Replica ship being brought to Keadby

The replica ship HMS Pickle is owned by Burringham man Mal Nicholson, who is to bring the ship to Keadby. Here, guest captain Denis Dixon recalls a recent night on the vessel:“In 1805, HMS Pickle races back to England bearing the news from Trafalgar. The King is informed that we have won this battle but at a great loss . . . Nelson is dead”.

“In 1805, HMS Pickle races back to England bearing the news from Trafalgar. The King is informed that we have won this battle but at a great loss . . . Nelson is dead”.

A warm thank you, from all of us who live in Portugal, namely Vilamoura, who had an opportunity to celebrate Pickle night in November.

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Pickle night is well known to the Royal Navy by the warrant officers who celebrate this little ship’s incredible speedy nine-day journey back to Britain along with the victory of Trafalgar, which is also celebrated as Trafalgar night by commissioned officers.

We all arrived at Vilamoura Marina as the sun was setting over the marina. The slight westerly wind gently blew on my face when I looked upon Pickle, this magical little ship.

She certainly wasn’t like HMS Victory, a man-of-war with 100 guns. This little vessel – a 22 metre long, two-masted Schooner with her 10 guns just sat there on her berth. It wasn’t until we all gathered on board that we found ourselves stepping back into time.

We all soon became aware that Pickle was indeed a speedy little ship built for fast passages. Mal Nicholson, the current owner, showed us with pride around this magnificent ship.

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As night fell we all settled down to a selection of wonderful food, which was kindly donated by a local Chinese restaurant and Sharon Smith, a very good local chef. A few of the guests brought along some mouth-watering desserts.

Malcolm was most generous not only with his time but also with vast volumes of local wines. We all sat down upon the solid wooden tables which were well lit by a selection of oil-burning lamps, surrounded by the wooden blocks, shackles, sheets and rope rigging. It was so easy for time to pass by as we chatted away throughout the night.

I was taken aback just a little when it occurred to me that this little vessel had brought so many different nationalities together on this special night. I had spoken to French, Welsh, Chinese, Portuguese and Canadians as well as English people.

I felt it appropriate that, towards the end of a wonderful night, we all toasted Pickle and remembered all those who died that day – from Admiral Lord Nelson to all the sailors, whatever their nationalities.

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All guests were given a copy of the Ballad of the Pickle and some recited it.

There was a great feeling on board as we paid homage to this, one of the greatest sea stories ever told.’

The ballad begins: “Make haste, little Pickle, the Admiral said, go and tell England that Nelson is dead”.

Its final verse ends with: “So countrymen all, whether landsman or tar,

Three cheers for the Pickle, the smallest by far.

When Nelson looks down from his heavenly portal,

As we offer the toast to the ‘Memory Immortal’,

‘Remember the Pickle,’ he’d certainly say,

For she also served – on that fateful day”.

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