CANNONS that have not been used since the Battle of Trafalgar were fired yesterday to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of one of Britain’s greatest naval heroes.

Admiral Lord Collingwood took command of the British fleet during the Battle of Trafalgar after the death of Horatio Nelson.

Collingwood, who was born in Newcastle and whose family home in Morpeth is still in use, died on board the ship Ville de Paris off Port Mahon, Menorca, on March 7, 1810.

His body lies alongside that of his close friend, Admiral Nelson, in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Among those present at events in Newcastle and Tynemouth yesterday was his closest living relative, Susan Collingwood- Cameron.

The 71-year-old, of Alnwick, Northumberland, said: “These celebrations mean a great deal to our family. We are so proud to have such a highly regarded ancestor.

“The celebrations are absolutely fantastic and its great to see so many people involved.”

In Newcastle, shoppers lined the streets to watch a naval parade involving more than 215 representatives from the Royal Navy and led by the Royal Marines Band.

Later, at the Tynemouth Collingwood Monument, the cannons from the Admiral’s Trafalgar flagship, Royal Sovereign, were “fired” – using pyrotechnics – to signal the start of a remembrance service. The cannons were last fired in battle on board Collingwood’s vessel Royal Sovereign as it led British ships in 1805.

There was also an exchange of gun salutes between HMS Cumberland and Army field guns on shore.

Captain Stephen Healy, chairman of the Collingwood 2010 Festival Committee, said: “It is not known when the Royal Sovereign’s cannons were last fired, but it’s certainly not in living memory.

“This was a unique opportunity to hear how they might have sounded at Trafalgar and also to experience at close hand the exchange of gun salutes with HMS Cumberland as it leaves the Tyne.