Thursday, September 08, 2005

Gibraltar - Sentinel of the Mediterranean - A Chronicle of Naval History

Trafalgar and The Royal Navy in Gibraltar

By Alice Mascarenhas

Gibraltar celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of TrafalgarA major exhibition commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and Gibraltar’s relationship with the Royal Navy ‘Sentinel of the Mediterranean – Gibraltar, the Navy & the Strait Maritime’ was officially opened by the Chief Minister on Tuesday night at the Casemates Vaults.

The central piece of the exhibition is the Chronicle of the 24 October 1805, a major scoop for the Chronicle carrying the news of the victory of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson eleven days before the news reached England. It was also its first special edition - Gibraltar Chronicle Extraordinary, which printed a copy of the report by Admiral Collingwood informing the Governor, General Fox, of the victory at Trafalgar. The copy is on loan from the Garrison Library.

Chief Minister Peter Caruana commented how pleased he was to see on display the copy of the Gibraltar Chronicle.

“To this day the Editor of the Chronicle, I have heard him boast abroad about the Chronicle’s scoop, and I am glad to see that this hugely important part of Gibraltar’s own heritage and history, this unique original copy announcing the victory at Trafalgar, this is an important piece of the heritage of the people of Gibraltar,” he said.

The Chief Minister spoke of the enormous effect the Battle of Trafalgar had on the British Empire for the next 200 years, enabling Britain mastery of the seas and the building of the empire.

The exhibition he said was another sign of the huge spore of heritage and culture that the Gibraltar community enjoys in relation to the significant historical part has Gibraltar has played over the centuries.

“It is incredible that a place as small as Gibraltar has played such a huge role in the history of the affairs really of the planet because were it not for the presence of Gibraltar as an integral part of the British Empire so much of the British Empire might not have been possible.”

Mr Caruana paid tribute to the Museum team under Professor Clive Finlayson for the way in which the exhibition had been expanded so that Trafalgar becomes the origin of the rest of Gibraltar’s naval history.

The exhibition housed in four rooms is the joint effort of the The Gibraltar Museum, Gibraltar Heritage Trust and the Royal Navy.

In the first room there is a floor plan highlighting the Battle of Trafalgar. This is where the Gibraltar Chronicle can be seen. The second room looks at the links after Trafalgar and the role Gibraltar played as a ‘sentinel’, and this is followed by Gibraltar’s relationship with the fortress and the Royal Navy.

The last room is an educational interactive area for children – and it is expected that the schools will visit the exhibition over the coming months. It also shows a series of incidents such as the Bedenham explosion graphically depicted through a series of photographs.

In declaring the exhibition officially open Mr Caruana said it was a great honour for Gibraltar to play a part of the Trafalgar commemorations.

On display too is a series of models of ships handmade by Manuel Durante who has built over 700 ships, aircraft and vehicles over 70 years. One late addition to the exhibition is a model of the Victory by Victor Cardona.

The exhibition will remain open until Saturday 5 November 2005. Monday to Friday 10am - 6.30pm. Saturday 10am - 2pm. Entrance is free.

Related Articles & Links:

Gibraltar Government - Ministry of Heritage, Culture, Youth & Sport Press Release - 02 September 2005 - No: 203/2005 - E-mail: minculture@gibnynex.gi

Trafalgar celebrations announced

200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

The Battle of TrafalgarBattle of Trafalgar at Amazon.co.uk

Gibraltar Government Trafalgar Celebrations - Programme of Events.

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