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The History of Nelson's Monument

As soon as the tragic news of Lord Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar reached Norfolk plans for the County to create a memorial to it's most famous son were discussed.


In November 1805 a public subscription was announced to raise funds for a monument to the Immortal Hero and a committee was set up to arrange the commissioning of an appropriate memorial.


In March of 1806 £800 had already been collected for a monument in Norwich but this scheme disappeared and no action was taken. A new subscription was opened in August 1814 and in January 1815 the committee decided that Great Yarmouth's coastal location would be most suitable and that the memorial should take the form of a column so it could act as a seamark.


The estimated cost for the Monument was £7,500, this shot up after a survey of the site given by the Yarmouth Corporation, the South Denes, showed that the sandy soil would necessitate an extra £2,000 spent on foundations.


The Nelson Monument has become a fixture on the landscape of Great Yarmouth, artists of the Norwich School have depicted it over and again as the backdrop to the life of the town. When it was first built it stood in the centre of the Race Track built for the East Norfolk Militia to exercise their horses.


The South Denes was the summer camp for the East Norfolk Militia, the Royal Naval Hospital and Barracks lay further up towards the town and at the time the Monument was built there was a Naval Fort on the tip of the peninsula and one of the town's three Naval Batteries, the South Star Battery was close by.

Historic photograph of Nelsons Monument
The South Denes was therefore the site of military and naval strongholds, a fitting setting for a Monument to a man who lived to fulfil his duty to Britain.


Britain's first Royal Air Force base was also built in the South Denes during the First World War and became a site from which defensive raids were carried out on the Zeppelins threatening Britain's safety Nelson would have approved.


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