1. ITV Report

Titanic: the aftermath

Children at St Paul and St Timothy's Infant School in Liverpool Photo: Mel Barham

She is the most famous shipwreck of all time; a story that made the front pages of every newspaper. But this was not just a story that enthralled and fascinated at the time, 100 years on - we're still talking about it and a new generation is now learning the lessons of Titanic.

As hundreds scrambled into lifeboats and many more were freezing to death in the icy waters, news of the disaster is already trickling through. The two radio operators onboard Titanic, who were trained at Seaforth Sands on Merseyside, begin sending frantic distress calls:


15 April 1912

R.M.S Titanic to Any Ship:

“CQD CQD SOS Titanic Position 41.44N 50.24 W. Require immediate assistance. Come at once. We struck an iceberg. Sinking”.

12.20 am

15 April 1912

R.M.S Titanic to R.M.S. Carpathia:

“Come at once. We struck a berg. It’s a CQD, old man.”


15 April 1912

R.M.S Carpathia to R.M.S. Titanic

“Shall I tell my captain? Do you require assistance?”

12.26 am

15 April 1912

R.M.S Titanic to R.M.S. Carpathia:

“Yes, come quick!”

"The two of them must have worked very hard under very severe conditions when you think what was happening to the stability of the ship. Trying to get hold of stations - other people were trying to ask what was going on. They would also cause interference to the distress itself, but the wireless operators did tremendous work."

(Stan McNally, Fort Perch Rock)

Over the following hours, hundreds of messages are sent and received from the rescue ship Carpathia - all via the new technology of Marconi wireless radio - these telegrams some of the very first indications the tragedy's happened. They're sent to the Cunard building in Liverpool, but the messages are far from clear, with no confirmation WHO or how many have survived.

On the streets of Liverpool - there is turmoil. One story goes that a whole group of women – wives and mothers of crew on board, rushed from Scotland Road down to the White Star Line building – desperate for news. But with barely any information themselves, the clerks inside are said to have simply shouted down what news they had from the balcony, too scared to come down.

It’s an equally confusing picture in the papers.

"The problems with it initially was they didn't have all the facts at hand and it took a while for things to filter through and a number of prestigious papers said ‘Titanic hits iceberg but everybody safe’, ‘Titanic towed to port’, but they were proved rapidly wrong and within 24 hours had all corrected those mistakes and the real enormity and tragedy of the story came through." (Peter Elson, Shipping correspondent, Liverpool Post and Echo)

Liverpool was a city in mourning. The mood was reflected in the pages of the Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury.

"They've been looking at all the different aspects of it - the alarm in Liverpool -the fact everybody in Liverpool would have known somebody or even been related to somebody onboard the Titanic". (Peter Elson, Shipping correspondent, Liverpool Post and Echo)

And the human cost of the disaster wasn't just counted at sea; on land - its impact would last for generations. The story goes a policeman walked into a school in Bootle the day after the tragedy and asked the children if anyone had relatives on board Titanic. Many of them put their hands up and they were sent home to their grieving families.

In the weeks that followed - there were inquiries both in the US and the UK. Many of the most pivitol characters who gave evidence were from the North West including J.Bruce Ismay, Charles Lightoller, Captain Arthur Rostron. Through their testimony, safety regulations were changed, making boat travel safer for everyone.

A British inquiry in 1912

"I think the disaster made everyone aware of the potential pitfalls and dangers of travel at sea - people worked to try to allieviate those as much as possible but as we've seen in recent times can't be erradicated altogether but Liverpool continued as a port but hopefully learnt the lessons of Titanic." (Ian Murphy, Merseyside Martime Museum.)

A hundred years on, those lessons are being learnt by a whole new generation. Children at St Paul and St Timothy’s Infant school in Liverpool have been learning all about the disaster. They have written songs, produced artwork and poetry, and even dressed up in period costume to do role play.

Children at St Paul and St Timothy's Infant School Credit: Mel Barham

Liverpool lost some of its most experienced crew when Titanic sank. But the infamy of the world's most famous shipwreck ensures their memory will live on.

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