Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Strange Tale

One of the great things about walking around London is the sheer joy of discovery that can be experienced as you explore the old streets.

The other day I was walking along one of the roads to the south of the River Thames when I came across the London Nautical School.

Popping in to the front pitch I was able to read a little of it's history and discovered that it was founded in 1915, as a direct result of the official report into the Titanic Disaster. Titanic. The School's stated aim is "to educate and prepare pupils to meet the needs of society either at sea or in any other occupation where responsibility, attention to duty and regard for others are valued equally with academic and practical skills."

Mention of the Titanic got me thinking about W.T.Stead, the pioneering investigative journalist who was very much involved in the reporting on the Jack the Ripper case of 1888.

Stead was a committed Spiritualist who, between 1893 and 1897 ran a journal entitled borderland In which he discussed his interest in psychical research extensively.

Now you might be wondering how the London Nautical School got me thinking about W.T Stead?

Well, as it happens, Stead was also a great peace campaigner in which capacity he was invited to speak at a peace conference at Carnegie Hall in 1915.

As it happened he chose to cross the Atlantic on the maiden voyage of the unsinkable Titanic and the rest, as they say, is history.

After the Titanic hit the iceberg, Stead helped several women and children into the lifeboats, after which he went into the 1st Class Smoking Room, where he was last seen sitting in a leather chair and reading a book.

A later witness claimed to have seen him in the sea clinging to a raft until the freezing water compelled him to let go. His body was never recovered.

Interestingly Stead had always maintained that he would die either by lynching or by drowning. There have also been claims that he may have even predicted his own death in two works.On In March 1886, he published an article named "How the Mail Steamer Went Down in Mid-Atlantic, by a Survivor," in which he wrote of a steamer colliding with another ship, with high loss of life due to lack of lifeboats. Stead had added,"This is exactly what might take place and will take place if liners are sent to sea short of boats". In 1892, Stead published another story entitled "From the Old World to the New" in which a vessel, the Majestic, rescues survivors of another ship that had collided with an iceberg.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Richard. Didn't have this name on my directory. Thanks for pointing him out. Great article (as always).