Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Sunday, 7 March 2010

Trafalgar cannons fired to mark 200th anniversary

Portrait of Admiral Lord Collingwood
Collingwood first went to sea at the age of 13

Cannons which last saw action at the Battle of Trafalgar are fired on Tyneside to mark the 200th anniversary of Admiral Lord Collingwood's death.

The four huge guns are at the base of a statue of the Newcastle-born naval hero which stands in Tynemouth.

The cannons, which are no longer in working order, were fired on Sunday using pyrotechnics.

They were last used in battle on board Collingwood's vessel Royal Sovereign as it led British ships in 1805.

Capt Stephen Healy, chairman of the Collingwood 2010 festival committee, said the event promised to be "moving" and "spectacular".

He said: "It's not known when the Royal Sovereign's cannons were last fired, but it's certainly not in living memory."

The cannons weigh almost three tonnes each and originally fired 32lb (14.5kg) cannonballs. They were brought to Tyneside in July 1848 as an ornamental addition to the monument.

Collingwood cannons
Modern pyrotechnics will allow the cannons to be fired

The service was expected to be attended by 200 guests, including Collingwood's great-great-great niece Susan Collingwood-Cameron, who lives in Northumberland.

HMS Cumberland was visiting the Tyne as part of a special weekend of events.

These included a naval parade of over 150 serving military personnel and youth groups led by HM Band of the Royal Marines (Plymouth) through Newcastle and a service of commemoration in St Nicholas Cathedral.

Collingwood was born in 1748 and went to sea at the age of 13. At Trafalgar in 1805 he was Nelson's second-in-command and as Nelson lay mortally wounded it was Collingwood who directed the fleet to victory. He died at sea on 7 March 1810.

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