At the whipper-snapper age of five years old, I , and everyone else who knew me, could’ve told you that I was obsessed with the 1997 film Titanic. From the built up excitement at the beginning when Jack and Fabrizio win the ticket to America, to Rose’s high-society walls slowly fading… I loved it all. Line for line I would recite that film like I wrote it. My grandma was even kind enough to get me the “real” Heart of the Ocean. To my five year old eyes, it was all magic.
However, the older I got, the more I understood, and soon the magic of that movie was revealed to be a tragic reality. As much as I loved the embellished story, my interest in what really happened in the freezing Atlantic on April 14th and 15th in 1912 grew and grew. Six years ago was the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Now, over a century has passed, and this story still remains one of the great legends of the sea.
Image Via Zinio
There are several movies, memorials, and countless books on this harrowing ship. Although my grandma recently surprised me again: she bought me All About History’s Book of the Titanic. Now that I’m no longer a child, I can fully appreciate the stories of bravery and loss behind history’s most notable ship. The first-hand reports are emotional and the survivor tales are so moving. Many books could tell stories about this event, but I learned more than I ever knew about it and you probably would too. To keep the memory and spirit alive, here are a few facts I learned about the Titanic:
1. We still have the blueprints for Titanic
The original 10-foot-long blueprint of Titanic’s plumbing systems were taken from the ship in Cherbourg by naval architect William Wilson, and sold at auction in 2005 for around $17,000.
2. The engine weighed twenty-two tons
Due to the success of previous White Star Line ships, Titanic’s twenty-two ton engine was a combination of a piston-based reciprocating engine and the more recent steam turbine.
3. The ship carried over 75,000 pounds of fresh meat, among innumerable other supplies of food and necessities
In addition to 75,000 pounds of fresh meat, 35,000 eggs, Titanic carried 40 tons of potatoes, 25,000 pieces of chinaware, and 1,000 pound of tea. These are only a few of the perishables and necessities they brought on.
4. The anchors weighed fifteen-and-a-half-tons
A full team of eight Clydesdale horses had to pull the special cart holding one of the fifteen-and-half ton anchors for the Titanic.
5. The Titanic’s interior was visually stunning
Due to its decor which combined different time periods such as Georgian, Renaissance, Louis XIV and more, Titanic became the most luxurious, opulent, and elegant ship in the world.
6. Titanic carried just sixteen lifeboats
In the original design plan by Alexander Carlisle, sixty-four lifeboats were supposed to be on deck. It was also the law due to the sheer size and number of passengers. However, because of the unwillingness to compromise deck space, his number was knocked down to forty, then thirty-two, then sixteen
7. Someone thought to have perished in the sinking turned up a month later
A fireman on the ship named Thomas Hart from Southampton was originally believed to have gone down with the ship, leaving his mother in despair. However, a month later he showed up at their home. It turned out he never boarded because he lost his discharge book the night before and was afraid he’d get in trouble. He never spoke of it until long after the sinking. No one ever found out who signed in for Hart and took his place on the ship.
8. Thomas Andrews, the managing director of design for Harland and Wolff, helped many people escape the doomed ship, however did not himself escape.
Andrews showed great bravery once he knew the fatal circumstances of his beautiful ship. He helped women and children on board lifeboats and urged all others to get on. Legend has it that a crew member last saw him in the first-class smoking room, staring at a painting called Plymouth Harbour which was a place Titanic was suppose to visit on its return voyage. His lifejacket was on a table in front of him. He bravely went down with the ship.
9. Bands continued to play when the ship began to sink, in order to boost morale.
Due to Titanic’s size, the bands that played were always in two separate groups at different sides of the ship. They played together for the first time on the main deck the night of the sinking in order to keep passengers calm during the crisis. It’s often debated, but the last hymn they’re said to have played is either “Bethany”, “Horbury”, or “Proprior Deo”.
10. When it became clear they were in danger, some wealthy first class passengers changed outfits in order to ‘go down like gentlemen’
When the situation on board became inescapable, American mining magnate Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet went back to their rooms to change into their evening dress. They came back to the to the deck with Guggenheim saying: “We’re dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.”
11. World peace advocate William Thomas Stead died in the sinking.
Thomas was one of the most known and respected men on board, and was an English journalist, editor, writer, and peacemaker who passed away on Titanic. He was a constant advocate for world peace that took on many forms in several countries
12. Three women are remembered in particular for aiding the rescue of others.
Molly Brown, Lucille, Lady Duff Gordon, and Countess of Rothes were three first class women who survived in the lifeboats. They were best remembered for their courage in the chaos of the sinking. Whether they took the initiative to row, demanded to go back for survivors, or kept everyone’s spirits up, they were ladies no one forgot.
13. Molly Brown in particular is said to have kept spirits up using a toy pig.
According to J. Witters, a fellow survivor, “The Unsinkable” Molly Brown was said to have had a little toy pig with her on the lifeboat. When she turned its tail it would play a sweet song which kept everyone’s mood up.
14. J. Bruce Ismay, the chairman and director of the White Star Line, was criticized for sneaking aboard a lifeboat
Although he helped many women and children into the lifeboats, he snuck in one of the remaining at the last minute. His reputation followed him until his passing.
15. Two dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic
Although many of the first class passengers lost their beloved pets, two dogs did survive. Margaret Hays’ Pomeranian and Henry Harper’s Pekinese named Sun Yat Sen both made it into lifeboats.
16. Joseph Laroche, a black victim of the Titanic, is often forgotten.
Unspoken black hero Joseph Laroche was one of the many brave men who sent his pregnant wife and two daughters on a lifeboat. He remained on the ship, but his daughter went on to be one of the oldest survivors of the Titanic.
17. Titanic was never actually advertised as ‘unsinkable.’
Never was Titanic ever advertised as “unsinkable” before the tragedy. Due to competition, luxury, build, and groundbreaking records people simply dubbed it as such, even more so after the tragedy.
These are only a few of the facts that I learned while reading about the beautiful and tragic ship. I don’t think history will ever forget what happened on that clear and calm April night. I know more now than I did before, and it’s a story that should always be retold.
Feature Image Via The Sun