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The true story behind Plymouth’s role in the RMS Titanic disaster

The true story behind Plymouth’s role in the RMS Titanic disaster

Two weeks after the ship sank some of the survivors, who were all crew, were taken to Plymouth, England.

  • Playing its part in many historical events – from The Mayflower setting sail for North America to the World War Two bombings, Plymouth also had a role in safely transporting the survivors of RMS Titanic more than 100 years ago, two weeks after she had sank.

Titanic crew arrives in Plymouth. 

‘The unsinkable ship’ sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg during her maiden voyage.

Plymouth,England, Titanic,RMS Titanic, crew members, survivors, cruising the past, Michael l grace

  • The British passenger liner had more than 2,000 people on board, 1,500 of whom lost their lives.
  • Two weeks after the ship sank some of these survivors, who were all crew, were taken to Plymouth before making the journey back to Southampton, where the Titanic first set sail.

Video of Plymouth Titanic Exhibition in 2017.

  • About 86 crew members had to stay overnight. The men slept in the passenger waiting rooms, and the 20 stewardesses were put up in a nearby hotel, The Duke of Cornwall.

Plymouth historian Derek Tait said:

  • “At 8 am, the SS Lapland moored at Cawsand Bay with the 167 members of the Titanic who hadn’t been detained in New York for the American inquiry. Three tenders left Millbay Docks to collect the passengers and the 1,927 sacks of mail that had been scheduled to be carried by the Titanic. The third tender, Sir Richard Grenville, carrying the survivors, killed time in the Sound while the dock laborers and porters were paid off and escorted out of the dock gates at West Hoe. After midday, the tender was given the all clear and the survivors were allowed to disembark in an air of secrecy. They were then put on a special train from Millbay Docks to Southampton where they arrived at 10.10pm that night.”

Plymouth,England, Titanic,RMS Titanic, crew members, survivors, cruising the past, Michael l grace

  • Titanic’s maiden voyage was intended to be the first of many cross-Atlantic journeys between Southampton, Cherbourg in France, Queenstown in Ireland and New York in the United States, returning via Plymouth on the eastbound leg.
  • Captained by Edward Smith, the ship’s passengers included some of the wealthiest people in the world, as well as hundreds of emigrants from Great Britain and Ireland, Scandinavia and elsewhere throughout Europe seeking a new life in North America.

To this day the tragedy remains one of the biggest disasters at sea the world has witnessed.

Plymouth,England, Titanic,RMS Titanic, crew members, survivors, cruising the past, Michael l grace

  • On the day of the landing in 1912, The Manchester Guardian published a story about the survivors setting foot ashore in Plymouth.

In the story, one of the most interesting of survivors, a leading Stoker, or ‘Captain Stoker’ – who was on duty in the very bowels of the ship at the time she struck the iceberg, told a reporter:

  • “I was on the eight to twelve o’clock watch… there would be 83 men on that watch. Eight of us out of the 83 are here. The rest of the 83 were drowned.”

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