Royal Grammar School


Recognition at last?

Recognition at last?

How good it was to see our famous Old Boy, Lord Collingwood, making it to the leader page of The Times on Tuesday! In truth, the editorial wasn’t really about him, but about Hartly Larkin, a foreman on the task of building HMS Victory – the ship that became Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar. 250 years ago Larkin was on duty and realised, all of a sudden, that the gates of the dry-dock weren’t wide enough to allow the magnificent new vessel out into the Thames at Chatham.  

He raised hell with his bosses, as The Times told it, and the gates were widened in time to get Victory out to sea. Without Victory, hypothesised The Times, we Collingwood might have commanded at Trafalgar, and might have had his own column in Trafalgar Square.  

Of course, as a loyal and knowledgeable ON wrote to The Times the next day, everyone on Tyneside (and in Collingwood’s alma mater) knows that he really did win the battle, Nelson – heroic as he was – being shot early on.  

Collingwood didn’t get a London column, though he’s spectacularly commemorated at Tynemouth, but there is a plinth in Trafalgar Square that is vacant, and supporters of Collingwood have said often enough that his memory should be marked by occupying that vacant spot. It hasn’t happened so far: I guess it never will.  

But we shouldn’t forget him. So it’s good that the school is a member of the Collingwood Society which always holds at least one of its annual programme of lectures here at school. So I’ll just take the opportunity of this blog to remind everyone that we are hosting the next Collingwood Society Lecture.  

On Tuesday 10th March at 7.30pm here at school (Miller Theatre) Professor Andrew Lambert will speak on Making an Admiral; Cuthbert Collingwood and the naval profession. Prof Lambert is Laughton Professor of Naval History at King’s College, London, and an expert on Napoleonic naval warfare with an excellent reputation for bringing the unsung gem of naval history to a wider audience through lecturing across the globe and regular media appearances (he even has his own page on IMDb!) - as well as through his writing, which won the 2014 Anderson Medal of the Society of Nautical Research. There is no charge to RGS students; £2 admission for others

Bernard Trafford