Archive for 'Southampton'

A hundred years ago, the Titanic was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, three days into its maiden voyage bound for New York

A hundred years ago, the Titanic was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, three days into its maiden voyage bound for New York.

Lost Voices from the Titanic These are the actual words of Charlotte Collyer, one of the passengers on board the Titanic as it headed for its date with destiny. She recalled a conversation with a stewardess on the evening of 14 April, who had informed her that they were heading into dangerous waters; curiously, this had a reassuring effect as she assumed the crew would be all the more vigilant for icebergs.

‘As far as I can tell we had not slackened our speed in the least. It must have been a little after ten o’clock when my husband came in and woke me up. He sat and talked to me for how long I do not know, before he began to make ready to go to bed. And then the crash! The sensation to me was if the ship had been seized by a giant hand and shaken once, twice then stopped dead in its course. That is to say there was a long backward jerk, followed by a shorter one. I was not thrown out of my berth and my husband staggered on his feet slightly. We heard no strange sounds, no rending of plates and woodwork, but we noticed that the engines had stopped running. They tried to start the engines a few minutes later but after some coughing and rumbling there was silence once more.’

They eventually made for the decks where the seriousness of the situation was soon clear.

‘Suddenly there was a commotion near one of the gangways and we saw a stoker come climbing up from below. He stopped a few feet away from us. All the fingers of one hand had been cut off. Blood was running from the stumps and blood was spattered over his face and over his clothes. The red marks showed very clearly against the coal dust with which he was covered. I went over and spoke to him. I asked him if there was any danger. ‘Danger’, he screamed at the top of his voice, ‘I should say so! It’s hell down below, look at me. This boat will sink like a stone in ten minutes.’ He staggered away and lay down fainting with his head on a coil of rope. At this moment I got my first grip of fear – awful, sickening feat. That poor man with his bleeding hand and his speckled face brought up a picture of smashed engines and mangled human bodies. I hung on to my husband’s arm and although he was very brave, and not trembling, I saw that his face was as white as paper. We realised that the accident was much worse than we had supposed, but even then I and all the others about me of whom I have any knowledge did not believe that the Titanic would go down.’

Yet the call was made for women and children to enter the lifeboats; but men were not permitted to board.

‘The third boat was about half full when a sailor caught Marjorie in his arms and tore her away from me and threw her into the boat. She was not even given a chance to tell her father goodbye! ‘You too!’ a man yelled close to my ear. ‘You’re a woman, take a seat in that boat or it will be too late’. The deck seemed to be slipping under my feet. It was leaning at a sharp angle for the ship was then sinking fast, bows down. I clung desperately to my husband. I do not know what I said but I shall always be glad to think that I did not want to leave him. A man seized me by the arm then another threw both his arms about my waist and dragged my away by main strength. I heard my husband say ‘Go, Lotty, for God’s sake be brave and go! I’ll get a seat in another boat.’ The men who held me rushed me across the deck and hurled me bodily into the lifeboat. I landed on one shoulder and bruised it badly. Other women were crowding behind me, but I stumbled to my feet and saw over their heads my husband’s back as he walked steadily down the deck and disappeared among the men. His face was turned away so that I never saw it again but I know that he went unafraid to his death.’

Charlotte ’s tale will resume tomorrow.

To read the full collection of stories from the doomed vessel, you can order a signed copy of ‘Lost Voices from the Titanic’ for £10 including postage and package (£5 P&P overseas)

Price: £10.00

A hundred years ago, the Titanic set sail from Southampton

These are the actual words of Charlotte Collyer, one of the passengers on board the Titanic when it set sail from Southampton a century ago. They sum up the excitement associated with starting a new life in America, leaving England behind, accompanied by her husband Harvey and young daughter Marjorie along with all their worldly possessions.

Lost Voices from the Titanic‘The day before we were due to sail [our neighbours] made much of us, it seemed as if there must have been hundreds who called to bid us goodbye and in the afternoon members of the church arranged a surprise for my husband. They led him to a set under the old tree in the churchyard and then some of them went into the belfry and, in his honour, they rang all the chimes that they knew. It took more than an hour and he was very pleased. Somehow it made me a little sad. They rang the solemn old chimes as well as the gay ones and to me it was too much of a farewell ceremony… The next morning we went to Southampton and then my husband drew from the bank all his money, including the sum he had received from our store. The clerk asked him if he did not want a draft, but he shook his head and put the notes in a wallet which he kept to the end in the inside breast pocket of his coat. It came to several thousand dollars in American money. We had already sent forward the few personal treasures that we had kept from our old home so that when we went on board the Titanic our every earthly possession was with us. We were travelling second cabin and from our deck which was situated well forward, we saw the great send off that was given to the boat. I do not think that there had ever been so large a crowd in Southampton and I am not surprised that it should have come together… The Titanic was wonderful, far more splendid and huge than I had dreamed of. The other crafts in the harbour were like cockle shells beside her, and they, mind you, were the boats of the Americans and other lines that a few years ago were thought enormous. I remember a friend said to me ‘Aren’t you afraid to venture on the sea?’ but now it was I who was confident. ‘What on this boat!’ I answered. ‘Even the worst storm could not sink her’.

The collision that took place in Southampton harbour with the New York failed to dent her confidence:

‘Before we left the harbour I saw the accident to the New York, the liner that was dragged from her moorings and swept against us in the Channel. It did not frighten anyone, as it only seemed to prove how powerful the Titanic was.’


Harvey wrote to his parents, shortly after they had set sail:

‘My dear Mum and Dad,

It don’t seem possible we are out on the briny writing to you. Well dears so far we are having a delightful trip the weather is beautiful and the ship magnificent. We can’t describe the tables it’s like a floating town. I can tell you we do swank we shall miss it on the trains as we go third on them. You would not imagine you were on a ship. There is hardly any motion she is so large we have not felt sick yet, we expect to get to Queenstown today so thought I would drop this with the mails. We had a fine send off from Southampton and Mrs S and the boys with others saw us off. We will post again at New York then when we get to Payette.

Lots of love, don’t worry about us. Ever your loving children

Harvey, Lot and Madge’

Charlotte and Harvey’s tale will resume on 14 April.

To read the full collection of stories from the doomed vessel, you can order a signed copy of ‘Lost Voices from the Titanic’ for £10 including postage and package (Overseas £5 P&P)

Price: £10.00