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"Let me tell you about Jenny. Jenny was another member of crew who had also worked onboard Olympic before joining Titanic. At night Jenny slept with one of the stokers, and in the daytime patrolled the remote dark areas of the ship. Jenny as you have probably guessed was the ships cat and sadly had just had kittens. 2 dogs survived the disaster but Jenny did not."

As curtain raiser for what will be a year of RMS Titanic celebrations here is a lengthy extract from our lecture notes, from a series of five expanded lectures on RMS Titanic .This extract is taken from lecture four and deals with the people on board. What comes over is a completely different tone and style to recent film and TV productions.  Remember, we are looking at lifestyles with 21st Century eyes, all this happened over 100 years ago. Enjoy!     Copyright Julian Bray & Morag Irving 2012.

The full series or invidual lectures are normally presented podium style with a lavishly presented PowerPoint which contains many new illustrations and technical data. The second half of the presentation is an audience led Q&A no areas are off limits....

There is something so very special about a maiden voyage, everything you touch is new, you are the first person to sleep in the sheets, the crockery and cutlery is brand new and unused. The Champagne is chilled and ready, the guest list is also sparkling. ... 

*** Morag Irving and I were lucky enough to be on the maiden voyage of  the Independence of the Seas to Cobh formerly Queenstown in Ireland in 2008. The maiden voyage of the Independence followed a similar course to Titanic who visited Cobh on her own maiden voyage in 1912, sadly of course as we now know Titanic’s maiden voyage was also to be her last voyage. ***  Julian  Bray

Passengers arrive in Southampton on two specially chartered trains leaving from London to meet Titanic. One is reserved for first class the other for second and third, the railway company has built an extension to the line to take people to the ship.

55 people who have booked passage fail to arrive. Among them is the Vanderbilt family,  they decide they don’t want to be on a maiden voyage, although they have paid for their suite.  Their luggage is already loaded, and as they are unable to take it off they send a manservant to accompany the luggage to New York, neither the luggage or the unfortunate man will arrive.

On boarding Titanic, via the iron gates leading to the lounge first class passengers remarked they could still smell fresh paint. Carpets were still being laid just prior to departure, plants and flowers for the ship were loaded, supplied by a nursery in Southampton, the ship was alive with activity. Stewardess Violet Jessop tells us how she dreaded the departure days, she has worked on several other White Star Liners, working her way up to first class. Friends and families of those sailing send flowers to the ship. Passengers called for vases, ‘as large as possible Violet’ to put the flowers into, backwards and forwards with arms full of flowers, which would need daily attention throughout the journey. Why couldn’t they send chocolates thought Violet?

Entry via third class is a little different. Passengers are examined by the crew. A medical condition will prevent entry to America through Ellis Island. Those refused entry are sent back to Europe at White Star’s expense. First class and officers are exempt from this examination. On arrival at New York the process begins again, with 3rd class and crew attending a muster to ensure all are healthy, any ill health or even coming from a part of the world perceived to be a danger will quarantine the  entire ship for up to 3 days. No ship is allowed to dock in the US until this has been carried out.

Third class single passengers have been spared the indignity of dormitory accommodation normally provided on liners. Instead cabins have been designed some to hold 4 persons, but each with hot water and heating. Third class accommodation is good an improvement on other ships. Food is plentiful although ‘hearty’ by today’s standards.

Titanic had been docked at Southampton for several  days loading goods and taking delivery of items ready for departure. The clock on the Grand Staircase was fitted in Southampton, she had arrived with a mirror masking the gap where the clock would be, time had ran out in Belfast and many of the small niggles were being ironed out as departure loomed. Mr Andrews who designed the Titanic is onboard with 6 men from Harland and Wollf to make notes of things that need attention and list possible improvements. Titanic has benefited from following Olympic, they are sisters but they are not totally identical. Suites onboard Titanic are larger than Olympic, boasting the first private decks. The swimming pool is heated the first heated pool at sea. Part of an open deck on Olympic is enclosed on Titanic, the Atlantic spray is not welcomed on first class.

Possible improvements to Titanic will be incorporated into her  new sister, at the moment she is to be called ‘Gigantic’ that will change, Mr Andrew’s doesn’t know this yet, he never will; nor will the other 6 men from Harland and Wollf.
The one time Titanic was seen ‘Dressed all over’ was Friday  5th April, Good Friday. Dressed all over is the description given to a ship flying all her flags. A brand new Renault car is loaded onto the ship in a crate , it belongs to Mr Carter travelling home to the US  with his wife children and two servants. The Carters would survive the journey, the car bought for $5,000 would not, nor sadly would Mr Carters two dogs.

Three hoots on the huge whistles and she is ready to go, the gangplank is pulled up and 8 crewmen have missed the ship, 2 make a jump for it and are onboard. The other 6 walk away, they have missed the ship, no wages for them; but, they are the lucky ones they just don’t know it yet. 6 tugs pull her out of the dock, pushing and shoving. A near collision with the liner ‘New York’ is quickly avoided.
Father Browne travelling from Southampton to Cobh manages a quick photograph, he will not keep this, thinking to disregard it a bad image, amateur photography is a popular new pastime. The  photographs from the journey end up in a bank vault they are valued at over 2 million pounds. On arrival at Cobh crewman John Coffey aged 24 jumps ship. He hides with the mailbags being taken off, although he has signed on for the round trip. Cobh is his hometown, maybe he only signed on to get a free passage home.

In the mailbags taken off at Cobh is a letter written by officer Wilde to his sister. Officer Wilde writes he doesn’t like this ship ‘I have a queer feeling about it’ he is correct, Officer Wilde will not complete the journey.

In second class Esther Hart also has premonitions about this voyage. She takes the measure of sleeping all day and staying awake fully dressed at night. The Harts are travelling to Winnipeg to start a new life.  This will save her life and that of her daughter Eva aged 7, Mr Hart is lost. Esther and Eva are deported from the US as with Mr Hart goes their only way of support. Eva remains outspoken about this and the sanctuary of Titanic as a grave site for the rest of her life.
It is sometimes said Titanic is cursed by the presence of an Egyptian mummy among the cargo. No such item is listed in the cargo manifest. Although among the strange listed are  10 bags of suspenders belonging to Baring brothers in Southampton.

The crew came predominately from Southampton, some had been onboard since she left Belfast, preparing the ship. Many coming from the same street. The new crew signing on to the ship were glad of the work; as many had not worked for the 6 week duration of the coal strike, and unemployment  in general was very high in Southampton, 17 thousand are out of work in the area. The port is filling up with vessels unable to move as they have no coal. Six other White Star ships had been emptied of coal in preparation for the maiden voyage.
A planned visit to Liverpool, where White Star Lines had their head offices had to be cancelled, due to the coal strike ongoing at the time, coal was too precious and was saved for the Atlantic run. It is rumoured Olympic arrived in Southampton from New York with coal stored aboard in passenger accommodation, some cabins being used to store coal.

Titanic’s passengers expected and received the highest level of service, this is what they had paid for no allowance was made for a maiden voyage with a new crew. A suite on the Titanic would cost an average £870 pounds in 1912, while a suite on Cunard would cost £450. A third class passage to New York was £3. The exchange rate onboard is $4.80 to the pound. Travelling to New York onboard the Olympic almost identical to her sister Titanic, the Prince of Wales describes his suite, B53 as ‘too pretty for me’.
The Titanic is the last word in style and comfort. Spies from rival liner company Cunard board to look over the new ship, they report the main staircase is too big and could be made a single throughway. They dislike the black and white linoleum at the bottom of the stairs. Many of the luxurious furnishings on Titanic including the Turkish baths are copied into future Cunard liners.

Crew rely on passengers to tip them at the end of the voyage, and help supplement the wages, some  frequent travellers avoid doing this; they become known to the crew. 684 of the crew lost are from Southampton. Their pay is stopped the day Titanic sinks. A fund is started to help them, the King donates £250, Queen Alexandra £200.  Woolworth’s in New York has a special counter manned by crew waiting to go home, all profits are given to them. Olympic unable to get to her sister in time starts a fund among her passengers £1,700 is raised for Titanic’s crew.

Captain Edward Smith was at the pinnacle of his career, his nickname among regular travellers was ‘The Millionaires Captain’. Regulars on White Star Lines would alter their travel arrangements in order to travel under the command of Captain Smith. The captain’s table is small and intimate, it seats only 6; it will be used only once. White Star’s first class clientele was predominantly American, and Captain Smith was no stranger to the New York route. Previously he had commanded the Olympic, also taking her out for her own maiden voyage, this was to be his last trip before retirement. Edward Smith was born in that traditional English sea faring county of Staffordshire, first going to sea aged 16.
His first command was as a Naval Reserve in the Boer War, this entitled him and subsequently Titanic to fly the blue flag of Naval reserve, ordinarily it would be red. This was to be his last voyage, retiring after 30 years with White Star. It is sometimes said Captain Smith had an exemplary record of safety at sea, not quite true. Olympic under his command had crashed into a naval ship the Hawke in 1911 and Olympic had to return to Belfast for repairs, some of the parts intended for Titanic have been cannibalised for Olympics’ repairs. The captain’s  salary was £1,250, to put this into context, Captain Lord of the Californian’s salary was £240 annually.

Captain Smith lived in Southampton, in Winn Walk, although his house has now given way to a block of flats. Everyone who served under him went on to speak well of him and the families of some of those also lost attended his memorial and subscribed to a fund in remembrance of him. The American inquest into the Titanic disaster found Captain Smith reckless and apportioned a large amount of blame to him. The British inquest found both Captain Smith and the White Star line free of any charge of  negligence.

Violet Jessop the  stewardess in first class accommodation. She had worked her way up to the position, serving on Olympic and other White Star liners. 17 hour days were normal for stewardess and stewards, the pay for this is £2 a month. Violet doesn’t want to join Titanic, but she has friends among the crew; they persuade her to join them. Life below stairs is not without humour, the crew form a family.  
Crew quarters on Titanic are much better than other ships, bathrooms have been provided, rooms are still shared and the space is cramped, but the bathrooms are  a major step forward. Maids and menservants travelling with families are given their own dinning room. Some accommodation for servants is included for free when booking a suite on Titanic.
Violet will survive the Titanic disaster and went on to  also survive the sinking of the Britannic, Titanic’s sister ship where she worked as a nurse during the First Word War.  Violet wrote about her experiences, in her book ‘Titanic Survivor’, well worth a read if you find it. Violet points out some of the mistakes made  in ‘A Night To Remember’ the 1950’s Kenneth More film about the Titanic. Ladies are shown in the film wearing the huge cartwheel hats popular in 1912 at table and indoors. Violet points out they would never be worn indoors, but always removed! The same mistake is made in the James Cameron film.

Alice Cleaver was a lady with a past, she was hired by the wealthy Allinson family of Montreal who needed a children’s nurse at short notice for their journey home on the Titanic. The Allinson’s have 2 children, Trevor and Helen. Unknown to the Allinson’s though, Alice had just been released following a  three year sentence for the the infanticide of her child.
When notice was given to put on lifebelts and assemble on the promenade deck Mrs Allinson appeared to suffer what we might now term a panic attack, the family go back to their suite to collect lifejackets. Mrs Allinson, Helen and Mr Allinson were never seen again. Alice took baby Trevor Allinson to the deck where she found a seat in a lifeboat for herself and Trevor. On arrival in New York the family can not understand how Alice has survived and the others have not. Photographs of Alice holding baby Trevor are doctored to soften Alice’s appearance.

Some years later the wider Allinson family are contacted by a woman claiming to be the lost Helen. The story given is baby Helen is rescued by Mr Andrews who has a new identity and has taken Helen to live in the Mid West. As proof of identity ‘Helen’ has family jewels that Mrs Allinson took on the voyage. It is thought ‘Helen’ is no other than Alice Cleaver who later disappears into history.
Alice is not the only shady character onboard. Card sharps regularly ply the transatlantic route, rich pickings on this voyage. In the warm lounges in front of blazing fires after several courses and well refreshed they challenge unwitting passengers to card games. They have to board under false names as they soon become recognised. The effects of Mr E Gilbert Dambon are found to contain gold watches, a ruby ring, diamond ring, a jewel case, $266 dollars in notes and a cheque for $1,315 dollars. No family is ever traced for Mr Dambon. Was he a card sharp or a jewellery thief? We will never know.

Mr Hoffman is onboard with his two small sons, Michel and Edmund. But again nothing is as it appears. Mr Hoffman is Mr Navrail who has abducted his two sons following the breakdown of his marriage. His sons arrive in New York Mr Navrail is lost. No one now knows who the two boys are. While they are in New York fellow passenger Edith Russell looks after the boys. Photographs are taken and placed in European newspapers in an effort to find their family. Eventually their mother sees the picture and arranges to travel to the US to pick them up. Edith Russell is a fashion writer who goes on to become a well known war correspondent.

Colonel J Jacob Astor boards with his wife and several  servants. J Astor is among the richest men in the world, he is the Bill Gates of 1912.  The title Colonel came from Astor’s participation in the US/Spanish war. The Astor family own the Astor Hotel among 700 other properties, the hotel will become the Waldorf Astoria. Even today, Bill Clintons daughter, Chelsea, holds her wedding in what was J Astor’s old home.  The Astor’s have spent the winter in Europe, following Jacobs divorce and rapid remarriage. Madeline Astor is 18 years old and in a ‘delicate’ condition, J Astor is 47 with a 19 year old son. J Astor is a ‘celeb’ the newspapers adore him, he sells newspapers. The divorce fills miles of newsprint, with the church questioning Astor’s rights to marry again.
Astor vanished for 16 days in the Caribbean, causing much speculation before re appearing. He is a man born out of his time, he invents bicycle brakes and writes what is to become science fiction. At the time he is perceived as an eccentric.

He is going home with Madeline. The Astor’s are among 8 other honeymoon couples onboard, only one of the honeymoon couples will survive. Jacob Astor will not survive, his body is identified by his initialled handkerchief, a diamond ring and the 2,400 dollars found in his jacket.
The Astor family send their yacht to Halifax Nova Scotia to pick up his body. The child Madeline is carrying is a boy, he will be called  John Jacob Astor after his father. Madeline re marries twice, but both marriages end in divorce, the last marriage is to a prize fighter she dies in Palm Beach in 1940 aged only 47.

What happened in their lifeboat during the course of that night  was to spell social disaster for another couple. Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife Lady Lucille Duff Gordon were travelling to Chicago to discuss business matters. Lady Duff Gordon had gone ‘into trade’ something looked down on by the upper classes at the turn of the century who none the less had been marrying into trade and money for the past hundred years or so. Lucille had a very successful and profitable  dress designing business, with outlets in Paris, London and New York.

The Duff Gordon’s were to be among the first passengers who appeared on the boat deck. They left the ship in lifeboat number one with 3 other passengers and 7 members of crew, a total of 12 people in a lifeboat designed for 35 people. The first lifeboat to leave the stricken ship.

During the course of the night Cosmo learned the crews wages stopped the minute the ship sank. He made the charitable or highly unfortunate gesture of writing each crew member in the lifeboat a cheque for £5, roughly 3 months wages.
This was to be severely criticised in the press, was it a charitable gesture or a bribe to cover up the fact the lifeboat never went back to look for survivors? It is to say the least a strange thing to do in a lifeboat surrounded by ice in the middle of the Atlantic to sit and write cheques. But, the shock of what had just happened did strange things to people that night. We are only now finding out about Post traumatic stress disorders.

Onboard Carpathia the ship which rescued the survivors the Duff Gordon’s continued to make some very serious errors of judgements. They grouped together the crew of lifeboat 1 for a souvenir photograph which shows a smiling happy group. This is onboard a ship filled with widows and grieving families.

The press had a field day with this. In an effort to claw back some dignity the Duff Gordon’s made a request to appear as witness’s at the British Board of Enquiry. They were to be the only passengers who appeared at the British enquiry. The enquiry then was not as we understand an enquiry now, the whole thing would be over in a month; now we would expect everyone to be interviewed and the process to take years. The room was filled with public ticket holders when Lady Duff Gordon spoke. Although exonerated from any blame by the enquiry the events of the night spelled social disaster for the couple. Lord Mersey in his conclusions to the official report writes he ‘regretted none of the lifeboats especially number one had attempted to save the drowning’.

Their business interests failed with World War 1 and they spent the rest of their lives living abroad ostracised from society. Lord Duff Gordon in particular said to be highly distressed at the turn of events.

Onboard Carpathia the Marconi operators work tirelessly to send lists of surviving passengers. They ignore all incoming messages, even one from the US president William Taft, enquiring after his friend Archie Butt who was travelling first class. Mr Marconi has made a deal with the newspapers and has imposed the news blackout. The operators are part of the deal and will earn a years wages for their part. Marconi operators although listed as crew as with several others were not employed by White Star, their employer was the Marconi company. 

As no response is made to his repeated requests eventually President Taft sends a US gunboat  to meet Carpathia as she approaches New York. Over a megaphone President Taft learns his friend has been lost. Mr Marconi becomes a little strange as the years go by. Towards the end of his life he declares himself a supporter of Mussolini and refuses to travel in a lift with anyone he doesn’t know personally.
I mentioned premonitions made about the Titanic. Perhaps the strangest of all is a book called ‘Futility’ published in 1898. It is a work of fiction about a ship called ‘Titan’, Titan is 800 feet long, Titanic is 882 feet. ‘Titan’ sails in April, Titanic sails in April.

‘Titan’ hits an iceberg on her maiden voyage and the majority of her passengers are lost, sadly we know how Titanic’s own journey ended. We are fully aware of the dangers of icebergs now, but that simply wasn’t the case before the disaster occurred. Hindsight is a wonderful but hard fought thing.

Finally, let me tell you about Jenny. Jenny was another member of crew who had also worked onboard Olympic before joining Titanic. At night Jenny slept with one of the stokers, and in the daytime patrolled the remote dark areas of the ship. Jenny as you have probably guessed was the ships cat and sadly had just had kittens. 2 dogs survived the disaster but Jenny did not.

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (HOME ISDN 017 33 55 53 19) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5

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