In the 16th century, English merchants set foot on the land of Russia's Pomorye for the first time
The year of 1553 is a remarkable date in the history of diplomatic relations between England and Russia; this is the historic beginning of official relations between the countries. After working up the archives, PRAVDA.Ru correspondent in Pomorye reports that in 1553, before the British Empire, the Russian Federation and Arkhangelsk appeared, the English marine expedition commanded by Admiral of the Fleet Sir Hugh Willoughby opened the route through northern seas to the mouth of the Severnaya Dvina River.
The commercial expedition was sent by the Company of Merchant Adventurers to find a North-East passage through the Arctic Seas to China and India. Out of the three ships of the expedition only one under the command of skilled navigator Richard Chancellor managed to survive. On August 24, 1553 Chancellor landed at the Nikolsky mouth of the Severnaya Dvina River. As is seen from the materials that PRAVDA.Ru got from the Arkhangelsk administration committee for international relations and tourism development, there is a story told by a chronicler about the arrival of British King Edward's ambassador Richard with merchants to Kholmogory. Then Richard Chancellor successfully got to Moscow. The Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible organized a ceremonial receiving of the English navigator; he gave him a charter for the free trade right; after that Richard Chancellor got back to England.
On February 26, 1555 a Moscow (Russian) company was set up in London; it sent Richard Chancellor its representative to a new expedition in the White Sea. On July 20, 1556, Richard Chancellor together with the first Russian ambassador to England Osip Nepeya from the Russian city of Vologda set off for England from the St.Nicolas port (now the northern city of Severodvinsk is situated there). The Russian embassy was accompanied with ten merchants from Kholmogory. Close to the Scottish shores, the vessel was rubbed into heavy weather. Richard Chancellor and his son died while saving the Russian delegation in the storm. Russian Ambassador Osip Nepeya was saved and later got to England. In March of 1557, very important negotiations were conducted; later in April a declaration on friendly relations between England and Russia was concluded. According to the declaration, English merchants got the right for free trade in Russia and the Russian ones got the right for free trade in England. In May 1557, Osip Nepeya got back to Moscow to report results of his trip to England. The Moscow company existed for over 300 years until the end of the 19th century; until 1819 the agents of the company also combined the jobs of English consuls in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk.
In 1991, one of the streets in the city of Severodvinsk was called in memory of Richard Chancellor; a memorable stone in memory of the brave navigator was laid on the island of Yagry in 1998. In the 20th century, both countries closely cooperated during WWII when the Soviet Union made up the victorious anti-Hitler coalition together with Great Britain and the USA. In the framework of the allied relations, convoys of English and American vessels delivered military technique, equipment and foodstuffs to the Russian ports of Arkhangelsk and Molotovsk.
In 1991, the 50th anniversary of arrival of the first allied convoy to the Russian ports became a new milestone in the relations of Russia's Pomorye with Great Britain. Before 1991 the city of Severodvinsk was closed for foreigners; but in 1991 British WWII veterans were allowed to the city for the first time. Later visits of veterans became regular. In 2002, Great Britain's Consul General in St.Petersburg Barbara Hay was at head of the veterans' delegation. The city of Severodvinsk is establishing economic relations with the planet’s oldest industrial power. The Sevmash military shipyard ordered design documents for construction of a sleetproof platform at British companies. After the recent visit of Russia President Vladimir Putin to London, England is going to appropriate $16 million to Sevmash for utilization of two nuclear submarines. So, the 450 years of cooperation between the two countries prove to be rather effective!
Photo: memorable stone to Richard Chancellor on the island of Yagry