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Newspapers in education: Titanic, past and present, week 5

This article has been specially written for thousands of pupils from across Northern Ireland who are doing the Belfast Telegraph cross-curricular project on Titanic. Over a six-week period we will focus on the iconic ship which was built in Belfast.

Tragedy strikes on cold, fateful night in Atlantic

The Titanic set sail from Queenstown (Cobh) in Ireland to New York in America at 1.30pm on April 11, 1912, with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board.

Little did they know what would happen four days into the ship's journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

At 11.40pm on April 14, the Titanic struck an iceberg, with water coming into a boiler room and the mail sorting room. Just after midnight Captain Smith told radio operators to call for assistance and by 12.25am on April 15 an order had been passed to load the lifeboats.

There were only 20 lifeboats on board with a capacity of 1,178, so not enough for everyone on board.

Some people did not understand how dangerous the situation was, feeling that because they were on the Titanic, the ship would not sink.

The crew were told that women and children were to be put on lifeboats first, yet many wives decided not to go aboard, opting to stay with their husbands.

Lifeboats were not full when they left the Titanic. As the lifeboats were rowed away from the sinking ship those on board could only watch as the Titanic plunged into the sea with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

By dawn all of the lifeboats had been picked up by RMS Carpathia, with just over 700 surviving the disaster.

At nine weeks old, Millvina Dean was one of the youngest survivors. Her family, who were third-class passengers, were travelling to America to start a new life. In 2009 Millvina, the last living survivor, passed away aged 97.

In Belfast, where the Titanic had been built at the Harland & Wolff shipyard, there was an outpouring of sadness and grief, with memorial services taking place on Sunday, April 21, 1912, throughout the city.

Following the sinking of the Titanic inquiries were held and they recommended changes to maritime regulations. That led to the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which still governs maritime safety today.

Each week we will write about  various people with a connection to the Titanic. Today we feature Margaret Brown

One of the passengers to survive the Titanic disaster was a lady who became known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown".

Born on July 18, 1867 as Margaret Tobin, she would go on to have a Broadway musical and Hollywood movie made about her.

Margaret, originally from Missouri in the United States of America, married James Joseph Brown in 1886. He became one of the most successful men in the mining industry in the country.

In 1894 the Browns bought a house in Denver where Margaret was a founder member of a club in the city which supported reading and writing, education, women's rights and human rights across the USA.

She also raised funds to help poor children and establish the first Juvenile Court in the country, which became the basis for the juvenile court system in America today.

This extraordinary lady also entered politics, running for the Senate eight years before women even had the right to vote.

Travelling around Europe at the time, Mrs Brown boarded the Titanic in Cherbourg, France, after hearing word that her first grandchild was ill.

After the ship struck an iceberg, Margaret was on hand to help many people into lifeboats before being told to board one herself. It is said she told the crew of her lifeboat to return to where the ship sank and look for survivors.

On Carpathia, the ship that rescued Titanic survivors from the lifeboats in the ocean, she set up a Committee for Survivors and raised $10,000 for the poorest people on board by the time they reached New York.

She stayed on board Carpathia until all Titanic survivors had met with friends or family or were given medical assistance.

Her deeds became the stuff of legend and she used her new found fame to speak about the rights for workers and women and education and literacy for children. In the First World War (1914-1918) she worked with wounded French and American soldiers and in 1932 was awarded the French Legion of Honour 'for good citizenship'.

Margaret died later that year on October 26 in New York. Margaret was never known as 'Molly'. The name was an invention by writers and was the basis for the 1960 Broadway play The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which later was made into a film of the same name starring renowned Hollywood actress Debbie Reynolds, who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Mrs Brown.

Belfast Telegraph

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