Online talks and panels organised by the Churchill Archives Centre to commemorate and debate the life and legacy of Admiral Lord ‘Jacky’ Fisher (1841-1920). The event is being held to mark the centenary of Fisher’s death and to celebrate the transfer of new material to the Churchill Archives Centre. Fisher became First Sea Lord for the first time on 20 October 1904.

Fisher was one of the most famous men of his age; an innovator who drove the transformation of the Royal Navy prior to the First World War, introducing the new big gun battleships while reforming gunnery, training and conditions. Born in Ceylon, he was sent away to live with his maternal grandfather in London and worked his way up through the ranks to become First Sea Lord. He was a colourful character with firm opinions, capable of inspiring loyalty and enmity in equal measure. Having retired in 1910, he was brought back as First Sea Lord for a second term by Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, in October 1914. Yet within the space of six months, the relationship between the two men had broken down over the failure of the Dardanelles operation, ultimately costing them both their jobs. Perhaps because he died so soon after the war, perhaps because popular history has focused on the Western Front, or maybe because he did not command a fleet in battle, Fisher is now either forgotten or seen only as a footnote in biographies of Winston Churchill. This symposium will put the focus firmly back on the life and legacy of this ‘veritable volcano’.

Speakers include:

Professor Andrew Lambert, Dr John Brooks, Professor Matthew Seligmann, Captain Peter Hore, Professor Barry Gough, Penelope Fisher (filmmaker and Fisher’s great great granddaughter) and Rear Admiral Chris Parry.


15:00 Welcome by Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre

15:05 Introduction by Professor Barry Gough (Professor Emeritus, Wilfrid Laurier University) on the significance of Fisher’s Life and Legacy

15:20 Panel 1: The career of Admiral Lord Fisher

Chair: Professor Andrew Lambert (Laughton Professor of Naval History, King’s College, London)

Panellists: Dr John Brooks (Naval Historian), Captain Peter Hore (Naval Historian), Professor Matthew Seligmann (Brunel University)

16:00 Presentation by Great Grandson Lord Fisher and his daughter Penelope from Kilverstone Hall

Penelope Fisher is producer of “Sea Lord”, Trident Films

16:15 Panel 2: The Legacy of Admiral Lord Fisher

Chair: Allen Packwood

Panellists: Penelope Fisher (Producer of “Sea Lord”), Rear Admiral Dr Chris Parry (strategic forecaster, broadcaster and author, former Visiting Fellow of Churchill College), Dr Laura Rowe (Exeter University), Tom Williams (Scriptwriter “Sea Lord”­)

16:55 Final words from Admiral Sir Jock Slater (former First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff)