Memorial held to remember victims of Titanic disaster

A flotilla of vessels leaving Southampton docks, where Titanic sailed from 100 years ago today Photo: PA

Descendants of those who perished on the Titanic today threw flowers on the dockside where she left port on the 100th anniversary of the doomed liner setting sail.

The tribute was the last act in a special ceremony held at berth 44 at Southampton docks from where the White Star ship departed on April 10 1912.

During the ceremony, a minute's silence was held for more than 1,500 passengers and crew who died when the ship sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage to New York.

A recording of the Titanic's whistle was also played across the docks at noon - the exact moment the liner left her mooring - and around 650 relations of the dead paid tribute.

Southampton bore the brunt of the death toll with 549 - more than a third of the total - from the city dying in the disaster on April 15 1912.

Civic dignitaries also paid their respects in the ceremony hosted by television personality Fred Dinenage, whose great uncle James Richard Dinenage - a first class steward - died on the Titanic aged 47.

The service ended with the hymn Nearer My God To Thee, which was said to have been played by the ship's musicians as Titanic sank.

The ceremony, which also told the story of the sinking, is the start of a week of events in several countries marking the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.

They culminate in a service above the wreck site onboard the MS Balmoral with 1,309 passengers who have paid up to £6,000 to sail to the site of the sinking.

Titanic's departure was re-enacted by the tug tender Calshot, which was built in the same era to manoeuvre the world's greatest ocean liners, as it sailed from berth 43/44 followed by a flotilla of craft.

Vanessa Beecham, from Southampton, paid tribute to her great uncle Edward Biggs, a fireman aboard who died aged 21.

"I enjoyed the ceremony which was tasteful and moving," she said.

"It was a worry during the anniversary that the families would be forgotten in all the razzmatazz like the cruise that left a few days ago, but this was lovely."

Mrs Beecham also had another relative, William Harder, 39, a window cleaner on the Titanic, who survived in lifeboat 14 and had never been to sea before.

"He died in the 1960s and he never spoke about it," she added.

School children hold placards showing the names of all those who died after Titanic sank Credit: PA

More than 600 school pupils paid their own poignant tribute to those on board the Titanic as they took part in a parade through Southampton city centre.

Holding placards commemorating each of the local residents who served as crew, the children, accompanied by their families, took part in the procession which ended at the new SeaCity Museum which tells of Southampton's seafaring history and includes a Titanic exhibition.

One of those taking part was four-year-old Jack Avery, from Eastleigh, Hampshire.

His mother, Kaye, discovered that her first cousin three times removed was a trimmer on board called James Avery.

She found out the link while researching her family tree and also discovered two of her own cousins who all met up today for the first time.

She said: "We are all very proud of James and it's lovely for the children to be involved and to find out about their heritage."