1. ITV Report

Enduring legacy of doomed Titanic

The sinking of Titanic made headlines across the Atlantic. Photo: Reuters

One hundred years ago today Titanic set sail from Southampton.

Hailed by the press as an 'unsinkable ship' it was the ultimate symbol of modernity; the owners were so confident of their vessel they famously did not install enough lifeboats.

Disaster soon struck and what happened next has been the subject of hundreds of books and dozens of films and TV adaptations.

The first book on the sinking of the Titanic was written by Charles Lightoller, second officer on the ship and the most senior officer to survive the disaster.

Lightoller was the last survivor to be taken on board RMS Carpathia. Credit: Reuters

In 1935 Lightoller wrote an autobiography 'Titanic and other ships' in which he described the evacuation process of the ship, and the scramble for the lifeboats as survivors waited for HMS Carpathia to rescue them.

Bravery and self-sacrifice such as this was of common occurrence throughout the night.

– Charles Lightoller, 'Titanic and other ships'
Harold Bride, surviving wireless operator of Titanic, with feet bandaged being carried up ramp of Carpathia. Credit: Belfast Industrial Heritage

In 1955 a non-fiction book called A Night to Remember was published featuring interviews from many survivors. Their personal stories were serialised in newspapers around the time as well.

Titanic passengers aboard the Carpathia. Credit: Belfast Industrial Heritage

The most famous of the many films made about the disaster was the 1997 blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Directed and written by James Cameron, it was most expensive and highest grossing film of its time. It received fourteen Academy Award nominations and won eleven; including Best Director and Best Picture.

The film poster for Titanic Credit: PA

Charlie Warmington is a maritime writer and runs what he calls the 'only authentic Titanic tour' around the area the ship was built in Belfast.

He has taken hundreds of tourists from all over the world around the Harland and Wolf dock and he says the reason people are still so interested in story is because of the conspiracy theories that surround the sinking.

The most common question I get asked is whether it was Captain Smith's fault, or was he forced to speed into the night by Ismay, the man who owned the company.

In my view the reason the ship sank was hopelessly inadequate seamanship

– Charlie Warmington, maritime historian and writer
The telegram sent to Olympic on the night the Titanic sank Credit: Reuters

Warmington says Titanic was "in many ways the perfect story" just at the time when newspapers were being commonly read by mass audiences.

Titanic has everything you want in a story - it has celebrities, it has scandal, it has the rich, it has the poor, the story of immigration. It has the fear of the wide ocean, the fear of the unknown and all the complications of a very corrupt company

– Charlie Warmington, maritime historian and writer

Warrington says the element of celebrity and scandal may have contributed to the legacy; although 1,500 people died it was a relatively minor maritime disaster for World War One.

The great majority of lives lost were from the lower decks. More than 550 people from Southampton died on the ship, mostly crew members.

Titanic in Southampton Credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

Titanic was the biggest moving object in the world at the time. And the last time a ship was called "unsinkable."

_ITV Meridian have a special programme marking the 100th anniversary tonight at 6pm. _

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