admiral nelson

Nelson's Column

Nelson's Column is a monument in Trafalgar Square, London, England.

Origins and design

The column was built between 1840 and 1843 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The 5.5 m (18 ft) statue of Nelson stands on top of a 46 m (151 ft) granite column. The statue faces south, towards the Palace of Westminster with the Mall on his right flank where Nelson's ships are represented on the top of each flagpole. The top of the Corinthian column (based on one from the Temple of Mars Ultor in Rome) is decorated with bronze acanthus leaves cast from British cannon. The square pedestal is decorated with four bronze panels, cast from captured French guns, depicting Nelson's four great victories.

The monument was designed by architect William Railton in 1838, and built by the firm Peto & Grissell. Railton's original 1:22-scale stone model is exhibited at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. The sandstone statue at the top was sculpted by E.H. Baily, a member of the Royal Academy; a small bronze plaque crediting him is at the base of the statue. The four bronze panels around the pedestal were undertaken by the sculptors Musgrave Watson, John Ternouth, William F Woodington, and John Edward Carew. The entire monument was built at a cost of 47,500 pounds, or 3.5 million pounds in 2004 terms (roughly $6.1 million US). The four lions, by Sir Edwin Landseer, at the column's base were added in 1867.

20th century

In 1925 a Scottish confidence trickster, Arthur Furguson, "sold" the famous landmark to an unknowing American tourist for £6,000 claiming it was for sale to pay off Britain's war loan to the United States. (He also sold Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.)

The Column's symbolic importance is reflected in Hitler's plans for it. If Operation Sealion, Hitler's plan to invade Britain, had worked, he intended to move the Column to Berlin.


The tower has been climbed on several occasions as a publicity stunt to draw attention to a social or political cause. Ed Drummond made the first such climb in 1979 for the Anti-Apartheid Movement, making use of the lightning conductor on route. On 13 April 1995 Johnny Dawes free-climbed Nelson's Column with Noel Craine, Jerry Moffat and Simon Nadin, and graded the climb as "E6 6b/5a". The protest this time was on behalf of Survival International to publicise the plight of Canada's Inuit people. In May 2003 BASE jumper and stuntman Gary Connery parachuted from the top of the column to draw attention to the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

John Noakes of the BBC TV children's programme Blue Peter climbed the column in the late 1970s.


The column was refurbished in 2006, during which time it was scaffolded from top to bottom for access. Steam cleaning was used together with gentle abrasives to minimise any harmful impact on the brass and stonework. The work was performed by David Ball Restoration Ltd. of Peckham, South London. The £420,000 cost was met by Zurich Financial Services, which advertised on the scaffolding for the duration of the work. Before restoration began, laser surveys were taken during which it was found that the column was significantly shorter than the usually quoted 56 m (185 ft). In fact, it is only 50 m (169  5 in) from the bottom of the first step on the pedestal to the tip of the admiral's hat.

Other monuments to Nelson

Nelson's four victories



External links

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