then joined by what looked like a RFA vessel Wave Knight – a fast fleet tanker – lying a mile or so off the piers to continue her duties.
You can read more about Collingwood’s life and the Battle of Trafalgar here.
Although we stood on the Groyne in pleasant spring sunshine there was a biting breeze and it was quite chilly in the shade of the lighthouse, parking was at a premium as every vantage point close to the river was sought and the junction of Ocean Road and Sea Road became a serious pinch point as crowds made their way home after the event.
Further pictorial posts will appear in South Shields Daily Pictures in a couple of days time.