The statue of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson in Barbados was erected in Bridgetown on March 22nd 1813 and sculpted from bronze by Sir Richard Westmacott. It is considered an excellent likeness of the British Admiral.
The Barbados statue of Nelson pre-dates the Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London by nearly 30 years.
Very soon after his victory and subsequent death at Cape Trafalgar in 1805, plans were made in Barbados to honour Horatio Nelson’s memory.
His popularity came because Bajans were very grateful and relieved not to become a French West Indian colony, which would have been the alternative if Admiral Horatio Nelson had not gained victory for the British off Cape Trafalgar on the southern coast of Spain. This battle was the most decisive naval victory of the wars, ensuring British naval supremacy during the rest of the Napoleon Wars. It was also important for trade routes from Britain to Barbados.
The Battle of Trafalgar was fought on 21st October 1805, and was considered the most famous naval battle in history, and was where the Royal Navy led by Admiral Nelson devastated Napoleon’s combined Spanish and French fleet.
To show appreciation, a memorial service was held on January 5th 1806 at the St Michael’s Parish Church (now St Michael’s Cathedral), and within days Bajans were raising funds for a memorial statue. They then purchased the statue and land, naming it Trafalgar Square, paying tribute to the Admiral by erecting the statue.
For many years after, wreaths were laid at the statue on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (October 21st).
For some time now the Nelson Statue has been at the centre of controversy for its removal, because it was said that Nelson did not like Barbados.
Trafalgar Square in Bridgetown was renamed National Heroes Square in April 1999. The only changes to date have been the ceasing of the traditional wreath laying on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the change of direction in which Nelson now faces.
Bajans proudly believed they were the first to put up such a monument to commemorate Nelson; however; they were in fact the fourth, after Dublin (1809), Montreal (1809) and Birmingham – Bull Ring (1809) which was also sculpted by Sir Richard Westmacott.
The building of Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square, began on 30 September 1840 and completed in 1843. The 56m (171 feet) high column is made from granite and features acanthus leaves, cast from British cannons at the top. At the very top stands a 5.5m (18 feet) statue of Nelson
The erection of this monument to Britain’s greatest Naval commander was the source of much delay and politicking. Originally conceived as a bronze statue the publicly subscribed fund could not afford this and so it was made of solid granite quarried from the estate of then Duke of Buccleuch, in Scotland.
The designer of this monument was a Mr William Railton and the sculptor a Mr E H Bailey. The four bronze lions on the base were added in 1867 and were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer.
The pedestal is decorated with four bronze relief panels, each 18 feet (5.5 m) square, cast from captured French guns. They depict the Battle of Cape St Vincent, the Battle of the Nile, the Battle of Copenhagen and the Death of Nelson at Trafalgar. The sculptors were Musgrave Watson, William F Woodington, John Ternouth and John Edward Carew respectively.