The sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage has a special place in the history of Southampton, a major port in southern England.
Eighty per cent of the crew called the city their home. And the vast majority never came back.
The Sea City museum marks the centenary and charts the lives of six people who were onboard.
Walter Fredericks was a coal trimmer who was expecting to earn a little over five pounds – that’s six euros – for the entire journey.
Dave Fredericks: “Walter Fredericks, when he left on his journey aboard Titanic, he left behind his wife of just one year who was 8-months pregnant at the time with his first son and the interesting thing is that on the 14th of April the night it hit the iceberg was when he turned 21.”
Titanic pampered its passengers with most luxurious standards, and was billed as the most up-to-date vessel afloat.
But for all of its state-of-the-art technology, transatlantic communications were not good enough for those left behind.
Dave Fredericks: “One hundred years ago, people relied on information such as newspapers and my great grandmother would have heard about the sinking of the Titanic from the newspaper, but didn’t have any news about her husband. Did he survive or did he go down with the ship? She had to go to the White Star Line offices in Southampton and wait several days for the survivors’ list to be posted, which would have been a great worry but then a relief when the news finally did come that he survived.”
“Three quarters of Titanic’s crew were sadly lost at sea. Fortunately for Walter Fredericks he wasn’t one of them. He was one of the lucky ones who managed to make his escape in life boat 15 as he was ordered into the boat in order to row passengers to safety.”
“Walter and the other survivors arrived back in England on the 29th of April. Here are pictures in Plymouth. From there they had to give a statement to the Board of Wrecks and then they were placed on the train and back to Southampton where Walter had a happy reunion with his wife Ethel and 10 days later they had their baby boy, Walter Junior. So, a happy ending for him.”
More than a third of all those who perished on the Titanic came from Southampton, the city that paid the highest price in terms of lives lost in a tragedy whose effects are still being remembered today.
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