A free talk on the Trafalgar Way is taking place at Sidmouth Rugby Club on Friday, February 3 at 7pm.

Professional speaker Kathy Brown from the 1805 Club will tell the story of the historic journey from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London made by Lt John Lapenotiere in November 1805. He was bringing the official news of Britain’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar, but with the death in action of Lord Nelson.

After sailing into Falmouth on HMS Pickle, he embarked on the 271-mile journey, which took him across East Devon. He changed horses at Honiton in the early hours of November 5.

From there, his news would have spread to Sidmouth, where people were already preparing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Gunpowder Treason Plot. There would have been mixed emotions: the relief of being safe from French invasion, and the grief at the loss of Nelson, who was the most popular man in England after the King.

There would also have been concern among the families of the local men who had been serving on ships in the British fleet. Those whose names and ships are known include:

Sidmouth: James Blake (Minotaur), John Litton (Phoebe)
SidburyWilliam Brand (Prince), William Daniel (Achilles), John Joice (Neptune), Samuel Pester (Orion) 
Otterton: John Poole (Orion)
Ottery: William Baker (Conqueror), John Bastin (Thunderer), Robert Bastin (Belleisle), Samuel Bostin (Thunderer), William Matthews (Neptune), Thomas Perman (Orion), Thomas Salter (Orion), William Taylor (Prince) 
Colyton: Joseph Bussell (Orion), John Carslake/Caulake (Victory), Thomas Clarke (Ajax), Abraham Farrant (Spartiate), Henry Lymes (Ajax), James Parry (Ajax)
Beer: Cornelius Looney (Ajax), William Smith (Tonnant), Dennis Sullivan (Mars)

The talk is being organised by the Sidmouth Royal Naval Old Colleagues Association (RNOCA) and although it is free, they will pass around a hat for donations. Kathy will also be hoping to generate some new memberships for her association, and perhaps sell a few books.

The bar will be open at 6.30, and Kathy’s talk will begin at around 7.00.