Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Nelson's Victory burnt to ground


August 27, 2005

A replica of Nelson's HMS Victory has been set alight in front of thousands of spectators to mark the Battle of Trafalgar's 200th anniversary.

The Torrington Cavaliers fund-raising group, of Devon, hoped to raise £57,000 - the cost of the original Victory - with the event in the town.

The group spent two years building the 100ft-long half-size mock-up.

Hattie Hill, 11, and her sister Katie, nine, of Welcombe, lit the fire after their godfather won an online auction.

Nick Hill, 45, who lives in Hong Kong, passed the honour to the girls after bidding £325 on eBay.

"I was taken aback when I won it. I wasn't really expecting it. I thought it was wonderful," he said.

Katie (L) and Hattie Hill before
lighting the fuse to torch the ship.

The three-deck Torrington Victory had three 100ft (30.5m) masts, 13 miles (21km) of rigging, 48 gun ports, anchor, cabins, lifeboats and furled sails.

The event on Saturday also included a narration of the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar and a 24-gun volley.

Hattie said: "We didn't know what to expect but a few days ago I realised it was a really big thing so we are even more pleased to be here now.

"It's a beautiful boat and it was a shame to burn it but we just lost a friend to cancer so it's a really good cause and it's important to us."

Funds raised will go to cancer charities and local good causes.

The great-great-great grandfather of Torrington Cavaliers' project manager Dick Matthews, 62, had been a cabin boy on Nelson's flagship.

Since being founded 35 years ago, the group has become known for building and firing some of the country's most spectacular bonfires.


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