authors and editors of this magazine were horrified at the news,
reported in the Daily Mail in April 2000, that the British
educational curriculum planners intended to abandon all mention of the
lives of Horatio Nelson and other major figures in the shaping of
world events, in future history courses, in favour of descriptions of
obscure tribal chiefs of countries other than our own.
It seems that the self-important civil service grandees whose lot it is
to decide what our children should know have decided that it is
politically correct so to do. Now we know our country of origin is in the hands of
lunatics, whereas before we only suspected that might be the case.
Including African tribal chiefs in the school curriculum is a great
idea. We are all for it. History should be taught in terms of world
history, rather than
jingoistic national history, to give our youngsters the wider picture
and prepare them for the diversity of the world.
Surely that does not
mean we should exclude national history from their education?!
Horatio Nelson's sea-battle tactics rank
highly in the opinions of naval historians across the world.
British seamanship has always been held in esteem by the wider sailing
community, in part because it is built on a platform of great historical
figures, such as Horatio Nelson, admired the world over.
We humans are, by nature, creatures inclined to view our own interests
as paramount and all others as being of less importance. Evidently our
educationalists, having been romanced by the modern 'ethnic' cultural
fashions so much in evidence in Britain these days, have decided that
all that went before is irrelevant.
If history is to be subject to
fashion, why not abolish the subject altogether? Why not just slash the
whole topic from the curriculum and have Ethnicity as a subject instead? History is not supposed to be subject to
alterations. We cannot un-happen the past. To mention more of the known facts about a subject is to enhance knowledge
but to suppress one set of facts in favour of another is to warp
It is a fact, for instance, that in May 1794, at the Siege of
in Corsica, an enemy shot struck the battery near which Lord Nelson was
standing, driving sand and gravel into his chest and face and blinding
him in his right eye.
This may be of no interest to modern 'historians' but it seems , to us,
a poor show when a chap is maimed in the service of his nation and,
within a mere couple of centuries, it is deemed irrelevant in comparison
to the daily life of the chief of a village, somewhere in another
country, whose activities bore no influence whatsoever on either Britain
or the world.
In the second week of June 2000, we were lying at anchor, preparing for our
voyage back to Europe, in English Harbour, Antigua, in the West Indies,
overlooking the wonderful architecture which housed Nelson when he was
stationed here, maintained faithfully by the Parks Department for
tourists and historians from every part of the globe to see and enjoy.
The beauty and sense of antiquity all around us was breathtaking.
If his own country no longer considers Horatio Nelson worthy of
inclusion in its history, why on earth should Antigua continue to feel
any obligation, or desire, to invest in the upkeep and restoration of
their part of it, at no little expense to the taxpayers of the country?
Whilst the Royal Naval Tot Club of Antigua & Barbuda are very
active, with the help of a few volunteers, in clearing paths to allow
visitors to reach sites of interest, they are not able to offer
restoration or preventative maintenance.
The Parks Department does what it can with the funds available but, in a
great number of cases, buildings gradually succumb to a lack of funding,
Nelson's Dockyard being a notable exception, a triumph of dedicated and
Perhaps those of us who have an interest in the preservation of all
things connected with Horatio Nelson should try and organise some
funding to help Antigua maintain and restore the buildings that are not
totally beyond salvation?
would love to be able to offer help from our readers with the
restoration of the beautiful arched Officers Accommodations at Shirley
Heights which finally collapsed after hurricane Lenny because the
structure had weakened over time and there were insufficient funds to
meet the cost of maintenance, let alone restoration.
It was a shock to see the front and one side of what was once a
roofless but otherwise fabulous ruin reduced to so much rubble and
fenced to prevent injury to sightseers.
If you feel able to help in any way, either by contributing funds
personally or organising fund-raising activities of some sort,
perhaps sponsorship of a project, do get in touch with the authorities
of Antigua or with us by e-mail to MarineZine_editor@linnetwoods.com
. We will be very happy to liaise with the relevant organisations on the
island on your behalf. Perhaps we could help by offering a trip to Antigua aboard Leopard Normand
III as a prize in a raffle, or something like that? We don't have any
funds to fall back on but we will be glad to do what is within our
capacity. Before we cut our painters*, we'd like to feel we had done our
bit for history...
You may like to see what the Royal
Naval Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda are all about too,
maintaining one of the more commendable of the traditions in which
Nelson himself participated...
If you are interested in biographies and other books relating to the
life of this extraordinary man and other naval heroes, you may like to
take a look at the History
and Biographies section of The Library Bookshelves...
We'd love to hear from you, whether you want to share your
interest in history, pose a question, tell us about a good website
pertaining to the topic or whatever - drop us a line!
*To cut one's painter: an old sailor's expression for death - the
painter is the rope that keeps the tender (small boat for getting ashore
in) tied to the ship. If it gets cut, the tender drifts away...