The French have La Route Napoleon, the Americans have Paul Revere’s Ride, and now the UK has The Trafalgar Way! This is the historic route between Cornwall and London, passing through Andover, Overton and Basingstoke, which was taken by the messenger delivering news of The Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson in 1805.
A short story competition has now been launched that is going to help put the Trafalgar Way on the map and into the national consciousness. Entrants aged from 7 to 21 in Hampshire are invited to write their own original story on the theme of “An Urgent Message”.
Kathy Brown, The Trafalgar Way’s Director says: “We are launching a story competition because we too have such a great story to tell. It is the tale of the messenger who sailed directly from Cape Trafalgar off the south west coast of Spain to Falmouth. He then made the dash to London by post-chaise (coach and horses) to deliver this urgent dispatch. This journey usually took three weeks, but he did it in 38 hours. And it was a thrilling race – he beat a second messenger by a whisker!”
BBC historian and TV presenter Dan Snow, who is one of the competition judges, is a fan of The Trafalgar Way, because, as he says: “This news dramatically altered the balance of power in the world.” He is also interested in the way it brings local history to life along the route, because, as he explains: “The Tale of the Trafalgar Dispatch being rushed from Falmouth to London is like a bolt of lightning revealing a lost world of people and places.”
Adam Preston, a writer and Nelson descendant, who has been commissioned to write a short story about The Trafalgar Way, adds: “This is all about becoming a part of The Trafalgar Way story yourself – if you are a winner, you’re going to be presented with your prize on HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship.”
Other prizes include cash, publication of the winning story and, for school entries, a visit to the winner’s school by a fully functioning replica post-chaise like that used by the messenger, complete with a pair of horses and postillion. Kathy Brown points out: “This is something that young people are unlikely to ever forget!”
The competition, which is open to three age categories, is open to those who live in the counties and districts along The Trafalgar Way. The older age category is also open to Sea Cadets, Royal Naval personnel and Royal Marine Reserves resident anywhere in the UK. Details of how to enter and the prizes can be found on the Trafalgar Way website, www.thetrafalgarway.org/storycompetition2018