In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity

And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

THOMAS HARDY (1840-1928)


Titanic Wages

On the night of April 14, 1912, the 46,000-ton, 883-foot ship, then the biggest afloat, struck an iceberg south of Newfoundland. Early next morning, she sank with a loss of 1,500 lives.

The practice of the time was that the seamen's pay stopped at the end of the voyage, even if it ended by sinking (there was no holiday pay or any other benefit of that kind, either). It was the responsibility of the ship's owners to repatriate survivors, but that was all. The White Star Line was acting normally in applying these conventions; in fact they were regarded as having behaved quite generously in that they paid everyone's wages for the early hours of the 15th April, when the ship was already sinking, and even kept on the books some survivors who were taken to America by their rescuers, until they got back to England a fortnight later.
One scandal associated with the disaster was that a couple called the Duff Gordons offered the crew of Lifeboat No. 1 £5 if they got to safety. It may be that it was simply a generous gesture helping out the people who had saved them by giving them a month's wages, but it was felt at the time that the crew had accepted a bribe. When one of them, Albert Horswell, went home, his mother turned him away from the house and never saw him again. 

Titanic Myths

The bottle of champagne failing to break at the launch of Titanic wasn’t a bad omen as it didn’t happen - White Star didn’t christen their ships. You can see Titanic being christened in the 1958 film A Walk to Remember but they used footage of the Queen Elizabeth being launched in 1938.

More lifeboats would only have helped the passengers if there had also been more trained crew who knew how to use them. Titanic’s lifeboat capacity was 1,178 but only 711 people survived including 50 who were saved from the water or who jumped into lifeboats as they were being lowered.  

At the time, Titanic was the largest ship in the world but only by 2%. Her sister ship Olympic was built to the same specifications but Titanic was given some extra features which made her slightly bigger.

There were 7,000 heads of lettuce aboard the Titanic.

Even when adjusted for inflation, the movie Titanic cost 50% more to make than the ship that inspired it.

ERMA BOMBECK (1927 - 1996)

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.

Able Seamen

Able Seamen on the Titanic were paid £5 a month. The system was one of self-certification; those who considered themselves Able Seamen signed on as such; those who admitted they were less skilled signed on as Ordinary Seamen. They were kept honest by the use of a book called the Certificate of Continuous Discharge in which each seaman's history was kept. This had to be presented to every prospective employer, who looked at his last captain's report.

Titanic was as long as three football pitches.

Titanic could eventually disappear - its remains are being eaten by bacteria.

 CAPTAIN E. J. SMITH (Commander of Titanic) 1850 - 1912

I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder… modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.

The most expensive tickets for Titanic cost around $100,000 in today’s money