Plans to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo this year are taking shape. Wellington Carnival Chairman Dave Rylatt is joining members of the local community in organising a series of events (to be named ‘BOW 200’) to mark one of the country’s most famous military victories. The National Trust which now owns the Wellington Monument is involved and it is hoped the monument itself will be part of the celebrations.
The local Historical and Museum Societies will be responsible for lectures focusing on the Duke of Wellington and the link between him, the town and ‘an American connection’ and a ‘talks and walks’ event is planned in June in collaboration with the National Trust.
On the anniversary itself – 18 June – several events are currently being discussed, including a parade through the town by members of Wellington School’s Corps of Drums and field gun races between members of the school’s CCF. A showing of the remarkable 1970’s film about the battle starring Rod Steiger as Napoleon Bonaparte and Christopher Plummer as Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) alongside more than 15,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry is also being considered.
It is hoped that the Carnival in September will feature Battle of Waterloo entries. The Wellington in Bloom committee and organisers of the Wellington Boot-Throwing Championships are working on a wellyboot-decorating and planting competition with entries displayed around the town. Art, photography and essay competitions for schools and adults are planned.
The Battle of Waterloo between Napoleon’s French forces and British and Prussian armies under the command of Arthur Wellesley and Gebhard von Blucher took place near Waterloo in Belgium, at that time the ‘United Kingdom of the Netherlands’. Losing the battle meant the end of Napoleon’s rule as Emperor of the French and more than 23 years of wars in Europe. As a result of his victory, Arthur Wellesley was ennobled. He was abroad at the time, so it fell to his brother to choose a name for his dukedom. He chose ‘Wellington’ as it was close to the family name. The Duke later bought land – including the site of the monument – with money granted to him by Parliament and built properties around the town. The construction of Wellington Monument began in 1817 and was completed in 1854.
Report: Gill Paltridge