Twenty top Titanic facts
Discover the fate of this infamous ship…
Titanic – the iconic vessel that came to a very tragic end. But how much do you know about this world-famous ship? It’s time to find out in our twenty top Titanic facts!
2) And she was no ordinary ship, Titanic was the most impressive and luxurious ship of her time! She was the biggest, too, measuring 28 metres wide, 53 metres tall and 269 metres long — that’s about the length of three football fields!
3) On 10 April 1912, Titanic set out on her maiden voyage (first big journey), taking people from Southampton, England, to New York, USA. On route, she called by Cherbourg in France and Queenstown in Ireland to pick up more passengers.
DID YOU KNOW?
Boats are traditionally referred to as ‘she’. Historians think this may be the result of links in our language to Ancient English. Or perhaps it dates back to the idea of goddesses protecting ships on dangerous journeys!
4) Titanic’s full title was RMS Titanic. Any idea what RMS means? It stands for ‘Royal Mail Steamer’. As well as passengers, the ship carried nearly 3,500 sacks of letters, packages and documents.
5) There were over 2,200 people on board Titanic, 900 of which were crew members. The passengers included holiday makers, business men and people hoping to start a new life in America.
6) Life on board Titanic depended on who you were and how much money you had…
First class: the wealthiest people travelled in first class, located at the top of the ship, and boy did they travel in style! They slept in private, spacious suites and enjoyed delicious food in an elaborate dining room. They had access to lots of facilities, like cafes, a swimming pool, squash courts, barber shop and a reading and writing room.
Second class: not too shabby, either, second class accommodation consisted of cabins with two or four beds and a sofa, storage facilities, a sink and a mirror. Second class passengers could also enjoy an outdoor promenade, relaxation room, library and dining room.
Third class: the third class facilities were much more basic, but they were still far better than those on other boats at that time. Located at the bottom of the ship, cabins slept up to ten people and each had a sink and mirror. There was also a dining room where food was served three times a day. But the big down side? All 700 third class passengers had to share two bathtubs!
7) For four days, Titanic made good progress across the Atlantic, powered by three coal-burning engines. But it was no easy job to keep her moving. Each day, the ship’s 175 ‘fire men’ shovelled 600 tonnes of coal into the furnaces — that’s the weight of 100 elephants!
8) Titanic was also known as the ‘Ship of Dreams’, and White Star Line claimed she was the safest ship of all time. To make sure she wouldn’t sink, her hull was made up of 16 separate sections. If two, or even three sections were damaged and water got in, the ship would still have time to sail to safety. So all good, right? Wrong…
9) Just before midnight on day five, in the freezing cold North Atlantic Ocean, an iceberg loomed out of the darkness. Too big to quickly change direction, Titanic scraped along the side of the ice, tearing holes in at least four sections of the hull. Uh oh…
10) The Captain of Titanic – Edward John Smith – and his crew knew that the collision meant disaster; Titanic would sink in just a few hours. Distress signals were sent out to nearby ships and passengers were ordered to get to the lifeboats, fast!
11) But there was one very big problem. Titanic only carried twenty lifeboats — only enough to hold around half of the people on board! What’s worse, the first lifeboats were launched half-empty, wasting precious spaces. In panic, many people jumped into the ocean to escape the sinking ship!
12) As Titanic sank, the stern (the front) went down first, causing the bow (the back) to rise out of the water and into the air. At around 2am, this tilt caused the ship to break in two, sending all those still on board into the freezing cold ocean…
13) In the -2°C waters, most passengers who went into the sea would have died from the cold within 15 minutes. Some managed to survive a little longer by treading water or clinging onto bits of floating wreckage.
14) The first ship to respond to Titanic’s distress signals was called the RMS Carpathia. But despite setting out immediately and travelling at top speed, she didn’t arrive until around 3.30am — over an hour after the Titanic had sunk.
15) On arrival at the disaster, the RMS Carpathia rescued those who had made it into the lifeboats. There were around 705 survivors in total, and all were transported safely to New York, USA.
16) But tragically, more than 1,500 people lost their lives on the Titanic, most never to be seen again. In the days following the wreckage, ships headed out to the disaster area and recovered 300 bodies from the water. These were either buried at sea or taken to Halifax in Canada (the nearest major port) to be identified.
17) Despite many attempts to find the wreck, Titanic remained hidden from the world for around 70 years. It wasn’t until 1985 that she was seen again — when oceanographer (a sea scientist) Dr Robert Ballard set out on a deep-sea mission in the Argo, a robot submarine. The team discovered Titanic on the seabed, nearly 600km off the coast of Canada.
18) Since then, there have been many expeditions to Titanic – and over 6,000 interesting items have been salvaged from the wreckage. These can be seen today in museums around the world and include jewellery, perfumes, plates, clothes, furniture and even lunch menus!
19) The longest living survivor from Titanic was Millvina Dean, who lived to be 97 years old. She was just a baby when she, her mother and brother made it into one of the lifeboats. Millvina lived to tell the tragic tale until 2009, when she passed away.
20) There have been lots of documentaries and movies made about Titanic. The first was a silent movie called Saved from the Titanic, made just one month after the disaster. The most popular today is the 1997 Hollywood blockbuster Titanic, which became one of the highest-earning movies of all time!
Did you know that we have a FREE downloadable Titanic primary resource? Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike!
Would you have survived Titanic?
So, now you know all about this incredible ship and its tragic tale. But here’s the big question: if you had been on board, would you have survived? It all depends on who you were…
– YOU were a woman or child: Women and children were allowed to board the lifeboats first. However, some men did get a place when the first few lifeboats didn’t fill up.
– YOU were rich: First-class passengers were lucky — they had cabins on the upper decks, closest to the lifeboats. Many poorer passengers, in ‘steerage’ class on the lower decks, didn’t reach the lifeboat deck in time.
– YOU obeyed orders: If you had got into a lifeboat as soon as the crew told you to, you would probably have survived. Remember that, next time you’re on a ship!
– YOU were brave: Many people were too scared to leave the big ship for the tiny lifeboats. Others stayed on board because they didn’t want to lose sight of their friends or family. To survive, you needed the courage to go for it.
– YOU were willing to push: In the final struggle for lifeboat places, those who pushed, won!
– YOU had stamina: Some survivors were plucked from the icy water after hanging onto bits of floating wreckage for more than half an hour. They had clung on to life!
Photos and Illustrations: Getty Images UK