Legbourne East Wold Primary School – Mr Watson's Blog

A place where we can share what we are doing in class, find out more and reflect on our learning!

The Titanic – A Brief History

Posted by eastwoldblog on January 17, 2011

As we have been looking at Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘Convergence of the Twain’ and you seemed enthusisatic and interested, I thought that you might like a bit of additional information.

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The Titanic

Before the age of passenger aircraft, ships were the only means of crossing the Atlantic and the journey took several days. Although the White Star Line’s ships were famed for their comfort, their rival Cunard’s liners, with their new turbine engines, had won speed records for the Atlantic crossing.

 In 1907 the White Star Line decided to produce three new ships which would outdo their rivals in terms of size, speed and luxury. They were to be built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and over 15,000 workers were employed to build the first two ships. When the first of these, Olympic, was launched in 1910, she was the largest moving object ever to be created by human beings. But in 1911, when the Titanic was launched, she took over this record. However, before the Titanic could be put into use she needed to be fitted out. This was done in such a luxurious fashion that she was known as a ‘floating palace’ and described by a periodical of the time as having ‘accommodation superior to anything previously seen afloat’.

She was built with a double-bottomed hull and a complex system of watertight compartments, which meant that, even with several of her compartments flooded she could still remain afloat. For this reason she was described by the periodical, The Shipbuilder, as ‘practically unsinkable’. She also had on board a Marconi wireless, the most powerful of any other passenger vessel of the day, allowing her to transmit distress calls in event of an emergency.

On April 10th 1912 she finally set sail from Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York. As she set off she narrowly missed colliding with the liner New York which had broken her moorings. She crossed the channel and stopped at Cherbourg and then in Queenstown, Ireland to collect more passengers before setting off on 11th April to New York.

At first the crossing was calm, and the Titanic began to build up speed. By Sunday April 14th the weather had turned cold. Normally, the Sunday church service would be followed by a lifeboat drill, but today it was cancelled.

Three ice warnings had come in across the telegraph and these were taken to the captain. The White Star Chairman, J. Bruce Ismay, who was on board, suggested that the Titanic should speed up to get out of the ice field. Another ice warning came in at 7.30pm, but as Captain Smith was at a dinner party, he never received it. Further ice warnings were delayed by private transmissions.

At 11.40pm lookouts noticed an iceberg right ahead and raised a warning. The Titanic turned to avoid it, but it just scraped the starboard side of the ship. The captain inspected the damage and realised that five or six of her watertight compartments were damaged and that, with more than four damaged, she could not stay afloat. The passengers were instructed to put on their lifebelts and come up on deck. The lifeboats began to be filled, with women and children first. Many refused to leave their husbands and some lifeboats were launched half empty. Distress rockets were fired at 12.45am as the seriousness of the situation became apparent. As the water rose in the ship, the orchestra continued to play.

Even after the last of the lifeboats had been launched, hundreds of passengers were still trapped on board. At 2.10am the bow of the ship dropped further and then at 2.17am the stern rose into the air, spun round, and then slid down below the surface of the water.

(Thanks to ‘Hamilton Trust’ for the body of text)

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Hope the information is of interest!

Mr W.

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