Birmingham has fired the first salvo in its Battle of Trafalgar anniversary celebrations at a ceremony commemorating Admiral Lord Nelson's visit to the city.
Civic leaders and heritage campaigners joined scores of spectators and one of Nelson's descendants at the unveiling of a commemorative plaque marking the naval hero's visit in 1802.
Three years before his death at Trafalgar, Nelson visited one of Birmingham's great industrialists Matthew Boulton and was received with great affection by the people of the city.
He commissioned the medal for the Battle of the Nile at Boulton's Soho factory.
Following Nelson's death, the medal for the Battle of Trafalgar was also produced in the city.
The naval hero spent the nights of August 30 and 31 at a hotel on Temple Street, on the site where House of Fraser stands today.
The plaque, which was commissioned by Birmingham Civic Society, was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Coun John Hood (Con Sutton Vesey) and Anna Tribe, the great- great- great granddaughter of Lord Nelson.
Stephen Hartland, from the Birmingham Civic Society, said much planning had gone into the plaque unveiling and other events organised by the heritage group to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in October.
He said: "A lot of hard work has gone into the unveiling and other Trafalgar events in October by a large number of city organisations that are keen to see that Lord Nelson is honoured.
"Birmingham has a lot of connections with Nelson, not only in terms of providing men for every one of the ships at the Battle of Trafalgar, but also providing the medals for the battles.
"I think it is the case with all of these celebrations of individuals that there are always many people who helped that person achieve the glory - this includes many people from Birmingham. They are also being commemorated with this plaque.
"However, it is not just about our little parish city, as it was then. This is about Birmingham being part of marking Lord Nelson's achievements on a national and international scale."
A Lord Nelson look-a-like, accompanied by his Lady Hamilton, added some
nostalgic sparkle to the wellattended event.
The pair were welcomed by a fanfare of music from the TS Sutton Coldfield sea cadets and a guard of honour from the Royal Marines Society 1797-1805, decked out in period uniforms.
Coun John Alden (Con Harborne), cabinet member for leisure, culture and sport, said: "Birmingham is participating in a national programme of commemorations to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar in October."
The Birmingham Civic Society, which received financial aid from the Royal Bank of Scotland for the plaque, will also host a talk dealing with Nelson's visit to Birmingham on September 7.
On Trafalgar Day, Friday October 21, there will be a series of events in Victoria Square. The days events also include a free lunchtime concert at St Martin's Church called The Hero of Trafalgar.
The Trafalgar Festival will continue at Victoria Square the following day, when a Nelson Mass will be sung at St Philip's Cathedral by Birmingham Choral Union.