Wakefield & District Family History Society
On Saturday the 1st September Sheila Dixon gave a talk on ‘The Titanic and the Yorkshire Connection.’ She reminded us that 2012 is the year that commemorates the centenary of the sinking of what was then the biggest ship ever built.
It is well known that the ship was built at the Harland & Wollf shipyard in Belfast however what is not as well known is that Edmund James Harland was born in Scarborough on the east coast of Yorkshire.
The owners of the White Star shipping company were aware of the lucrative transatlantic routes to the United States from Europe and were determined to increase their share of it. A decision was made to build the biggest and most luxurious liner and not to compete on speed.
Sheila demonstrated with the aid of photographic slides that showed not only the building of the Titanic and her sister ships the Olympic but also some of the sumptuous
accommodation enjoyed by first class passengers, while second class passengers also had more than satisfactory accommodation and how the third class had rather confined berths.
Sheila then proceeded to demonstrate how she went about her research. Of the 2200 people on board about 30 had a link with Yorkshire. However records such as passenger lists were often incomplete or had not survived or were found to be inaccurate. Survivors’ accounts helped as did articles from newspapers. Three people with links to Yorkshire were chosen. One such was Thomas Roussel David Byles from Leeds. He came from a religious background, his father being a Congregational minister but Thomas chose to became a Roman Catholic priest. At the age of 42 he had bought a second class ticket in order to sail to New York and officiate at his brother’s wedding.
It was reported that he often ministered to 3rd class passengers and was seen to help people board life boats in order to escape the stricken ship. Unfortunately he did not survive.
George Alfred Hogg aged 29 came from Hull. He was a seaman who had the position of Lookout which meant he had to take shifts in the crow’s nest. However on the night that the Titanic struck the iceberg he was not on lookout duty but asleep in his cabin. On awaking he was put in charge of a lifeboat and he therefore managed to survive.
Charles William Hogg aged 43 no relation, was a bedroom steward from York. He did not survive.
Sheila’s talk was well received and was she able to demonstrate how fascinating her research had proved to be but also how difficult it had been. She hopes to have a book published in the near future when her research is complete.
The next meeting is 6th October when we have our ‘Research Morning.’ This enables visitors to access the Society’s resources and speak to our experts.
All enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310