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The Collingwood Society: Last Event of 2013 15 November, 2013

Posted by Molly Joyful in Books, Collingwood Society, Cuthbert Collingwood, Events, Nelson, Royal Navy, things you don't need but probably want.
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“The Trafalgar Storm”

An illustrated talk to the The Collingwood Society
Dr. Dennis Wheeler, assisted by Dr. Tony Barrow


Tuesday 19th November 2013:  7.30pm
The Newcastle upon Tyne Trinity House

Free for members of the Collingwood Society, £2 admission for others.

Dr. Wheeler talks about the EU research project which assembled and analysed centuries of meteorological data from RN warships, shore observing stations and merchantmen from the likes of the East India Company and Hudson Bay Company.  He then draws on the specific entries of the vessels at Trafalgar, together with those of the Cadiz naval station and vividly paints a picture of the developing storm as seen through the eyes of those at the Battle. Dr. Barrow will add some historical (and Collingwood) context, which we are confident will then generate some fascinating floor discussions and opinions.

For contact and more information, please download the flyer for this event here.

In other news: has anybody read this book? Is it any good or not?

“The Life of Admiral Collingwood” by Geoffrey Murray (1936)


Report: “Trafalgar, the Weather and Collingwood” 19 March, 2010

Posted by Molly Joyful in Cuthbert Collingwood, Events, Nelson, Royal Navy, Talks.
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Granville Thompson attended last night’s illustrated talk “Trafalgar, the weather and Collingwood” by Dr. Dennis Wheeler. He was so kind to post about the event in a comment here, but it would be a shame if those who didn’t subscribe to the comment-feed would miss out on it. So I took the liberty to repost it here.


Last night, we were treated to the BBC Shipping Forecast for October 21st 1805 and saw the weather map of the day for the Iberian Peninsula, along with (had he had the technology) what Collingwood (and significantly, others too) would have seen as a satellite image of the gathering storm.  And this all based on actual weather data, including from the Spanish station at Cadiz, methodically recorded on ships and at shore stations at the time.  The speaker explained how this data has been rationalised with modern methods and how an accurate picture of the weather has now been built up for every single day back to 1685!!

We also saw reproductions of extracts from the Victory’s log book and Nelson’s personal journal, with their corresponding meteorological observations.

The conclusion of the discussion which followed Dennis Wheeler’s fascinating talk was that while Collingwood would have correctly interpreted the signs of the approaching storm and accurately assessed its severity, nobody could have predicted its duration.  And this was apparently a seriously unusual storm in that respect.  Therefore, perhaps anticipating a couple of days of bad weather, Collingwood believed that, for the most part, the ships could have ridden it out.

The question was also asked as to why Collngwood was not so strongly criticised at the time for the loss of so many prizes.  In addition to the focus being on the victory and the loss of Nelson, it was emphasised that the ultimate aim was the destruction of the Franco-Spanish Fleet and that if that happened on the rocks or from being overwhelmed by the sea, rather than from cannon fire, then it had anyway been fulfilled.  Prize money, although significant, was incidental to the strategy.

Dennis Wheeler is a cracking speaker and much more widely versed on the political and strategic elements of Trafalgar than I think we all thought he might be – easily able to answer wider historical questions than might be expected from a meteorologist!!

A nice balance to the mainstream topics and well attended too.  I also heard him say that some material from his presentation will be made available for the Festival website.

– Granville Thompson

Collingwood 2010 Event: “Trafalgar, the weather and Collingwood”: a talk by Dr. Dennis Wheeler 14 March, 2010

Posted by Molly Joyful in Cuthbert Collingwood, Events, Nelson, Royal Navy, Talks.
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Locals, mark next Thursday in your calendars:

A talk by Dr. Dennis Wheeler

Thursday 18th March – HMS Calliope, Gateshead,  7.30pm

Admiral Lord Collingwood’s decision after the Battle of Trafalgar to head for Gibraltar rather than anchoring the fleet is still subject of much speculation and discussion (please also see this thread). The Fleet was hit by a terrible storm, many people died, great damage was done and some of the captured prizes were lost. Should Collingwood have known? Did he have all the information? Were warning signs ignored?

Unsurprisingly, opinions vary greatly and arguments are presented with great enthusiasm. One could say that “The storm – was Collingwood right or wrong?” is the Age of Sail equivalent to “Balrogs – winged or not?”; a discussion which has kept aficionados of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work busy for decades…

Dr. Dennis Wheeler is an expert on the matter, so you can expect new facts and views; definitely an event which promises to be very interesting!

The talk is open to the public, but you have to register previously so you’ll get access to HMS Calliope.

I wish everybody attending the talk an enjoyable evening! Reports are, as always, very welcome.

And don’t forget: keep an eye on the diary on the Official Collingwood 2010 Website!