In 1974 the President of the Senior Rates’ Mess at HMS Nelson asked HMS Nelson’s Commodore for permission to celebrate Trafalgar Night in the same way as the Wardroom did.
Vice Admiral Sir John Lea was Commodore of the Royal Naval Barracks from 1972-75. In 1974 he was able to persuade the Admiralty to allow Victory Barracks to become HMS Nelson, this had unusual problems, because personal approval had to be sought from the Queen, as her great grandfather Edward VII had decreed that the new Barracks at Portsmouth was to be known as Victory Barracks.
The name change took place on 1 June 1974, on the anniversary of the Battle of the Nile.
The president of the Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers Mess, Mr Hetherington, approached the Commodore for advice and approval for them to celebrate Trafalgar Night in 1974 in the same way as the Wardroom.
Commodore Lea thought that this was a great idea, but thought that it might prove very difficult to get a sufficiently high-profile officer to guest and to propose the Immortal Memory toast due to so many Trafalgar Night Dinners going on in Wardrooms throughout the Navy on that very night.
For this reason, he suggested they celebrate the arrival of the news of the battle via HMS Pickle two weeks later; this meant that the speakers who were most in demand, were more likely to be available to them, as these had done their Trafalgar Nights a fortnight earlier and would now have space in their diaries; it also meant that they had a fortnight during which they could recover from their own Trafalgar Night before doing it all again.
Thus began the tradition of Pickle Night.