On the night of 15 April 1912, Captain Edward John Smith died along with 1500 other people when RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic.
Edward John Smith was born on 27 January 1850. In 1875 he earned his master’s certificate, a qualification necessary for him to serve as a ship’s captain. In 1880 he became a junior officer with the White Star Line and in 1887 took command of his first ship.
Smith was popular with passengers and crew, earning the nickname ‘Millionaire’s Captain’ and his experience led him to be chosen as the Captain of the brand new Titanic, the White Star Line’s most opulent ship yet.
The doomed liner set sail from Southampton, England and headed for New York, stopping to allow passengers to embark at Cherbourg, France and at Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland. Titanic carried people from the highest echelons of society, including John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim and also those from ‘below stairs’, the third class passengers emigrating to a new life in America.
I was a voracious reader when I was a child and I clearly remember reading about Captain Smith going down with Titanic. That struck a chord with me. Maybe it was because Titanic was emblazoned with the name of the city in which I was born that I paid extra attention to it?
Titanic was lost to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean for almost 75 years when oceanographer Robert Ballard discovered its wreck, along with heartbreaking artefacts lying on the seabed.
Titanic’s discovery in 1985 was a global sensation. Ballard and his team had found arguably the most famous wreck in the world. I was fascinated by its story from that date and was captivated by the underwater photographs that Ballard’s expedition had taken of the decaying ship, a monument to the dead of that terrible night in 1912. I devoured the stories in the newspapers that my father regularly brought home and would later watch documentaries that had recorded the historic expedition.
A couple of weeks ago I was working in the North West, and Googled ‘blue plaques’, keeping to my blog’s featured content for July. I was annoyed to learn that the previous day I had probably been 10 minutes from the house in which Edward Smith had once lived and it would now necessitate a very large detour to visit the former home of the man that captained Titanic on that fateful journey.
With trusty colleagues back in the area this week, I suggested a little extra-curricular activity for them, namely taking a short trip to the house to take a few photos of the blue plaque commemorating Captain Smith.
My intrepid roving reporters did not disappoint and duly sent me several pictures of Smith’s former residence in Marine Crescent, near Crosby shore, including an obligatory selfie of them both with the blue plaque in the background. Thank you so much, Ruby and Jenny.
Once they’d photographed the house for me they headed to Crosby Beach to see the hugely popular Another Place, by Sir Antony Gormley.
Another Place is a fascinating artwork comprising of 100 cast iron figures that cover around 2 miles of the shore.
The figures on display are made from casts of Gormley’s own body and have been positioned on the beach since 2005.
You can read my post Titanic: the Hero Musicians here.
You can read my post Titanic: Before the Disaster here.
Images: All images courtesy of Ruby Musa unless stated