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Fascinating Titanic facts – 3

* The First Movie About The Sinking Was Released 29 Days After the Titanic Sank

The Titanic disaster has captured the imagination of many film makers for decades spawning films such as Roy Ward Baker’s A Night To Remember and James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic and the first film to document and dramatise the events of the sinking was released a mere 29 days after the ship had sunk.

Saved From The Titanic starred a young actress, Dorothy Gibson, who had actually been on board the Titanic and survived the disaster. The film sees Gibson playing herself and telling fictionalised versions of her parents and fiancé about her ordeal on the ship. Real life footage of ice bergs and of Titanic’s nearly identical sister ship, Olypmic, were used in the film and Gibson added to the authenticity of the film by wearing the same dress she had worn on the night of the sinking.

Sadly, the psychological strain of the sinking and re-living it for the film really took its toll on Gibson and she suffered a mental breakdown not long after the film’s release.

* Only Three Of Titanic’s Four Funnels Were Real

The Titanic’s mighty engines were powered by large coal-burning furnaces and these furnaces produced smoke and excess steam that needed to be safely ventilated away from the ship. This was achieved through the use of funnels or Smokestacks and the Titanic’s design, with four funnels towering above its decks, is one that is instantly recognisable around the globe. However, only three of its four funnels actually worked with the forth being added for aesthetic purposes.

Titanic 2

Titanic 2

When building the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic, The White Star Line wanted to break its rival Cunard’s record for the largest passenger liners afloat. Cunard held that title with its ships Lusitania and Mauritania, both of which had four funnels. When designing the Titanic, White Star knew they could have no less funnels than their rivals for fears that the ships would not look as big or that potential passengers may think that less funnels meant less speed.

* After Titanic, The White Star Line Built A Bigger Version, Which Also Sank

After the tragedy of the Titanic’s sinking, The White Star Line reviewed the design of the planned third Olympic-Class liner, the Britannic. The ship was now to include the addition of a double hull and the raising of the ship’s watertight bulkheads, from E deck all the way up to B deck. The Britannic also had added lifeboat capacity and a far superior method of launching them in the form of new motorised davits. The Britannic would carry lifeboats with enough space for 3,600 people, more than the maximum capacity of crew and passengers that the ship could accommodate.

The Britannic was launched in February 1914 and following the outbreak of the first world war later that year, she entered service as a hospital ship to serve the eastern Mediterranean. Britannic was repainted white with a green stripe and large red crosses to identify her as a hospital ship and not a war ship. On her 6th mission to rescue injured troupes, Britannic hit a mine off the coast of the Greek Island of Kea and sank in 55 minutes, under half the time it took the Titanic to sink, with a loss of 30 lives.

Interestingly, Violet Jessop, a lady working as a nurse aboard the Britannic, was also on the Titanic when it sank and survived both disasters.

Fascinating Titanic facts – 2

* The Titanic Was On Fire When She Set Sail

In stark contrast to the iceberg that caused the Titanic to sink, the ship also came under attack from another natural hazard in the form of a fire.

Upon setting sail from her birthplace of Belfast to collect passengers in Southampton, a fire broke out in one of the Titanic’s reserve coal bunkers and continued to burn throughout the ship’s maiden voyage despite the crews best efforts to extinguish it. The fire was finally defeated on the 13th April 1912, the day before Titanic struck the iceberg, by a combination of wetting the coal with a hose and transferring the burning coal to the ship’s furnaces.

Many theories have emerged over the years that the fire may have helped contribute to Titanic’s sinking by weakening the ship’s structure and the ship’s excess speed caused by the extra coal that was added to the furnaces. Whatever the impact, it seems strange to our 21st century minds that a passenger liner would be allowed to sail while a fire raged below decks. This, coupled with the lack of lifeboats the Titanic was carrying, only goes to show that health and safety was pretty much non-existent in 1912.

* The Titanic Had Some Very Strange Cargo Including Dragon’s Blood

As well as its 2224 passengers and crew, the Titanic was also carrying a vast assortment of cargo, which was as wide and varied as its passengers and ranged from cases of Champagne to a Renault Type CB Coupe De Ville. Perhaps one of the strangest items on the ship’s cargo list were 76 cases of ‘Dragon’s Blood’ – not quite as odd or as sinister as you might think, since is a name given to a bright red plant resin used for dye, medicine and incense.

Titanic burial at sea

Titanic burial at sea

Although the blood of fire breathing monsters was not actual aboard the ship, in the wake of the sinking all manor of rumours sprung up about magical and cursed items that had been hidden in the ship’s cargo hold. These rumours included that of a cursed mummy that had been smuggled aboard and that the curse had led to the ship’s sinking.

* There Were Only Two Bathtubs To Serve The Entire Third Class

While the Titanic’s First Class passengers enjoyed the luxury of spacious state-rooms, a swimming pool and turkish baths, the passengers in third class really had it rough. As if the cramped conditions and rats weren’t bad enough, there were only two bathtubs aboard to accommodate over seven hundred third class passengers.

While these conditions seem atrocious by our modern day standards, for 1912 they were considered amongst the best, and the third class accommodation on Titanic was even compared to second class accommodation aboard other ships. The Titanic even provided food for third class passengers while it was common in 1912 for third class passengers to be expected to bring their own food on ship voyages.