On Friday evening the 211th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar was again celebrated in style by Club members and their guests. Over 70 gentlemen assembled in the Britannia Room for the annual black tie event which is undoubtedly Club’s premier social occasion. At precisely 19h00 the piper piped the party into the elegantly set Trafalgar Room and, as usual, the room was transformed to host the evening which by tradition is conducted in the format of a naval mess dinner. The appropriately themed Trafalgar Room houses the Club’s collection of artworks depicting this great battle and a number of portraits of Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson. The latest addition to the collection, which was kindly donated by Mr. Vernon Goss, who was unable to attend the dinner, but sent his best wishes for much merriment. One of which is is a beautifully framed original page from the Times of London providing a graphic account of the battle and Nelson’s final moments is now on permanent display in the Trafalgar Room,
The gentlemen sat down to a sumptuous 3 course meal and fine wines. After dinner the guest of honour and long standing club member, Captain Nicholas Sloane, gave an entertaining account of Lord Nelson and the modern maritime salvage industry which was peppered with many little known interesting facts and a great deal of humour. An impressive selection of Artesian cheeses and generous volume of good port followed together with the usual camaraderie, toasting and general good banter between the members of the port watch and the starboard watch. By the end of the evening the starboard watch was judged to have “won the evening” with their wit and eloquence. Thereafter the gentlemen adjourned to the Britannia Room for a night cap and the odd cigar before retiring for the evening. One or two stragglers were seen enjoying the evening on the Upper Deck long after the Club closed as they had the presence of mind to order sufficient drink before the bar closed to tide them over until their taxis arrived shortly before the sunrise.
All in all, the evening was highly successful and thoroughly entertaining and the club staff excelled in their delivery. Those members who were unfortunate not to attend the occasion certainly missed a wonderful evening and will hopefully be in attendance next year to commemorate the 212th anniversary of the most famous naval engagement in history.
Although not present at the dinner longstanding club member Chris Lacey, now residing in Malta, sent his fond regards and best wishes to all his old friends and included some little known facts about Trafalgar.
Interestingly, Nelson’s forces comprised of 27 ships; while the combined French and Spanish fleet had 33. The British lost no ships in the battle; the French and Spanish lost 22.
The name of Trafalgar comes from an Arabic phrase meaning cape of the cave or laurel, or possibly cape of the west.
From the 13th to 18th century, London’s Trafalgar Square was the site of the Royal Stables or King’s Mews. It was the architect George Ledwell Taylor who suggested naming it for Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar and Nelson’s Column was erected in 1843.
The renowned British sculptor and artist Sir Edwin Landseer was supplied with a dead lion from the London Zoo as a model for the four bronze lions at the base of the 169 foot high Nelson’s Column. Unfortunately some of the corpse had begun to rot, which is said to be why the lion’s paws resemble those of a cat.