Admiral Lord Collingwood 1748-1810
The Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October 1805
“… Only once did the enemy come out in force. Yet the scale was heroic;…”
The war in the Mediterranean 1803-1810 Brave, modest and wise, Collingwood was devoted to King and country. His flagship, the Royal Sovereign fired the Battle of Trafalgar’s first shot. During the battle Nelson exclaimed “See how that noble fellow Collingwood takes his ship into action”.
As his close friend Admiral Lord Nelson lay dying, he took over command of the British fleet during the thunderous battle, seeing it to a victorious conclusion. With Collingwood’s help the British Navy did not lose a single ship at Trafalgar which remains one of the most critical naval battles ever fought in British history. Had the Royal Navy lost the battle, Napoleon could have swept across the channel and invaded England.
Born in Newcastle in 1748, Cuthbert Collingwood joined the Royal Navy in 1761. On-board the frigate Shannon, commanded by his uncle, Captain (afterwards Admiral) Braithwaite, he learned the rudiments of seamanship. The American War of Independence and then the Napoleonic War pitched him into a number of victorious encounters and he rose swiftly through the naval ranks with his friend Horatio Nelson, whom he had met in Jamaica in 1772 whilst they were both midshipmen.
Though remaining fond of his North East roots, Collingwood never returned to his family in Morpeth after the Battle of Trafalgar. He died at sea near Menorca in 1810 and was later buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral beside Nelson. The Monument erected by public subscription in 1845, this Grade II* Listed monument was sculpted in marble and sandstone by John Graham Lough and stands on top of a pedestal designed by well-known, local architect John Dobson. The position of the monument marks Collingwood’s family connection with North Shields (Members of his family lived close by at Chirton, North Shields.) and allows the statue to be seen from the sea and the river. Did you know that? The four cannons flanking the Monuments steps came from the flagship Royal Sovereign and were added in 1848.