Trafalgar Plaques Unveiled at Kew Bridge

Commemorating route taken by Lt John Lapenotiere by post chaise

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One of the plaques that marks the Trafalgar Way

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Although the Battle of Trafalgar was fought more than 200 years ago, its legacy has now been extended through the unveiling of two more plaques at a special ceremony held at Kew Bridge this week.

Led by Admiral the Lord Boyce, GCB, OBE, DL, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle, formerly  First Sea Lord and Chief of the Defence Staff and introduced by Cllr Paul Lynch, Mayor of Hounslow the unveiling of the plaques on the wall of The Express Tavern was just one of a number of events that have been held to mark the Battle’s bicentenary over the past few years inparticular the establishment of The Trafalgar Way, which follows the old 271 mile coaching road from Falmouth to London. 

At the London end, the route passes through the Borough of Hounslow before proceeding through Hammersmith and Kensington to Hyde Park Corner, and finally to the Admiralty . This was the route taken by Lt John Lapenotiere by post chaise between November 4th and 6th 1805 after an eight day voyage from Cape Trafalgar in HM Schooner Pickle.

He was delivering to the Admiralty in Whitehall the First Trafalgar Dispatch containing the news of the British fleet’s victory in the battle and the death of Lord Nelson.

One of the Kew Bridge plaques marks the passing of the post chaise at Kew Bridge shortly after midnight early on November 6th 1805 during this historic journey: the other lists the 18 men from Chiswick and Brentford who served in the British fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar and the ships in which they served.

The ceremony was organised by Bill White, a resident of Chiswick, who is a Trustee of the Trafalgar Way Trust.  Mr White was Chairman of The New Trafalgar Dispatch, the organising body that in 2005 staged a symbolic recreation of the journey from Cape Trafalgar via Falmouth to London by post chaise, with actor Alex Price playing Lapenotiere.  He was accompanied throughout the journey by a serving Lieutenant of the Royal Navy.

In 2005, 23 plaques were set up along the route to mark the start and the finish at Falmouth Quay and the Admiralty and the 21 towns and villages where Lt Lapenotiere changed horses. The New Trafalgar Dispatch organisation was wound up after 2005, and a new charity, the Trafalgar Way Trust was established, its purpose being to maintain the plaques put up in 2005, to encourage the setting up of further plaques in communities between the original 23 plaques and to promote educational objectives relating to Trafalgar and the Trafalgar Way.

Mr White, who is a former naval officer, naval historian and researcher, explained: “Somewhat over a year ago, I gave an illustrated lecture to the Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society about the 1805 events and how we commemorated them in 2005.  The Society quickly contributed £71 towards a plaque for Brentford and Chiswick, but asked specifically for it to be erected somewhere near Kew Bridge at the border between the two old London Boroughs of those names which are now embodied in the Greater London Borough of Hounslow.

“At the same time, we also found records of the 18 men from the two old boroughs who served at Trafalgar and decided that they too should be honoured through their own plaque.”

Mr White, who is also Vice Chairman of The 1805 Club, added: “We are delighted that Cllr Paul Lynch, the Mayor of Hounslow, who has been a long time supporter of this project and had a major involvement in the Hounslow commemorations of Trafalgar in 2005, will be here to host the event and represent the Borough, and that Admiral Lord Boyce has agreed to unveil the plaques.

“The Trafalgar Way Trust is also grateful for all the assistance we have received from The Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society, The Sea Cadets and Hanworth Royal Naval Association whose support has helped to ensured that we can record this significant event of 1805 for posterity.”

September 4, 2009