Celebrating Trafalgar

When news of Admiral Lord Nelson's victory at the battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 reached Britain, celebrations were held throughout the country. However, in Wigton things got a little out of hand when a celebratory bonfire destroyed the wooden market cross. The cross had a bell which was rung to mark the start of trading. In place of the cross, a lamp and public water pump were erected. The pump was replaced in 1872 by a fountain given by George Moore in memory of his wife. Both the lamp and pump were relocated to Water Street in 1998. Find out more by following the Wigton Heritage Trail.

Cumbrian folk songs also commemorate the battle, including one called ‘Brave Nelson’ and another ‘The Trafal-gar Sea Fight’. The latter is a poem in Cumberland dialect by Catherine Gilpin (1738-1811) and was later set to music.

Another Cumbrian collection to the Trafalgar celebrations is through the sculptor Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson (1804-1847). Born in Dalston parish near Carlisle, Watson contributed one of the four bas-reliefs of the Nelson monument, ‘The Battle of St. Vincent.’

 

Additional ref:

T. Bulmer & Co., History, Topography and Directory of East Cumberland (Manchester, 1884).

S. A. Allan, ‘Folk Song in Cumbria: a Distinctive Regional Repertoire?’, unpublished PhD thesis, Lancaster University 2016

ODNB, Watson, Musgrave Lewthwaite (1804–1847), Mark Stocker, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/28854