REPORTING FROM LONDON -– One hundred years ago, the people of the English port city of Southampton watched and waved as the greatest ship of its time sailed away to New York carrying more than 1,500 cheering passengers and crew.
On Tuesday, the city remembered the Titanic, which five days after setting sail on its maiden voyage struck an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic, killing most of those aboard.
Several hundred descendants, relatives and residents of the maritime city that was home to most of the 650 crew and more than 500 of the victims gathered for a moving ceremony to pay tribute those who were killed on the night of April 15, 1912.
Many threw wreaths onto the sea from berth 43 and 44, where the Titanic slipped its moorings at midday April 10, 1912. A minute’s silence was held and at midday, a recording of the original ship’s whistle resounded, and a tribute read by Fred Dinenage, whose great-uncle James Richard Dinenage, a first-class steward, went down with the ship.
A brief religious ceremony for the victims ended with the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee," said to be the last music played by the orchestra on the ship as it went down.
A procession of children holding placards with pictures of the crew paraded through the streets to a new museum called Sea City, which chronicles Southampton’s links to ocean trade and travel and hosts an exhibition of Titanic documents and memorabilia.
Other events and exhibitions are ongoing around Britain. A new Titanic complex has just opened in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where a three-week festival is underway evoking Belfast’s life as a shipbuilding center of the early 1900s with music, plays and lectures on the city and the building of the doomed ship that was meant to be the pride and joy of the White Star Line company and shipbuilders Harland and Wolff.
And on Sunday, the cruise liner Balmoral set sail from Southampton to New York on a memorial cruise to retrace Titanic’s route via Cherbourg in France and Cobh in southern Ireland to the spot where it sank about 460 miles off the coast of Canada.
After heavy winds off the Irish coast delayed its arrival in Cobh, the Balmoral is now sailing across the Atlantic. Several of the 1,309 passengers on board –- said to be the original number booked aboard the Titanic -- include relatives of those on the original passenger list.
-- Janet Stobart