Retired Derbyshire teacher’s research into doomed Titanic

Nicola Freeman and Helen Monk at Matlock Luncheon Club meeting.
Nicola Freeman and Helen Monk at Matlock Luncheon Club meeting.

An insight into events leading up to and including the sinking of the Titanic on its Atlantic crossing in 1912 was given by retired Derbyshire schoolteacher Helen Monk to members of Matlock Luncheon Club.

Helen’s extensive research has uncovered that the loss of the Titanic, together with an enormous loss of life, was not just a ship built to be unsinkable colliding with an iceberg, but was a series of events leading up to and culminating in the disaster, namely technical faults, human error and even pure bad luck.
These events began at the outset with a change in the interior design for a massive staircase, by the owner Bruce Ismay, which lowered the bulkheads and put the ship lower in the water, plus two-thirds of the lifeboats were taken away to allow passengers more view on deck – and crucially these modifications were passed by the Board of Trade.

In the building of the ship the mechanical riveter could not get to the bow, the heads of these human hammer fixed rivets did not withstand the collision and flew off causing the ship to sink quicker.

The key to the crow’s nest locker had been lost prior to departure with the one pair of binoculars locked inside leaving only human eyes to see distance and that night there was no moon.

There been a fire in the engine room prior to departure – this event has in recent months come to light and is now known to be instrumental in the sinking of the ship, as consequently the bulkhead had buckled and split. This evidence was put forward but ignored at the original inquest.

To get to New York in record time the ship was going too fast and iceberg warnings were ignored at a crucial time due to the radio operator having a heavy workload, and not being able to contact the captain in the dining room.

The nearest ship had warned the Titanic but had not given the urgent prefix, then gave up, switched off radio contact thinking the distress flares were fireworks and all

was well.

The milder weather had put the iceberg lower into the shipping lanes due to the melting icecap, the Titanic

upon spotting the iceberg tried to change direction but this was in vain.

Many lives were lost due to misunderstandings on deck that night, the actual command was women and children first, not women and children only, causing families to be split on one side of the ship and many men lost. Lifeboats were poorly filled and that day lifeboat practice had been cancelled.

From the outset all these events contributed to the largest ship in the world at the time, built to be

unsinkable, colliding with an iceberg, going down into the Atlantic and losing 1,503 lives which should have been saved.

In thanking Helen, Pam Murgatroyd said her talk was truly poignant, hugely interesting and very moving.