Nelson Road, SE10

Place Name

Features on John Rocque’s Map of 1746 but obviously not named. Given Greenwich’s connection with the navy, the Royal Hospital for Seaman opened in 1694, it is unsurprising that when the road was opened up to the public and named it should be named after its greatest naval hero. It features as a named road in A plan of the Parish of St. Alphage Greenwich in the county of Kent from an actual survey by WR Morris. Indeed his body brought to Greenwich on December 23, 1805. His body lay in state in the Painted Hall from January 5 to 7, 1806. More than 15,000 people came to pay their respects and many more were turned away. His body was then taken from Greenwich up the Thames to Whitehall on  January 8, spending the night before the funeral at the Admiralty. He was laid to rest at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Admiral Horatio Nelson (September 29, 1758 – October 21, 1805), 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, hero of the Battle of Trafalgar who 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.

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