Nelson Road, E11

Place Name

Originally called Asylum Road, this used to run alongside the Merchant Seamen’s Orphan Asylum which was opened in 1861. The Asylum buildings were extended over the years and by 1883 housed 270 orphans but in 1920 it moved to Bearwood. It was purchased for a hospital in 1938 by Essex County Council and in 1948 became Wanstead Hospital when it joined the new NHS. Wellington Road which runs off this one was already well established, being laid out and so named from the time of development. It seems appropriate therefore, given the maritime connection to rename the road after Britain’s most successful naval commander. The hospital closed in 1986. Admiral Horatio Nelson (September 29, 1758 – October 21, 1805), 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, hero of the Battle of Trafalgar scored a number of decisive British naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. Born into a Norfolk family he was named Horatio after his godfather Horatio Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford. His naval career began on New Year’s Day 1771, when he reported to the third-rate HMS Raisonnable as an ordinary seaman and coxswain under his maternal uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling, who commanded the vessel. Shortly after reporting aboard, Nelson was appointed a midshipman and began officer training. Early in his service, he discovered that he suffered from seasickness, a chronic complaint that dogged him for the rest of his life. That aside he proved himself a brilliant seaman showing inspirational leadership combined with unconventional tactics, including at the Battle of Nile. He was, wrote historian Paul Johnson: “By far the most aggressive leader in the Napoleonic Wars with France – more aggressive, if possible, than Napoleon Bonaparte himself. All his instincts were for action at the earliest opportunity, on the largest scale, until the enemy was ‘annihilated’ – a favourite word of his. He was not in the least blood-thirsty but he was ship-thirsty. He wanted to destroy, incapacitate, but above all capture enemy ships. He wanted to leave Britain’s opponents without a single serviceable warship, leaving her command of the sea absolute.” He was killed in action, aged 47, when as commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet on board the flagship HMS Victory he was shot by a French marksman during the Battle of Trafalgar near the Spanish port city of Cádiz. His success in destroying the French fleet allowed Britain to become the world’s largest sea power for 100 years making it the most important sea battle of the 19thCentury. Nearby streets include Rodney Road and Victory Road. A number of other nearby roads also have a connection to Nelson.

Nelson Road, E11
Previously called Asylum Road as it ran alongside the Merchant Seamen’s Orphan Asylum the name was later changed when it became Wanstead Hospital


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