Change Font Size

lexley Titanic

Why does the story of the Titanic still have the power to move us, even though it happened more than a hundred years ago?

I moved near to Southampton some years ago and soon became aware of the scar that the loss of the Titanic over a hundred years ago had made on this proudly seafaring city. There is hardly a street here which did not suffer the loss of a member of their family. Even now memories abound, kept alive by the tales told to relatives, and passed down through grandchildren, nephews and nieces.

The ship was supposedly bringing work and a new prosperity to the city. Instead it brought heartache, and the stricken faces of those desperately waiting for news. So many never came back and those that did were never the same. What they witnessed that night would haunt them forever.

Lex Titanic

Waiting outside the White Star offices for news.

“The sounds of people drowning are something that I cannot describe to you...It’s the most dreadful sound and there is a terrible silence that follows it.”
Eva Hart, survivor.

But not everyone is so intimately affected so why do they care? Perhaps it’s the mythology constructed around the disaster including many films, books and television series. Gradually it became a soap opera in which tales of heroism and romance abound – Ida Strauss refusing to leave her husband, Molly Brown rowing a lifeboat to safety and Harold Lowe who kept going back to search for survivors; the brave bandsmen who played whilst the ship sank. More dastardly deeds were also remembered, for instance the role of Bruce Ismay, Chairman and Managing Director of the White Star Line.

In 2012, Southampton commemorated the centenary of the disaster in many different ways. One of the most effective was also very simple

Titanic - "From Prow to Stern" - Life-Size - Southampton, England - East Park - 14-15 April 2012

An outline of the deck of the doomed ship was marked out in a city park and just walking round it made it easy to imagine the awe of those observing the great ship’s launch. What also became apparent from information boards was the hubris of the management, only providing enough lifeboats for half the passengers. Even worse, the ones that were provided weren’t properly filled.

A moving vigil was held when a candle was lit for each person who had died

Lexley Titanic

Image copyright 20th Century Fox ,Paramount Pictures

Naturally we’re shocked by the hierarchical attitudes of the ship’s officers in the films but may put that down to the film-makers showing events in a more dramatic light. The statistics speak for themselves though and still shock. Of the 706 third class passengers only 178 survived (24%) whilst the 325 First Class passengers fared better – 202 survived (61%). Ironically many of the dead were attempting to make a new life in a world where they believed class would not matter.

Victorian Britain had appeared to be innovative and confident but there were firm rules governing people’s position in society. All still seemed well during the brief flamboyant reign of Edward VII but cracks were appearing. The Titanic disaster proved to be a microcosm of a country in which there was now no certainty and very little justice if you were poor.

Life has changed a great deal since 1912 and society is much more egalitarian. However despite vast social changes there are still concerns about the gap between the rich and the poor and we have pressing fears as to the effectiveness and safety of scientific innovation. This is why the legends around the sinking of the Titanic still have the power to move us.

Here is a video showing genuine footage of The Titanic 

Titanic Disaster - Genuine Footage (1911-1912)

Southampton is a vibrant and dynamic city proud of its maritime heritage. However many people here still pause once a year on the anniversary of the Titanic disaster, taking the time, not to celebrate, but to remember and mourn.

Meet The Author...
Lexley George
Who Am I?

I’ve been writing poetry and short stories for some time but “How Could She Persuade Him” is my first venture into a novel which I self-published through Amazon. (see the advert).

My favourite Jane Austen book is “Persuasion” and this was the inspiration for my novel. Anna, the heroine is older than most rom-com heroines, ‘old hen’ rather than ‘chick’ lit. As she laments, “Why was it that in all romances the heroine had to be young, sassy, and slim? Why indeed?

I suppose all novels are to some degrees autobiographical but I’m not Anna although she does have some of my characteristics – especially comfort eating!

Apart from writing I love cooking for friends, reading and trying to keep fit with dancing and swimming – something has to counteract the over-eating! I also belong to a reading group and host one for local writers. I do try to concentrate on writing though and have just produced a collection of poems* and am working on another novel. This is more of a psychological thriller.

When I was younger I lived for a few years each in the West Indies and the Middle East - both great experiences. I also enjoyed teaching evening class cookery for quite a while, before starting my own catering business in Wales. One of my regular clients was a recording studio and despite knowing nothing about pop music after the 1960s, it was a great experience getting to know all the groups. They were always very worried if I liked the piece they were working on!

Now my husband and I are lucky enough to have retired to live between Southampton Water and the New Forest. When we have time we really appreciate the beauty of the area. However, like most of us “people of a certain age” between all the activities and family visits to our four children and nine grandchildren we wonder how we ever had time for a “proper” job.

More From This Author...


Comment With Facebook