40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn't Teach Us in the Movie
40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie

D.G. Hewitt - February 5, 2019

It’s the most famous disaster story ever – and it’s all completely true. The Titanic sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912. More than 1,500 people lost their lives, including crew and passengers. The tragedy sent shockwaves right across the world. The giant ship – the biggest ever to take to the seas – was supposed to be indestructible. Indeed, more attention had been paid to making it the epitome of luxury than to matters of health and safety.

Even to this day, the sinking of the Titanic continues to be the source of much fascination. Almost everyone knows the story. But what about the lesser-known facts? Like how several minor decisions, often made by confused passengers and crew in a split second, would have huge consequences. So, from its ominous launch to the second tragedy struck, here we present 40 things about the Titanic you really should know:

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The Belfast docks were a dangerous place to work, including on the Titanic project. Wikimedia Commons.

40. Even before it was launched, the Titanic was a killer – as Belfast shipyard workers found out.

The mighty Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. The project was a huge undertaking for the Northern Irish capital and provided thousands of men with work. However, it came at a cost. Since the ship was built at a time when worker safety was not a prime concern for employers, it was a dangerous business. In all, 8 men lost their lives. Of these, 5 were named, but the names of the other 3 will never be known – the Titanic project involved hundreds of casual, undocumented workers. What’s more, 246 men were injured, many seriously, at the Belfast shipyard.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
A reconstruction of the lavish – and expensive – interiors of the Titanic. Telegraph.

39. The Titanic was the most expensive ship ever built – some economists estimate it cost more than $1.6 billion in modern money.

The Titanic took 26 months to build. And it was a hugely expensive project. At the time, it cost the equivalent of $7.5 million to construct, making it by far the most-expensive ship in history at the time. Given exchange rates, inflation and taking the Gold Standard and Fear Index into account, economists estimate that this was equivalent to around $1.66 billion in today’s money. Even more was then spent fitting the ship out. Unsurprisingly, therefore, tickets to travel on the Titanic were very pricey indeed. A first-class suite cost the equivalent of $83,000, though cheaper berths were available in the lower classes.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The White Star Line were worried about cursing their flagship liner. Wikipedia.

38. The owners of the Titanic didn’t officially name or ‘christen’ the ship – they thought it would bring bad luck!

The Titanic was officially launched on 31 May 1931. The local Belfast news reported that a crowd of up to 100,000 people were there to see the monumental event, among them the White Star Line owners and local dignitaries. Some 20 tonnes of soap were needed to grease the slipway to help the huge vessel glide slowly down into the deep waters of the River Lagan. Notably, the company had a superstition of not ‘christening’ its ships with a champagne bottle smashed against the hull. They also refused to give the Titanic its name until it was ready for passengers – to do so was considered bad luck.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The fourth smoke stack was unnecessary but certainly looked good. Pinterest.

37. The fourth smoke stack made the Titanic look impressive, but it was completely unnecessary.

Many myths about the Titanic are simply not true. However, it is true that the ‘fourth smoke stack’ was indeed not needed, and just added to make the ship look better. In 1911, several large ships sailed with four smoke stacks, using all of them to draw heat and smoke from their huge boilers. Thanks to its advanced engineering, the Titanic only needed three. However, a fourth one was added anyway to make the ship look more impressive and balanced. Quite simply, the public would have disappointed if the greatest ship of all time was launched with ‘just’ three stacks.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The Ritz had its own health club, so the Titanic had one too! World Lifestyle.

36. The inside of the Titanic was modeled on the Ritz – it was hoped rich passengers would forget they were on a ship at all.

When it came to the interior furnishings, no expense was spared to make them as luxurious as possible – at least in the First Class cabins. Famously, many parts of the Titanic’s interior were modeled on the famous Ritz hotel in London. Indeed, the designers always hoped that, as soon as the stepped aboard, wealthy passengers would forget they were on a ship and instead feel as if they were in a luxury hotel. Of course, the added extras for First Class passengers – including a swimming pool, Turkish bath, squash court and steam room – would have helped.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The Titanic’s boiler rooms were hellish places, though the workers earned extra. Pearl and Dean.

35. The Titanic needed a power station bigger than most American cities to keep the lights on.

The Titanic was incredibly coal-hungry. The huge ship was fitted with three four-cylinder engines, each one of them driving a propeller. To keep them going, a team of around 200 firemen were required to work in hellish conditions shoveling up to 600 tonnes of coal into the furnaces. They also had to shovel 100 tons of ash overboard. And that was just to power the ship’s propellers. The Titanic also had its own on-board electrical plant, capable of producing more power than the average American power station of the time. For good reason, the men keeping the engines going and the lights on were paid more than most other crew members.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Just a few of the many bottles of wine that sank with the Titanic. Pinterest.

34. As many as 40,000 eggs and thousands of bottles of wine were loaded on for the Titanic’s historic maiden voyage.

Keeping the crew and passengers fed and refreshed was a round-the-clock job requiring a huge team of chefs and kitchen assistants – and the biggest pantry on the high seas. According to the official inventory, 40,000 fresh eggs were taken aboard at Southampton for the voyage, as well as huge volumes of meat, cheese and other essentials. The Titanic’s crew and passengers also consumed 14,000 gallons of drinking water a day. Plus, for the first-class passengers, the ship’s cellars were filled with 12,000 bottles of wine and champagne – many of which still lie on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, unopened and perhaps even drinkable.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
None of the marketing posters ever claimed the Titanic was ‘unsinkable’. Pinterest.

33. The Titanic was never advertised as ‘unsinkable’ – even if many people believed it could never go down.

It might seem strange now, but back at the start of the 20th century, it was widely believed that steel-hulled ships were ‘unsinkable’. But was the Titanic advertised as such? Certainly, the ship’s builders, Harland and Wolff, always insisted they never promised the Titanic would never go under. Neither did the White Star Line ever use the word in its marketing. Ironically, the only confirmed example of the Titanic being described as ‘unsinkable’ came after it had hit the iceberg. When told of the incident, White Star’s VP P.A.S. Franklin famously said: “We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable.”

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
It was feared too many lifeboats would ruin the views for rich passengers. Wikimedia Commons.

32. Only 16 lifeboats were fitted onto the Titanic, even though it had space for 64.

When the Titanic was built, space was made for 64 lifeboats. When it was launched, however, only 16 lifeboats were fitted. For Captain Smith and his officers, this was no cause for alarm. At that time, huge vessels like the Titanic were seen as almost-unsinkable. As such, lifeboats were there only to ferry passengers to another ship in the event of an emergency. Plus, no lifeboats were installed on the upper decks as this would have spoiled the views for the rich passengers. In most cases, crews were not trained in how to launch lifeboats, and this lack of knowledge proved highly costly on that fateful night in April 1912.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
A lifeboat drill had been planned, but cancelled so passengers could go to Mass. Pinterest.

31. A lifeboat drill was scheduled for the morning of the disaster – but was personally cancelled by Captain Smith.

There are a lot of ‘what if?’ moments in the tragic story of the Titanic. And none more so than the fact that a lifeboat drill was scheduled to take place on the morning of 14 April – the very same day the ship sank. Quite why the drill was cancelled at the last-minute remains a mystery. However, there is one theory that, since it was a Sunday, Captain Smith cancelled it so that passengers could attend a church service. Given he was an old-fashioned and quite strict Christian, this may have been the case. Either way, the decision meant that, when the tragedy began to unfold, most crew members had no idea how to operate the Titanic’s lifeboats.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
All the Titanic’s senior officers were men, as were most of the crew. Times of Malta.

30. There was no gender equality on the Titanic – the crew was 97% male and most of these were just casual workers instead of skilled sailors.

When it set sail from Southampton, the Titanic was carrying a crew of 885. Since this was 1912, the White Star Line was not big on gender equality in the workplace. As such, the crew was 97% male. That is, there were just 23 female employees on board. Almost all of these were employed as stewardesses, catering to the needs and whims of the upper-class passengers. Like the majority of the male crew members, they were not sailors, nor were they permanent staff. In most cases, they only stepped aboard the Titanic for the first time a few hours it departed on its maiden voyage.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Captain Smith was a veteran of the sea but the Titanic was his first ever crisis. Pinterest.

29. Captain Smith didn’t plan on retiring right after the Titanic’s maiden voyage, but he was at the end of his career at sea.

John Edward Smith was almost certainly the right man to captain the Titanic on its maiden voyage. He was a skilled and highly-experience seaman. Born in 1850, he rose through the ranks of first the Royal Navy and then the British Merchant Navy before joining the prestigious White Star Line. Smith was one of the company’s finest, captaining the Majestic for nine years before being given the covetous role of captaining the Titanic. According to one much-cited legend, Smith had vowed to retire after the Titanic’s first voyage. Sadly, this is not quite true – though he had said he planned to retire once White Star launched a bigger, faster boat.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
This novel famously featured a doomed liner called the Titan. Coincidence or spooky? Royal Museums of Greenwich.

28. Several books had been written ‘foretelling’ the disaster – but even the spookiest of these can be chalked up to mere coincidence.

One popular urban myth about the sinking of the Titanic is that the tragedy was eerily foretold more than a decade before. Most famous of all, an American writer named Morgan Robertson wrote the novella Futility in 1898. That told the story of a ship called Titan that hit an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic. The story also sees large numbers of passengers dying due to a lack of lifeboats. To some, this was a spooky premonition. However, Robertson did tweak some parts of his book before re-publishing it in 1912 – plus three ships called Titania had been lost at sea in the 19th century, so perhaps the name of the fictional vessel isn’t so spooky after all.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The Astor heir and his young bride’s honeymoon ended in tragedy. Flickr.

27. 13 couples were honeymooning on the Titanic, including the billionaire Jacob Astor IV and his young, pregnant bride.

A voyage across the Atlantic to New York City must have seemed like a romantic idea for a Honeymoon at the time. And, indeed, the Titanic set off with 13 honeymooning couples on board. As with the passengers in general, some drowned, and some were saved through a combination of heroism and simple dumb luck. The most famous newlyweds were 47-year-old Jacob Astor IV and his 18-year-old bride Madeleine, who was pregnant. It’s said that Astor had to step into the lifeboat on four occasions to persuade his young wife to leave him and escape. He died in the tragedy.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Marconi’s invention was on the Titanic, but he was not. Wikipedia.

26. The radio pioneer Marconi was just one of several historical figures who had planned to be on the Titanic but who didn’t get on the doomed ship.

Several notable figures were booked to travel on the Titanic but didn’t go. Among them was Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian inventor and telecommunications pioneer. He had been offered a free ticket on the ship’s maiden voyage, but in the end chose to travel to New York three days earlier. However, the wireless Marconi famously invented was installed in the Titanic’s control room and the technology was credited with helping save more than 700 lives. Marconi would have another near escape in 1915. He was on board the Lusitania when it was sunk by a German U-boat but managed to get away with his life.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
A letter sent from the Titanic by its heroic mail clerks. NPR.org.

25. The Titanic was an official mail ship – and the staff of its Sea Post Office did their duty to the very end.

The Titanic was an official mail ship – in fact, it was almost certainly the most famous mail ship in history. Its full name was R.M.S. Titanic (that is, Royal Mail Ship) and, as such, it had its own Sea Post Office on board. The mail room was staffed by a team of five full-time clerks. It was their job to sort through the 3,423 sacks of mail that were loaded onto the Titanic in England so that it was all ready to be delivered when they got to America. According to witness testaments, all five clerks died still trying to keep the mail safe and dry.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The Titanic is seen here leaving Cherbourg, where it picked up people and dogs. Wikimedia Commons.

24. The ship made two stops before its ill-fated voyage across the Atlantic, with hundreds more passengers joining after Southampton.

The Titanic didn’t just sail from Southampton in the direction of New York City. In fact, it successfully completed the first two legs of its maiden voyage. After leaving the south of England on 10 April, the boat arrived in Cherbourg, France later that same day. Dozens of passengers boarded before it set off again to Queenstown (now known as Cobh) in Ireland. Here, 123 passengers got on, more than 100 of them booked to travel in steerage, or Third Class. It was only on 11 April that the Titanic set off on the ill-fated trans-Atlantic leg of its maiden voyage.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
A recovered menu for First Class passengers on the Titanic. Pinterest.

23. Menus for the ‘last supper’ of the Titanic’s First Class passengers have been rescued, and show just how decadent the dining was.

Two menus for dinner for the First Class passengers onboard the Titanic for the evening of 14 April – the day the ship went down – have been recovered. And they show just how decadent the travel experience was for those wealthy enough to cross the Atlantic in style. The final dinner of the doomed rich men and women was a lavish, 10-course feast, starting with oysters and ending in French foie gras and ice cream, via roast beef and roasted ducklings. Of course, the dinner would have been accompanied by fine wines and concluded with coffee, cigars and port.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The huge Titanic even had its own mini newspaper. Wikipedia.

22. The Titanic even had its own ‘newspaper’, keeping rich guests informed about stock prices and race results.

The Titanic was, in some ways, like a floating city. Or at least, as its designers intended, like a luxury hotel. It even had its own newspaper, albeit one for First Class passengers. The Atlantic was put out each morning, with the clerks having spent the night listening to radio bulletins and noting down the latest news from the financial markets as well as from the world of horse racing. The daily bulletin also included a copy of that day’s menu. Sadly, no copies of the Atlantic Daily Bulletin survived the sinking.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Some of the Titanic’s canine passengers pictured on deck. Smithsonian Magazine.

21. 12 dogs were onboard the Titanic – and 3 of them even survived the ship’s sinking.

Along with the many passengers and huge crew, 12 dogs were onboard the Titanic for its maiden voyage. All but three got on at the French port of Cherbourg, And they were treated very well indeed. The ship had its own luxury kennels for its four-legged guests – after all, only First Class passengers were permitted to bring their dogs, and they demanded the very best. Tragically, of the 12 dogs on the Titanic, only three survived, including two Pomeranians who were carried onto a lifeboat by their wealthy female owners.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Icebergs were a constant danger to ships crossing the Atlantic. RIC.

20. On the day of the disaster, the Titanic received 6 separate iceberg warnings – but the crew just said “thanks” and ignored them.

Famously, the Titanic received not just one but six warnings of icebergs on the very same day it sank. All of them were acknowledged but ultimately ignored. One in particular advised the Titanic’s crew that they were heading into dangerous waters. The steam liner Mesaba sent one warning to the Titanic just three hours before it collided with the iceberg. The message read: “In Latitude 42 to 41.25 north, to longitude 45 to 45.20 west, saw much heavy pack ice and a great number of icebergs. Weather clear.” In return, the Titanic replied simply “Thanks”. It’s highly unlikely Captain Smith never saw this message.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The Titanic crow’s nest, from where the iceberg was spotted. Flickr.

19. Thanks to a mix-up, the Titanic’s lookout didn’t even have binoculars to look out for icebergs from the crow’s nest.

In another ‘what if’ moment, when the Titanic entered icy waters on the night of 14 April, the lookout did not have a pair of binoculars. Quite why this was the case has been the source of much debate – as well as of an in-depth investigation immediately after the tragedy. It may have been a crew reshuffle led a seaman leave the Titanic at Southampton, taking the key to the crow’s next locker – in which the binoculars were kept – with him. Or that same seaman, Second Officer David Blair, may have just taken the binoculars with him when he was bumped from the maiden voyage at the last minute.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Rescue ships managed to identify and photograph the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. BBC.

18. The iceberg that sunk the Titanic had floated from Greenland and had been thousands of years in the making.

It’s believed that the iceberg that sunk the Titanic broke off from the Qassimuit mass of south-west Greenland in 1908, and it may have been formed by snow that fell some 100,000 years ago. It floated around that region for a few years, slowly melting, before it started heading south at the beginning of 1912. By the time it reached the Atlantic shipping lanes, it was around 400 feet in length and towered 100 feet above the ocean surface. This means it most probably weighed a massive 1.5 million tonnes. The iceberg was spotted by ships that came to the Titanic’s rescue in the following days – according to some crewmen, it had a strip of red paint down one side.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
James Moody was the first Titanic officer to be informed of the looming iceberg. BBC.

17. Just 37 seconds passed between the iceberg being spotted and it fatally scraping the side of the Titanic.

It was the lookout Frederick Fleet who spotted the iceberg first. He immediately telephoned Sixth Officer James Moody – given the hour, most senior officers had retired to bed – and famously exclaimed “Iceberg, right ahead!”. After some confusion, the Titanic’s heading was altered just in time to avoid a head-on collision. However, this meant that the iceberg struck the vast hull with a glancing blow. In all, just 37 seconds passed between Fleet spotting the danger and the Titanic suffering its fatal blow.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Survivors of the Titanic on one of the rescue ships. Pinterest.

16. Many passengers either didn’t realize the ship had been hit, or assumed it was nothing to worry about.

When it happened, many of the passengers didn’t even realize that the ship they were on had hit an iceberg. Those in Steerage – or Third Class – were on the lowest decks and felt the force of the collision the hardest. But even most of them weren’t unduly concerned. In the First Class cabins, the collision led some passengers to remark that it felt like the great ship had, in the words of one wealthy woman, “just gone over about a thousand marbles”. Even many of the crew were unaware of the magnitude of the crash – until, of course, the water started coming in.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
5 of the Titanic’s compartments flooded, dooming the ship. BBC.

15. Hundreds of tonnes of water started flooding the Titanic – 45 minutes after the initial impact, it was clear the ship was doomed.

With its exterior breached, the Titanic started taking on water at a rate of around 400 tonnes per minute. This was 15 times faster than it could be pumped out. The ship began to flood right away. While it was fitted with bulkheads – essentially compartments sealed with watertight doors – these were not sealed at the top. Within 45 minutes of the collision, around 13,700 tonnes of water had been taken on and five compartments were flooded. Captain Smith was informed in no uncertain terms that the Titanic was doomed.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
For an hour, even some crew thought the Titanic would survive the collision. Good Housekeeping.

14. It took just over 2 hours for the Titanic to go down, even though for a while it looked like it would stay afloat.

It took 160 minutes for the Titanic to sink. Significantly, the rate at which the giant ship flooded with water wasn’t consistent. For the first hour after the collision, the ship started to list quite rapidly. After an hour, however, the rate at which the Titanic started to go down slowed markedly. This was noticeable to the passengers onboard. Many concluded that the worst was over and that the ship would stay afloat long enough for help to arrive. However, after the two-hour mark, the front section of the Titanic began sinking faster and faster. The end was near.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
One of the lifeboats carrying fortunate survivors of the Titanic disaster. Wikipedia.

13. The evacuation of the Titanic was unorganized and almost certainly cost dozens, maybe hundreds of lives.

Around 40 minutes after the Titanic struck the iceberg, the first lifeboats were being loaded with passengers. This was the start of an inefficient, unorganized process, with some historians of the disaster subsequently blaming Captain Smith for his lack of leadership. According to witness accounts, there was some confusion as to whether the crew were required to let only women and children onto the lifeboats or to let them on first and then give any free spaces to male passengers. This led to many lifeboats being launched with empty seats. For instance, the first lifeboat to be launched had just 28 people in it yet it had enough room for 65.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Guggenheim and his valet decided to die like gentlemen in their evening suits. Wikipedia.

12. Several rich passengers got changed, lit up cigars and prepared to face the end ‘like gentlemen’.

Benjamin ‘Ben’ Guggenheim was one of the wealthiest of the Titanic’s passengers and so could comfortably afford a First Class suite. Joining him was his mistress Leontine, as well as his valet, chauffeur and a maid. When the Titanic hit the iceberg, Guggenheim had to be woken up. Unlike certain other rich men, he showed courage, ensuring his mistress and maid got seats on a lifeboat. Famously, he then returned to his cabin and put on his dinner suit, as did his valet. The pair were last seen sipping brandy and smoking cigars on the deck. “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen,” Guggenheim was said to have remarked.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The story of the stoic Titanic Band has understandably endured. YouTube.

11. The Titanic band kept on playing right up until the end, even if their last tune remains the source of much debate.

The story of the ‘Titanic Band’ has become something of a legend. Several witnesses testified that the did indeed see Wallace Hartley assemble his band in the First Class lounge and start playing in order to keep passengers calm. It was also reported that they then moved onto the deck and kept playing even when it became obvious they were going to die. The ‘fact’ that the band was playing “Nearer, My God to Thee,” as they went under is likely apocryphal. But still, all the band members died, and when Wallace’s body was recovered, he was found to be wearing his evening dress, with his instrument case attached to his chest.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Hundreds went into the cold waters, and only a handful survived. Wikipedia.

10. The water was so cold that most passengers in the water would have had a heart attack within a matter of minutes.

Those passengers or crewmen who didn’t get a seat in a lifeboat were ultimately doomed. Though the sea was eerily calm, it was lethally cold, with a temperature of 28 °F (−2 °C). Most people would have suffered a cardiac arrest within the space of a few minutes. Of those who went into the water, just 13 were picked up by survivors in the Titanic’s lifeboats. Famously, the ship’s head chef Charles Joughin tread water for an incredible two hours before being rescued. He put his survival down to the fact he took several swigs of strong liquor when it became clear the Titanic was going under.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Captain Smith famously decided to go down with the ship rather than try and save himself. Wikipedia.

9. Captain Smith was determined to go down with his ship – and faced the end with unquestionable stoicism.

The decisions made by Captain Smith on that fateful night continue to be the source of much debate. However, even his detractors concede that he stayed true to the ‘laws of the sea’ and stoically went down with his ship. The last confirmed sighting of Smith was on the bridge, with some survivors even claiming he was at the wheel. Before the Titanic went under, he released the crew of their duties, giving them the chance to save themselves. Smith was heralded as a true British gentleman and his last reported words – “Well boys, do your best for the women and children, and look out for yourselves” – were widely cited as proof of this.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Numerous treasures were lost with the Titanic tragedy. Pinterest.

8. Large quantities of fine wines, champagne and even hard drugs were lost when the Titanic went down.

It wasn’t just unfortunate passengers and crew who went down with the Titanic. As we’ve seen, hundreds of bottles of vintage champagne, as well as other fine wines from the ship’s cellars went to a watery grave. What’s more, four large cases of opium were lost with the Titanic. While this had been banned under American law just a few years previously, it was still being imported into the country for medicinal use. Notably, the Titanic’s richest lost passenger, John Jacob Astor IV, came from a family that made its fortune in the opium trade, as well as from trading in fur and speculating in real estate.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Priceless cultural artefacts sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic and were lost forever. History Extra.

7. Several literary treasures were also lost, including valuable books and paintings.

Harry Elkins Wiedner’s body was never recovered. Neither were the books the young Harvard graduate had in his luggage. In particular, these included a very rare first edition of Francis Bacon essays, a huge loss to the literary world. Also reportedly lost in the disaster was a signed picture of Giuseppe Garibaldi. An Italian man travelling in Second Class who survived against the odds claimed he had the memento of his country’s national hero in his luggage. Once he reached New York, he submitted an insurance claim for $3,000 for the painting – a huge amount of money for the time.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Captain Lord became a hate figure for failing to sail to the Titanic’s rescue. The Vintage News.

6. The SS California could see the Titanic’s distress flares, but its “reprehensible” captain failed to go to the ship’s rescue.

The closest ship to the doomed Titanic was the SS California. Under the control of Captain Stanley Lord, the ship was sailing from London to Boston. Just before midnight, the crew spotted a ship’s lights around 12 miles away. They tried to signal it but got no reply. When they then saw the mystery ship fire rockets into the air, some crewmen advised the captain they thought it was in distress. Both the British and American inquiries into the tragedy concluded that hundreds of lives might have been saved had Captain Lord gone to Titanic’s rescue – one even called his actions that fateful night “reprehensible”.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The famous newspaper headline declaring nobody had died. Wikimedia Commons.

5. Some newspapers initially reported that the Titanic had gone down with absolutely no loss of life!

Famously, the first news reports about the loss of the Titanic reassured readers that the ship’s passengers had escaped with their lives. In Canada, as well as in Britain, the headlines read: “Titanic Sinking: No Lives Lost”. This has gone down in infamy as being the least accurate newspaper headline of all time. So how did the mix-up happen? According to historians of the disaster, wireless operators interpreted a message that all was ‘OK’ with the rescue ship with confirmation that all the Titanic’s crew and passengers were safe. The truth could not have been more different.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
A lucky few survivors sit in shock on one of the rescue ships. Wikimedia Commons.

4. Just 330 bodies were recovered from the disaster – with 3 in 4 victims lost to the ocean forever.

Just 1 in 4 Titanic victims were found. For several days after the liner sunk, four different ships patrolled the waters around the spot where the ship went down. In all, they pulled 334 bodies from the ocean. Of these, 150 were transported to Canada and then given a proper burial in the city of Halifax. Notably, around half of the bodies remained unidentified – almost all of them of Steerage class passengers. Indeed, while the bodies of First Class passengers were placed in coffins and embalmed, Third Class victims were wrapped in cloth and placed in an icy storerooms.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
A survivor of the Titanic was persuaded to re-live the nightmare for the cameras. Pinterest.

3. The first disaster movie about the Titanic was released just 29 days later – and it starred a genuine survivor.

It took less than a month between the Titanic sinking and the first movie about the disaster to be released. Luckily for the producers of Saved from the Titanic, a professional actress had been aboard the doomed liner on its maiden voyage. The American Dorothy Gibson escaped on Lifeboat 7, along with her mother. The silent movie, in which Gibson wore the exact white silk evening dress as she had been wearing when the Titanic went down, was an international hit. However, the film was destroyed in a fire in 1914, one of the great losses of the silent film era.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
The wreck of the Titanic will probably be gone in 20 years. News Tribune.

2. The wreck of the Titanic was eventually found in 1985 but it may soon be gone for good as it rusts away.

It took many years for the wreck of the Titanic to be found – perhaps not so surprising given that when it was found in 1985, it was around 13 miles away from the last coordinates given by the doomed crew. That 1985 expedition revealed that the Titanic had indeed split in two and not gone down whole as had previously been believed. Sadly, given the depth (3,700 meters) and the immense water pressure, it’s highly unlikely that the Titanic will ever be brought to the surface. The wreck is slowly deteriorating and will one day be gone for good.

40 Facts about the Titanic They Definitely Didn’t Teach Us in the Movie
Elizabeth Gladys Dean, was just a baby when she escaped the sinking Titanic. Belfast Telegraph.

1. The last survivor of the Titanic disaster – who was just 2 months old at the time – only died in 2009.

The last survivor of the Titanic disaster died just a decade ago, in May 2019. Elizabeth Gladys Dean, sometimes known as Millvina, was just 8 weeks old when the ship went down. She was travelling with her parents in Third Class. Notably, the family weren’t even supposed to be on the doomed liner but a coal strike made them change their travel plans at the very last minute. Dean, her mother and brother all survived after being put onto Lifeboat 10. Her father, however, was lost in the tragedy and his body never recovered.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Tribute to the men who died building Titanic.” Belfast News-Letter, July 2012.

“How Much Did It Cost to Build the Titanic?” James Turk, FGMR, January 2019.

“The Titanic and underwater wine aging” By The Glass, By Sherwin A. Lao, January 18, 2018.

“Titanic: Some Honeymoon!” the Belfast Telegraph, March 2012.

“Titanic’s Mail.” Smithsonian, National Post Museum, March 1992.

“This is where the Titanic was at this time exactly 100 years ago.” The Journal, April 2012.

“The Iceberg that Sank the Titanic.” BBC History.

“Unseen Titanic” National Geographic. HAMPTON SIDES.

“Ireland Marks the 100th Anniversary of Titanic Sinking” Discovering Ireland.

“Why the Titanic Still Fascinates Us.” Smithsonian Magazine.

The Titanic Historical Society Inc.

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