I think we all know the “big picture” story, so I thought I’d share some new things that I learned:
-The Titanic was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They’ve just opened a spectacular Titanic visitor’s attraction there with galleries that detail every aspect of the Titanic’s journey, an educational facility (Ocean Exploration Center) and Belfast’s largest banqueting facility.
-There’s a reason why some of the lifeboats that were launched were not completely full. Apparently passengers saw lights in the distance, possibly of ships nearby. They were hesitant to get into the lifeboats because they thought they would be rescued in short order. How sad.
-There was telegraph service aboard the Titanic, and it was considered a social service and not a standard part of the ship’s operations. Essentially, it was a luxury service offered to the wealthy to send messages abroad. The telegraphists, as they were called, were employees of the Marconi company. Marconi had helped coin the signal for a ship in distress – CQD (CQ most likely came from the French “secours”, meaning help.).
-One interesting passenger you may not have heard of: Father Frank Browne. He was an Irish priest that took many photographs on the Titanic and disembarked at one of her first ports of call before heading out to sea. His photos have been exhibited, and one of the photos was turned into a scene for the 1997 film “Titanic”.
-The Titanic had “sister ships”. She was part of a trio of ships built by the White Star line to compete with the Cunard line. The sisters were the Olympic and the Britannic. The Olympic had a 24 year career, and when she was pulled from service, some of her interior fittings were sold to hotels. Her dining room can be found in a hotel in Northumberland. Britannic sailed, but never with passengers. She was ready to sail just as WWI started, and had a brief career as a hospital ship before being sunk by a German mine in 1916.
Even after 100 years, there are still Titanic tales to tell.