Titanic 15th April 1912

RMS Titanic and her sister ships the Olympic and Britannic, were built at the Harland and Wolff Shipyard, Belfast in 1911. Titanic was launched on 31 May 1911, and at 46,329 g tonnes, she was the largest ship of her time. She sailed on her maiden voyage from Southampton on 10 April 1912, on the Southampton-Cherbourg-Queenstown (Cobh -Ireland) -New York route, under the command of Captain Edward J Smith. Aboard were Thomas Andrews, managing director of Harland & Wolff and the Titanic's designer, Thomas Bruce Ismay, head of the White Star Line, and some 1,320 passengers and 892 crew.

Joseph Bruce Ismay (1862-1937)
Managing Director of the White Star Line.
Vilified as a coward who left the Titanic in one of the last lifeboats, while his customers and employees stoically faced their doom on the ship, J. Bruce Ismay was born at Enfield House, Endbutt Lane, Crosby on 12th December 1862.
He was brought up at 13 Beach Lawn, Waterloo between 1865 and 1885. This house is clearly visible from the Irish Sea at the mouth of the River Mersey, and all White Star vessels would offer a salute as they passed the Ismay residence. Crosby was always a sought after area in which to live and was populated in the main by the upper classes for many years.
In 1885 his father and founder of the White Star Line, Thomas Henry Ismay, built a mansion "Dawpool" at Thurstaston on the Wirral, and the family moved from Crosby. Relatives of J. Bruce Ismay's mother, Margaret Bruce, were still living in Crosby as recently as the 1960s.
The Head Office of the White Star Line was on the corner of James Street and the Strand, Liverpool, and it contained J. Bruce Ismay's personal office. The building, of similar design to London's Scotland Yard, is still there today.


J. Bruce Ismay succeeded his father in 1899 as chief executive of the White Star Line. An intensely private man, his natural shyness was often mistaken for arrogance. His generosity is well-recorded, however. Often Ismay would walk the 4 miles from his mansion, Sandheys" at Mossley Hill, Liverpool to his office in The Strand in Liverpool. On one occasion he noticed a group of children playing on a roof. Arriving at his office, he was informed that the building was an orphanage. Ismay immediately ordered a cheque for £500 (that is approximately £25,000 today) to be sent to the orphanage to help the orphans.
In 1907, at a party held at the home of Lord Pirrie, director of the shipbuilders Harland and Wolff, Ismay sketched out on a napkin his plans for the largest liners the world had ever seen -The Olympic, Gigantic and of course the Titanic. He was travelling, technically as a passenger, in his private suite on the second to be built , the Titanic - when she struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage at 11.40 p.m. on Sunday 14th April 1912. He was informed by Captain Smith and designer Thomas Andrews that the Titanic was doomed, Ismay did his best in encouraging reluctant women to enter the all too few lifeboats, and urged the crew to lower the boats into the water to the extent that he was told "to get the hell out of the way" by the fiery Welsh 5th Officer Lowe. Several women testified that Ismay urged them to enter the boats, and at least one later swore she owed her life to him. The circumstances of Ismay's leaving the Titanic would be cause for endless speculation, but there is no evidence to contradict his testimony that he entered the partially empty collapsible 'C' on the spur of the moment as it was being lowered, after first checking there were no women or children nearby. He was by no means the only man to enter a lifeboat.Ismay was a broken man by the time the lifeboat was rescued by the Carpathia, and spent the entire journey to New York in the doctor's cabin and was said to be"under opiates" according to Captain Rostron of the Carpathia.
Inflamed by his silence, the American press needed someone to blame for the disaster, and Ismay provided a convenient scapegoat a position maintained in the most recent Titanic film. Wounded by these hysterical allegations and imputations on his character, Ismay cabled a long statement to the London Times. On his return to Liverpool he was met by cheering crowds at Princes Landing stage. Although J. Bruce Ismay was exonerated of any wrongdoing by both the American and British Enquiries, he never lived it down. Before the Titanic disaster he had already announced his impending retirement as President of International Mercantile Marine, the American conglomerate which had bought White Star Line in 1902. Now he was denied by them the option of remaining chairman of WSL, the company his father had founded in Liverpool.

Continuing the charitable works begun by his parents, J. Bruce Ismay donated £10,000 (approximately £500,000 today) to found the Mercantile Marine Widows Fund in 1912. Deeply moved by the huge death toll of ordinary sailors during the First World War, he followed this up in 1919 with a donation of £25,000 (approximately £1.25 million today), founding the National Mercantile Marine Fund to make provision for the widows and children of merchant sailors, giving preference to dependants of sailors born in Liverpool.
Largely at the insistence of his American wife, J. Bruce, Ismay sold "Sandheys" in Mossley Hill in 1920 and he lived the rest of his life at 15 Hill Street, Mayfair, London. Every week he would travel by train up to Liverpool on Sunday evening, returning Wednesday, to conduct his remaining business and charitable interests in the city. Towards the end of his life he could be found at the back of the crowd, watching parades go by in London, or feeding the pigeons in the parks near his home. Often he would chat with strangers down on their luck, proffering advice and money, they never guessing who he was. Due to circulatory illness, Ismay suffered the amputation of his right leg and died of a stroke on 17th October 1937, aged 74. In Liverpool, flags on civic buildings were flown at half-mast. J. Bruce Ismay's estate amounted to almost £700,000

Edward John Smith (1850-1912)
Captain of the Titanic
The unfortunate captain of the ill-fated Titanic was born in Hanley, Staffordshire on 27th January 1850. Edward Smith ran away to sea when he 16, and spent the next 40 years based on Merseyside, living variously at the Seamen's Home; Hanover St; Berkeley St, Toxteth; and then to number 45 Osbourne Road, Tuebrook where he lived shortly after his marriage in 1887 to Sarah Eleanor Pennington, who was from Winwick, near Warrington, the couple later moved to 39 Cambridge Rd, Waterloo. Captain Smith had joined the White Star Line in 1886, and he steadily progressed through the ranks, taking charge of bigger, better and more important vessels. The list of ships he commanded included, in alphabetic order, Adriatic, Celtic, Coptic, Germanic, Majestic and of course, Olympic, Titanic's older sister vessel.
He lived in Southampton on England's south coast with his wife Eleanor and their 12-year old daughter Helen in Winn Road, in a large twin-gabled red brick house called Woodhead, the docks never being very far away. The crew of Titanic, together with the management of the White Star Line considered Smith to be a competent and well-liked man, and casually referred to him as 'E.J.'.

Captain Smith is recorded in Kelly's street directory for 1891 as living at 4 Marine Crescent, Waterloo. He must have liked this road as he moved to live at number17 Marine Crescent, Waterloo between 1898 and 1907. It was here in May 1903 that Captain Smith made out his will, leaving everything to his wife, or in the event of her re-marriage, to their only child Helen Melville Smith(1898-1973). By coincidence, this house is only yards from the boyhood home of his employer Ismay. During his time in Crosby, Captain Smith's telephone number was WATERLOO 271.

Joseph Bell (1861-1912)
Chief Engineer of the Titanic
The unsung hero of the Titanic was born in Maryport, Cumbria in May 1861. At time of the disaster he lived with his wife and family at 1 Belvidere Rd, Crosby. He also held the rank of Lieutenant-Commander in the RNR and had been awarded the Royal Decoration.
There is a memorial plaque at St. Faith's Church, Waterloo to Joseph Bell and his engineers, all of whom stayed at their posts to the end and were lost. Without their self-sacrifice, the Titanic would have lost electrical power much earlier, and without wireless, pumps and lights the death toll would have undoubtedly been even higher. He died at his post with all his fellow engineers, trying to correct the mistakes of others. He knew enough about the damage to the Titanic to know there was no chance for the ship, or for the men who chose to remain in the engine room. But he stayed there, keeping the pumps going and lights burning until 2 minutes before she sank. Thomas Andrews, the ship’s designer, thought the Titanic would last for an hour. Joseph Bell and his men kept her alive for 2 hours 40 minutes.

Charles Herbert Lightoller (1874-1952)
Second Officer of the Titanic. The senior surviving officer of the Titanic was born in Chorley on March 30th 1874. Between 1904 and 1908 he lived at 8 Cambridge Avenue, Crosby.

Bertie Wilson (1884-1912)
Senior Assistant Second Engineer of the Titanic
The eldest son of Thomas and Mary Wilson of
16 Norma Road, Waterloo, educated at Merchant Taylors
Grammar School, Crosby and subsequently served his apprenticeship with Messrs. J.H. Wilson & Co. of Sandhills, Liverpool

Chief Steward of the Titanic.
Andrew Latimer
was born on 31st January 1857 at Lancaster. At time of the disaster he lived with his wife and family at number 4 Glenwyllin Road, Waterloo.

John Reginald Rice (1886-1912)

Assistant Purser of the Titanic.
Purser's Clerk John Rice was born on 16th June 1886 and had previously served aboard the Celtic. On the Titanic his wages were £5 per month. John Rice lived with his parents at 37 Kimberley Drive, Crosby between 1910 and 1912, when he was lost on the Titanic. His was one of the many bodies recovered from the North Atlantic in the weeks after the disaster

Mr Frederick Fleet (Lookout) was born in Liverpool on 15 October 1887. He never knew his father and his mother abandoned him and ran away with a boyfriend to Springfield, Massachusetts never to be heard from again. Frederick was raised by a succession of foster families and distant relatives via orphanages and Dr Banardo Homes was an inmate at Royal Liverpool Seamans Orphanage. Newsham Park and In 1903 he went to sea as a deck boy, working his way up to Able Seaman.
Before signing-on the Titanic he had sailed for over four years as lookout on the Oceanic. He address was given as Norman Rd, Southampton.
As a seaman Fleet earned five pounds per month plus an extra 5 shillings for lookout duty. And it was as a lookout that Fleet joined the Titanic in April 1912.

Tuebrook in Liverpool has at least 3 connections. First being the 150lb bell and also the 900 portholes and all the brass light fittings where cast at Silverdale Avenue, Captain E.J. Smith lived at 45 Osbourne Road just after he married in 1887.

Photographs by Fr Francis Brown
Father Francis Browne, was a passenger on board the Titanic for the first two legs of her journey only, from Southampton to Cherbourg and from Cherbourg to Queenstown now Cobh in Irelands County Cork,

Two photographs of Fr Francis Brown The first when he was studying for the Priesthood.
He was bought a ticket for the maiden voyage by his uncle and left the ship once she reached County Cork. During his time on Titanic, Fr Browne befriended a wealthy couple who offered to pay for him to continue his travels to New York. He requested permission from his superior to travel to New York, but was ordered to “get off that ship”.
Fr Browne did as he was told and saved his life in the process. It is believed he kept the telegram in his wallet for the rest of his life.

The last ever photograph of the Titanic taken by Fr Brown

His photographs would eventually be used by director James Cameron to help reconstruct the ship for his 1997 blockbuster movie, which is being re-released in a 3D version in April 2012.