Everyone knows of the famous Battle of Trafalgar and the great old HMS Victory which you can visit with Ye Olde England Tours when life gets back to normal. I think it is perhaps the best day out! Trafalgar Square is of course known around the world along with Nelsons Column which I take so many tourists to.
Less well known if not totally overlooked is the monument to Admiral Collingwood who was actually the man who completed the historic victory at Trafalgar. Though you can see memorials to him in Greenwich and St Pauls Cathedral, his monument is 300 miles north.
Standing overlooking the River Tyne at Tynemouth is the imposing Collingwood Monument but who was he exactly and why the memorial to such an important figure in a rather out of the way place to get to?
Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood, lived from 26th September 1748 to 7th March 1810. He was born in Newcastle and was a son of a Newcastle merchant. At the age of twelve, he went to sea as a volunteer on board the frigate HMS Shannon under the command of his uncle Captain (later Admiral) Richard Braithwaite.
In June 1775 he fought at the battle of Bunker Hill during the siege of Boston, and on the same day was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Collingwood served alongside Nelson two years later, and in 1779 succeeded him as captain of HMS Badger.
The career Collingwood had quite a lot in common with that of Nelson. Both worked their way up the naval hierarchy during the 1780s and 1790s. Collingwood was promoted to vice-admiral in 1804, and at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 was second in command of the British fleet under Admiral Nelson. While Nelson was on board HMS Victory at the head of one half of the fleet that day, Collingwood was on board HMS Royal Sovereign, which was the first British ship to engage. After Nelson was fatally wounded, Collingwood took command of the British fleet as they defeated their French and Spanish counterparts. On 9 November 1805 Collingwood was raised to the peerage as Baron Collingwood, of Caldburne and Hethpool in the County of Northumberland.
Collingwood became Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1805. His health subsequently declined, and Collingwood died on 7 March 1810 while en route back to England for medical leave. He was laid to rest besides his close friend Nelson in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. Collingwood is by far the less well known of the two, but in many eyes he was as accomplished a naval commander as Nelson, and he is very well remembered in NorthEast England. Partly this is due to the gigantic not least Collingwood Monument, built here in the 1840’s.
Funded by public subscription, 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 nearby North Shields and allows the statue to be seen from the sea and the river. The four cannons flanking the steps came from the flagship Royal Sovereign and were added in 1848.
The monument is over 100 feet tall with the statue of Collingwood himself being 23ft in height. It looks even more imposing however due to it standing on land which sharply rises from the River Tyne. The steps up the front of the monument are flanked by four cannons from HMS Royal Sovereign.
A small information plaque is built into the monument.
There is so much else to see in and around Tynemouth, I very much recommend it to people visiting the area.