Monday Minstrel: Bollards! The Spoils of Victory!

I belong to a Facebook Group “Memories of London” and recently saw a post about the final resting place of the canons from the defeated army of Napoleon ! Here is a quote from the post.

“After the defeat of the French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the British started to strip the French boats and reuse anything of value. When it came to the cannons however, it was found that they were too large to be retrofitted onto British ships. Determined to find a way to flaunt their victory over the French, the British decided instead to use them as street bollards throughout the East End of London. This idea proved so popular that after the original cannons had all been used, replicas were made and these started to adorn more and more London streets. They continue to be made today, with their distinctive shape being an iconic feature of London’s streets. Although most of the original cannon-bollards have been replaced over the years, a few still remain..”

Sean Bryne

There is an original cannon on the South Bank near the Globe theatre. But here are a few photos of some replicas.

It is possible that some of these are the originals and have been painted and added on to. The British were happy to demote the cannon to bollards. The spoils of victory!

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma Cownie says:

    I had no idea that’s why those bollards were shaped that way! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Even back in the day they recycled, awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is fascinating! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a smart idea! Although I can’t be the only person, who’d wonder, if you could somehow figure out how to remove that topper, and fire one of them straight up, just for fun!
    I read somewhere, that more of Napoleon’s cannons were melted down, and re-cast for the lamps on the London Bridge. (The one that didn’t fall down, but was taken down, and moved to Arizona) Napoleon started out his military career as an artillerist, so he really liked cannons – -he had 252 at Waterloo alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      252 at Waterloo! That is amazing. I have read accounts, well Tolstoy’s War and Peace, about the battle outside Moscow where the ground was soaked red with blood over acres. Those battles were pretty chaotic at least according to Tolstoy and I think he was probably right.

      Like

      1. Different history books list wildly different estimates of the casualties during the Napoleonic wars, but at least a million French died, and I don’t know how many people from other countries. The army that fought all those bloody battles on its way to Moscow, lost even more men to a typhus epidemic, it was amazing how few made it back to France.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. anne leueen says:

          There is a famous painting of Napoleon on his white horse retreating from defeat in Russia. It is a cold a grim scene. The horses and riders look cold and the poor foot soldiers look even worse.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It always looked & sounded pretty nightmarish, starving, freezing, and wolves and Cossacks ready to pounce on the stragglers.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. de Wets Wild says:

    Reduce, reuse, recycle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      YES! And they serve a good purpose: keeping cars off the sidewalks! Thanks for your comment .

      Liked by 1 person

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