Last time, we began with a glimpse into Titanic’s maiden voyage, beginning with the preparations in Southampton on April 5, 1912. On Sailing Day, April 10th, Titanic departed Southampton on what would be her only voyage, carrying 2,208 passengers and crew.
Titanic departing Southampton April 10, 1912
On this day in 1912, 2208 passengers and crew had five days until their departure from Southampton on the RMS Titanic. They came from 27 different nations and all walks of life. Many of the passengers were returning to the United States following their honeymoons, vacations, or business travels. Most had never been to America, but dreamed of a new life there. For them, these last five days would be filled with preparations, good-byes, tears, and anticipation. No one had any idea of the tragedy that would soon befall them.
On April 10, 1912, the Titanic departed Southampton, England and made its first stop in Cherbourg, France at 6:30 pm. Two tenders carried 281 passengers to the ship, representing 26 nationalities.
Among those boarding in Cherbourg was Joseph Laroche, his wife Juliette, and their daughters, three-year-old Simonne and 21-month-old Louise. Joseph was the only black passenger to board the ship. The Laroche family were bound for Haiti, where Joseph, 25, had been born.
Joseph Laroche and family
Thomas Drake emigrated from England to Pennsylvania in 1829, opened a fabric mill, and began manufacturing denim. Soon, he was making jeans under the trademark, ‘Kentucky Blue Jeans.’ He became the cloth supplier for the Union Army uniforms during the Civil War, and increased his wealth through various investments. When he died in 1890, his only surviving child, Charlotte, inherited his fortune, plus the family mansion, Montebello. Located in Germantown, Pennsylvania, it occupied a full square block.
Montebello, home of Charlotte Cardeza
When Anna Sophia Turja of Finland boarded the Titanic in Southampton on April 10, 1912, she looked forward to starting a new life in America at the home of her sister and brother-in-law. The couple had paid for Anna’s third class passage, and she planned to work in her brother-in-law’s store in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Anna Sophia Turja
With so many discussions of immigration at the forefront of today’s news, let’s take a look at the immigrants who boarded the Titanic. What were the immigration requirements in 1912? What happened to the immigrants who managed to survive the disaster, and how were they treated upon their arrival in New York?
Even before her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, the RMS Titanic was sometimes called the Queen of the Seas. She was the largest and most elegant ocean liner in the world, and would surpass all other ocean-going passenger ships in size, speed, and luxury. Tragically, she collided with an iceberg on her debut voyage and sank, killing over 1500 passengers and crewmembers.
Today, a new Queen makes regular transatlantic crossings. The RMS Queen Mary 2, built in 2003, is the only ocean liner in service between Southampton and New York, and has claimed the title of the largest ocean liner ever built, once held by Titanic. At 1,132 feet long, the Queen Mary 2 surpasses Titanic‘s length of 882.5 feet by 249.5 feet.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2
Although the RMS Titanic sank nearly 105 years ago, the ship is still making news. Documentaries, books, movies, exhibits, and conferences about Titanic continue to draw our attention. Now, there’s even a video-on-demand Titanic Channel!
Here’s a sampling of the latest news about the ship:
Did a fire cause Titanic to sink? A 2017 New Year’s Day British television documentary, “Titanic: The New Evidence,” claimed a coal fire in one of Titanic’s bunkers was the real cause of her sinking. According to the documentary, newly-discovered photographs taken before Titanic left the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast reveal a long black mark on the ship’s starboard side. Experts claim the mark was likely caused by a coal fire, which could have weakened the hull. When the ship struck an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, the already damaged hull didn’t stand a chance.
Titanic leaving Southampton on April 10, 1912
Not everyone agrees with the documentary’s findings, however. On Encyclopedia Titanica’s Facebook page, for example, many Titanic experts state the findings are “old news” and largely false. Bunker fires in coal-burning ships were common at the time, and although Titanic did have a fire in one of her bunkers, it was not severe enough or in the area that would have caused the mark in the photograph. The fire was extinguished prior to striking the iceberg, and it did not damage the ship’s hull.
Titanic in China
The Chinese are constructing a full-size replica of the Titanic, although it will be permanently docked on a river. Slated to open near the end of 2017, the tourist attraction in Sichuan will be an exact reproduction of the ship, down to the last detail. At a cost of over one billion yuan, developers claim that visitors will be able to experience what life was like aboard the luxurious liner. Even the moment the Titanic struck the iceberg will be reproduced using high-tech simulators.
Titanic China under construction
Titanic Belfast 2017
Among the many international exhibits and events focusing on the Titanic this year, perhaps the most publicized will be the Titanic Gathering in Belfast. The city where the ship was built is already the home of the world’s top-rated tourist attraction, Titanic Belfast. The April 14-15 gathering will coincide with the 105th anniversary of the sinking, and will feature expert speakers, discussions, tours, and all things Titanic. Relatives of the ship’s passengers and crew will attend, as well as authors of Titanic books and hundreds of Titanic enthusiasts from around the globe.
Photo credits: EncyclopediaTitanica.com, CNN.com, TitanicBelfast.com
When 23-year-old Robert Hichens married in 1906, his marriage certificate stated his occupation as “master mariner.” Indeed, he had served aboard numerous ships, including mail boats and small liners, usually in the position of quartermaster. But until he was hired in April of 1912 as one of Titanic’s six quartermasters, his experience at sea did not include the North Atlantic.
Titanic Quartermaster Robert Hichens
Titanic’s cargo consisted of a wide variety of items being exported to America—everything from “dragon’s blood” used in cosmetics, cases of ostrich feathers for women’s hats, and even a rare copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Passengers, of course, brought along their trunks, furniture, other household items, and pets. The total value of the cargo would be valued at over $200 million today. Many artifacts have been found during expeditions to the wreck site, but one of the largest, a 1911 Renault Coupe de Ville, remains buried beneath the north Atlantic.
The Renault was produced from 1905-1914 and had a top speed of 35 mph. It was listed on the Titanic cargo manifest, a copy of which was safely aboard the Cunard liner Mauritania. It had been purchased in Europe by William Carter of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Lucile, boarded the Titanic at Southampton, along with their two children, a maid, a manservant, and a chauffeur.
Portion of Titanic’s Cargo Manifest
In addition to the new Renault, the Carters also brought with them two dogs, a Spaniel and an Airedale. The family had previously moved to Europe, but spent summers in Bryn Mawr and Newport, Rhode Island. They planned to return to Bryn Mawr when the Titanic reached New York.
Shortly before Titanic sank, Carter managed to secure a place in the Collapsible Lifeboat C. His wife claimed he reached the Carpathia before she and the children did, and that he had deserted them during the loading of the boats. They were later divorced.
The Renault, made famous in the film Titanic, was not conveniently parked in the hold but had actually been shipped in a large case, according to the cargo manifest, perhaps with some assembly required. Following rescue, Carter filed a claim with the White Star Line for $5000 for the car, and $100 and $200 for the dogs.
A fully restored Renault, made to the same specifications as Carter’s, sold in 2003 for $269,900.
Photo Credits: Foxnews.com, encyclopediatitanica.com