Away in Cumbria for a few days between Christmas and New Year, I visited the monument to Sir John Barrow, Second Secretary to the Admiralty for 40 years between 1804 and 1845, and apparently the first person to stay in a senior civil service post through a change of governing party, having been briefly out of the post in 1806-7 while a Whig government was in power, but specifically asked to stay in when they took power again in 1830.
After the Napoleonic Wars, with a new purpose needed for the navy, Barrow became a great promoter of Arctic exploratio, with the Barrow Strait in Northern Canada named after him, as well as the northernmost point of Alaska.
The monument is based on the third Eddystone lighthouse, but has never actually had a light, although it is visible from the sea and used as a mark.
It was built in 1850, two years after Barrow’s death, with the foundation stone laid by his sons. The coat of arms in presumably his – it seems to be the Barrow family crest with an added hand. I like the squirrel sitting on top!
There wasn’t much of a view when I was up there – the high hills were just about visible as whiter shapes in the grey – but it must have a pretty good one on good days. The line of the old shipping canal is visible as a straight line towards the right here, splitting from the curved line of the railway at the right of the picture – the site of the monument was chosen to be visible from the canal and the bay.
I did more wandering about London than I expected to on the day I was heading for Gibraltar – I was really there for the Trafalgar Day service, but having come out of St Paul’s with time to spare I decided to wander along the river as far as Somerset House, and still having time when I got there I decided I might as well go as far as Trafalgar Square.
This was one of the destination of my first solo trip to London, of course (a quite eclectic trip that one, including the Admiralty, Half Moon Street and the far end of the Cromwell Road!) – but I had actually been there on a much earlier trip, where all I remember is sticking my feet in the fountain on a ridiculously hot day, and having a pigeon stand on my head!
Nelson’s Column is a fairly late monument, despite being the most famous one, not started until 1840.
As with the monument in Glasgow, the different sides of the monument are given over to different battles, this time in the form of bronze reliefs – the death of Nelson at Trafalgar, and Cape St Vincent, the Nile, and Copenhagen.
The top of the column is decorated with metal recovered from the wreck of HMS Royal George.
The Old Admiralty Building is really just round the corner – although I’m not sure that I ever went round to the Horse Guard’s Parade side, so I better go back some time for another prowl around.
I’ve been meaning for a long time to go and see the Nelson Monument on Glasgow Green, which was one of the first erected after Trafalgar, but when I finally got round to trying, on the day of the fireworks, I found they’d shut off the whole park, rather than just the launch area. So Christmas shopping provided an excuse for a second attempt.
The way into the park is through an arch which was once part of the front of Glasgow’s Georgian Assembly Rooms, built just before 1800 by James and Robert Adam.
Two carved panels on the arch show Apollo playing on his lyre and the Three Graces dancing.
Further in, Nelson’s monument is in the form of a very tall obelisk.
This was the first public monument to be put up after Trafalgar, although the monument at Taynuilt, erected by the workers of the Bonawe Iron Foundry which provided cannonballs for thr navy, is earlier.
One side of the base has Nelson’s name and title, and the others have the names of three of his famous battles.
Near the base of the monument, an inscribed stone commemorates the fact that James Watt was walking in the area when he had his idea for a separate condenser for a steam engine. Glasgow Green is a very historic place!