HRH The Duke of Edinburgh Opens The Norfolk Nelson Museum

By David Prudames | 19 July 2002
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the Duke of Edinburgh gets a little help cutting the ribbon. Photo courtesy of BBCi © BBC

Left: the Duke of Edinburgh gets a little help cutting the ribbon. Photo courtesy of BBCi © BBC

HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the Norfolk Nelson Museum on Thursday July 18.

The Museum in Great Yarmouth has been ten years in the making and celebrates the life and times of Norfolk's most famous son.

The Death of Nelson, Samuel Drummond. Many versions were produced to maximise profits while feelings about Nelson were strong. © Norfolk Nelson Museum

Right: The Death of Nelson, Samuel Drummond. Many versions were produced to maximise profits while feelings about Nelson were strong. © Norfolk Nelson Museum

Prince Philip was originally a patron of the Museum's fund-raising appeal and, as Curator Faith Carpenter explained, was more than happy to declare it open.

"We were doubtful whether or not he would be able to accept the offer to come along and open the Museum, but we were really glad he did," said Faith, "He was even running 15 minutes late by the time he left."

Prince Philip remarked that the Nelson-era wasn't so different from his own days in the Navy. Photo courtesy of BBCi © BBC

Left: Prince Philip remarked that the Nelson-era wasn't so different from his own days in the Navy. Photo courtesy of BBCi © BBC

The Museum was the life-long ambition of the late Ben Burgess MBE who, like Nelson himself, was a Norfolk man and former pupil of the Paston School. Ben built up a vast collection of Nelson memorabilia and formed a charitable trust with a view to establishing a permanent entity for educational use within Norfolk.

Unfortunately Ben did not live to see the opening, but with funds raised by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the South Denes Regeneration Scheme, English Heritage, the Great Yarmouth Port Authority and English Partnerships his personal collection and many more items are now on permanent display.

an image painted directly onto glass depicting a sailor and Britannia (signifying the British people) mourning Nelson. © Norfolk Nelson Museum

Right: an image painted directly onto glass depicting a sailor and Britannia (signifying the British people) mourning Nelson. © Norfolk Nelson Museum

Prince Philip cut the traditional ribbon, unveiled a dedicatory plaque and took a look around the new Museum.

"He was very interested and talked about his career in the navy saying it wasn't very different from Nelson's day," Faith explained.

the Golden Jubilee schedule was set back 15 minutes while Prince Philip toured the Museum. Photo courtesy of BBCi © BBC

Left: the Golden Jubilee schedule was set back 15 minutes while Prince Philip toured the Museum. Photo courtesy of BBCi © BBC

"He said it was nice to see the Museum up and running after a bumpy start and announced he would like to congratulate those who put their hands into their own pockets rather than other people's."

Around 500 people came along to see the opening, but perhaps the most poignant guests were members of the emergency services who responded to the helicopter crash off the Norfolk coast on Tuesday night.

a commemorative ceramic snuffbox with an image of Nelson. © Norfolk Nelson Museum

Right: a commemorative ceramic snuffbox with an image of Nelson. © Norfolk Nelson Museum

Prince Philip expressed his regret, remarking that he was both surprised and sad to hear the news of the crash in which five people perished and six have yet to be found.

He then wished all at the Museum the best of luck before departing to resume the Golden Jubilee tour of the nation.

Want to know more? Click here to read BBC Norfolk's story about the event.

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