To comemorate the centenary of the death of Lord Nelson on 21st October, 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar, a number of these small busts were produced which contained oak and copper from H.M.S. Victory.
In 1793 the war began with Napoleonic France. Nelson was then given command of 'Agamemnon', a sixty gunner and appointed to Lord Hood's fleet. There followed an exceptionally active career with several distinctions, until in May 1803, Nelson, now a vice admiral of the Blue was appointed to the command of the Mediterranean Fleet with his flag in H.M.S. Victory. On 21st October 1805 the last great action of the days of sail was fought out in the historic waters off Cape Trafalgar. 27 British ships faced 33 French and Spanish. Nelson won an annihilating victory, the battle beginning with the hoisting of the most famous signal in British naval history: "England expects every man to do his duty." In his hour of triumph Nelson fell to a bullet fired by a marksman in the fighting top of the French ship 'Redoutable'.
The top inscrition read: NELSON. This bust contains Victory copper, for the Nelson Centenary Oct 21.1905. Presented by British & Foreign Sailors Society. E.R. VII.
The lower inscription reads: "England expects that every man will do his duty". Nelson Centenary memento. Oak & Copper from H.M.S. Victory. Given by the Lord Of The Admiralty to British & Foreign Sailors Society. Patron Vice Admiral H.R.H. Prince of Wales K.G. and presented by the Society to the Borough of West Ham, through its Mayor Alexander Bothwell Esq. J.P. in recognition of the valued services to the Society through its West Ham Ladies Guild October 21st 1905.
Part of Newham Heritage & Archives collection