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Southampton and The Legacy of Titanic

The legacy of Titanic is one of the most well-known and documented stories in our lifetime. From countless factual documentaries to James Cameron’s fictionalised account of Titanic (1997), we are fairly familiar with the basic facts surrounding the ship and her ill-fated voyage.
Bearing this in mind, it is difficult not to shine a light on Titanic’s relationship with the different towns and cities she visited prior to her maiden voyage to New York.
More notably, the history of Titanic is synonymous with Southampton and rightly deserves our attention.
The British Passenger Ship liner was originally built in Belfast with her architecture inspired by Thomas Andrews. Owned by the White Star Line, the emergence of Titanic made her the largest ship in the world at the time.
On April 10, 1912, Titanic set sail from the White Star pier in Southampton to begin her maiden voyage to New York City. Along her transatlantic journey, Titanic picked up more passengers from Cherbourg (France) and Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland before embarking westward to New York.
In the early hours of April 15, Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank beneath the North Atlantic Ocean. This disaster brought with it a significant loss of life.
As the news broke, the people of Southampton were left devastated by this tragedy. This is due to the fact that the majority of the ship’s crew were natives of Southampton, as well as hundreds of families losing family members.
With the 15th of April, 2018, marking the 106 year anniversary of Titanic, it only seems appropriate to offer some insightful facts to commemorate Titanic and her strong affiliations with Southampton.

The Building of Titanic

Titanic was one of three ocean liners and in the spring of 1909, thousands of Irish and British shipbuilders commenced the building process of Titanic. This building work took place over a two year period in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland.
image of Titanic under construction
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

On May 31, 1911, over 100,000 spectators attended the launch of Titanic’s submergence into the River Lagan, in Belfast. At the time, this process of moving Titanic into the water made her the ”largest moveable man-made object”.

Titanic was now ready to be decorated with the highest form of sophistication and elegance and to be completed in time for her timely arrival to Southampton.

The Passengers Aboard

Titanic’s first stop was Southampton, where she would see the majority of her passengers’ boarding.
Carrying approximately 2, 240 passengers and crew, Titanic held some of the world’s affluent people coupled with hundreds of British, Irish, European and Scandinavian emigrants, who pursued the need of a better life in America.
With that, the ship was boarded according to class in the form of first, second and third class.
In terms of first-class passengers, many of these people held various positions of power and rankings. Notably, J. Bruce Ismay, who was the White Star Line’s managing director, was aboard the ship. Joining him was the architect of the ship, Thomas Andrews.
As for some of the more affluent passengers, a community of wealthy people was aboard Titanic including John Jacob Astor IV, Macy’s owner, Isidor Straus, and Margaret “Molly” Brown.
Molly Brown was a prominent figure in the story of Titanic, as she was one of the few first class passengers who endeavoured to help her fellow frightened passengers during the sinking of the ship.
Significantly though, third class passengers made up the majority of the groups of passengers aboard Titanic. In this era, third class passengers were treated as inferiors to their first class counterparts.
Almost symbolic of this idea of class, third class passengers were placed towards the bottom of the ship.

Titanic Sets Sail from Southampton

On April 10, 1912, Titanic began her maiden voyage to the United States making a further two stops along the way at Cherbourg (France) and Queenstown, in the south of Ireland. As Titanic sailed off, she was waved off by thousands of onlookers and well-wishers in Southampton.
Despite the grand occasion, the departure of Titanic from Southampton involved some anomalies that inevitably fueled later interest.
Image of full scale size of Titanic
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

First, it was recorded that small coal fire broke out in one of the bunkers of the ship, though this was not uncommon on steamships at this time. Whilst the matter was attended to, the captain, Edward Smith, alongside other associates, came to an agreement that there was no sufficient damage caused. As a result, allowance was given to the stokers of the ship to maintain the fire whilst at sea.

However, according to Titanic experts, the fire became more problematic. This further prompted the theory that the need to increase the speed of Titanic was a direct consequence of the fire, which ultimately led to the collision with an iceberg.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only alarming situation to have occurred prior to Titanic’s departure from Southampton.
Another recording demonstrates how Titanic had a near-miss encounter with the America Line’s S.S. New York. Some believe that near misses like this is an unfavourable omen for ships at sea.

April 14th, 1912

It appeared that Titanic was coasting her way into the record books, which would see her arrive in New York ahead of schedule, much to the delight of her owners and director, Bruce Ismay.
On April 14, the crew members of Titanic received scattered warnings from other ships informing them of ice. However, the crew did not head the warnings, as Titanic was sailing on a calm North Atlantic sea.
At approximately 11:30 p.m., members of the crew witnessed an iceberg in the distance in line with Titanic’s pathway. The crew members made their warnings heard prompting the ship to divert the oncoming obstacle.
Titanic’s attempt to evade the iceberg wasn’t as successful as first hoped with the side of the ship suffering from significant damage. Although there was an initial sense of relief among the crew, little did they know of the impact this collision had below the ship’s waterline.
With the captain, Edward Smith, and Thomas Andrews assessing the damage, five of Titanic’s compartments were rapidly filling up with water. This added further pressure to the remaining compartments.
Thomas Andrews predicted Titanic’s life-expectancy to be approximately 60-90 minutes. This calculation forced the captain to send distress signals and begin evacuating the ship.

The Evacuation of Titanic

In amidst the sinking of Titanic, frustration, chaos and pandemonium grew among crew and passengers. Initially, the lifeboats were built to hold 65 people. In the end, they fled from the sinking ship with just 28 people on board.
Image of passengers on a lifeboat
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

These disorderly actions came with a tragic price. As each under-filled lifeboat escaped many passengers were left stranded in the cold, icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Women and children were given priority boarding ahead of men due to the laws of the sea at the time.
Men were granted permission to board once there were no more women and children to board. Sadly, due to the utter confusion and chaos, many of the souls of Titanic were women and children.
With all of the commotion happening, Titanic managed to stay afloat for three to four hours rather than the predicted time of 60-90 minutes.

The Unsinkable Ship Sinks

On April 15, after battling hard to stay afloat, Titanic plunged beneath the sea surface at approximately 02:20 am. 
image of a paper boy breaking the news about Titanic
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

The first form of help came from Cunard’s Carpathia, a nearby ship that picked up Titanic’s SOS calls. After scanning the sea for survivors, Cunard’s Carpathia took the survivors and transported them to New York City.

The news of this disaster soon began to make waves around the world, leaving many people bewildered and distressed about how something like this could happen. Particularly, how a disaster like this could happen to a ship that was considered as ”unsinkable”.
Shockingly, out of the 2,240 passengers, only a mere 705 people survived. Today, the shipwreck of Titanic remains laid to rest over 12,000 feet deep in the Northern Atlantic.

Southampton and Titanic Today

Fast forward over a century and the legacy of Titanic remains to be seen and felt in the city of Southampton.
Visitors, students and natives of Southampton have the privilege of learning more about Titanic and her relationship with Southampton.
Why not visit the SeaCity Museum for more enlightening factual stories about Titanic or perhaps visit the very pier where the White Star Line once stood waving off the Titanic back in 1912.
Additionally, landmarks, such as Titanic memorial, is situated in Southampton City centre in Andrews Park.
For more information about the legacy of Titanic and her connections with Southampton, click here.

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Seeing your son or daughter leave for university is a landmark moment for you as well as them. Find out more about how they will be residing in a safe, secure environment that will enable them to enjoy their university experience.

LEARN MORE

Your safety and wellbeing is our top priority, and we pride ourselves on delivering a first-class standard of security. On-site teams and CCTV surveillance offer additional reassurance.

LEARN MORE

The NOW Building is situated in Southampton, with two leading universities just a matter of minutes away on foot. You are perfectly placed to enjoy all that Southampton has to offer.

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