Prime Titanic menu makes £100k at auction

April 23, 2018 by

A menu of the first meal ever served aboard the Titanic has fetched £100,000 at auction. The lunch, including consommé mirrette, sweetbreads and spring lamb, was served to officers on the first day of sea trials on 2 April 1912.

It belonged to Second Officer Charles Lightoller, the most senior crew member to survive, who gave it to his wife as he left Southampton on 10 April 1912. It was sold to a British collector at the auction at Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire on Saturday.

Andrew Aldridge, from the firm, said: “We are delighted with the results of the auction and think the rarity of the objects is reflected in the prices which illustrates the ongoing fascination with the story of the Titanic.”

He said items had been snapped up by collectors in “all four corners of the globe”.

On 2 April, on Titanic’s first day of sea trials, officers and crew enjoyed their first meal served in the main dining saloon before being joined by the passengers.

The menu was given to Charles Lightoller’s wife as a souvenir as he departed from Southampton on 10 April 1912

Mr Aldridge said it was believed only one other example of a 2 April menu had survived, which belonged to Titanic’s Fifth Officer Harold Lowe. “He wrote a notation on the bottom ‘this is first meal ever served on board’ however the bottom of the Lowe menu was removed,” he said.

“So this [the Charles Lightoller menu] is believed to be the only complete example and is one of the most important examples of its type in existence today.”

The Lowe menu sold at auction for £28,000 in 2004.

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Ironic performance of Titanic Musical

April 13, 2018 by


Titanic the musical was being performed in Southampton for the first  time.  The opening night performance of the musical had to be abandoned after debris fell onto the stage during the opening night night performance.

Audience members at the Mayflower Theatre said items began falling shortly after the scene in which the ship hits the iceberg. An announcer said the show was being halted for “health and safety reasons”.

The Southampton run coincides with the 106th anniversary of Titanic’s maiden voyage from the city in April 1912.  Associate producer Michael Ockwell said: “You couldn’t make it up… the irony isn’t lost on us.”

A theatre spokesman said plaster from a backstage wall had fallen on to the stage but it was “not a major structural issue”. “With the safety of the cast in mind, we made the sensible decision to cancel the second act of the show,” he added.Theatre-goers were told the show was being abandoned

Claire Cleaver, who was attending Thursday’s show with her niece, said she initially thought it was an on-stage effect. “It was quite frightening at first as we didn’t know what was going on but the Mayflower handled it very well and there was no panic,” she added.

“It’s very ironic being the first showing of the Titanic musical and then the show itself sinking. It was a fantastic show, it was so disappointing.”The theatre said no-one was injured and Friday evening’s performance was expected to go ahead as planned following repair work.

During the ten-day run – its first in Southampton – a special midnight performance coinciding with the time the ship sank in April 1912 is due to take place on Saturday. Titanic the Musical opened on Broadway in 1997 and has won Tony Awards including best musical and best score.

Titanic ticket

Titanic Maiden Voyage Ticket Southampton – New York

Titanic launch ticket for sale

April 13, 2018 by

Auctioneers expect rare Titanic launch ticket to sell for £25k  An unused ticket for the launch of the Titanic – described as an “exceptional piece of Belfast history” – is expected to fetch up to £25,000 at auction.


Remembering Joseph Bell

April 12, 2018 by

It is 106 years ago on the 15th April 2018, that Joseph Bell & his engineers died heroically fighting to postpone the sinking of R M S Titanic.  In memory of  all those who died trying to do so, a wreath of flowers has been laid at the Joseph Bell memorial headstone in Farlam.

Joseph Bell Chief Engineer of the Titanic, died at his post in the engine room with his fellow engineers.  As the Titanic began to flood, engineers worked tirelessly on the electrical  systems to keep the lights and pumps operational, as well as provide power to the ship’s radio that was sending out the ‘Mayday’ distress signal.  Without their sacrifice, many more lives would have been lost.

The wreck of R.M.S. Titanic rests on the Atlantic Ocean floor at a depth of 3800m or [12,467 ft] off the coast of Newfoundland.  Titanic had completed 1,451 miles of the 1,901 miles of her total intended journey before she sank.




Below some of the Titanic engineers, it’s thought that Joseph Bell is the one

seated in the centre of the front row.

Titanic Engineers







April 1, 2018 by

As we approach this 106th Anniversary of the sinking of R.M.S. Titanic on April 15th 1912, it is worth recalling all who made up the engineering department in their various rolls on the night of the 15th April 1912, under the supervision of the Chief Engineer Joseph Bell. Their heroic human endeavour will never be forgotten.

 The engineering crew, who were responsible for keeping the engines, generators, and other mechanical equipment on the Titanic working efficiently, had the education and technical expertise to operate, maintain, and repair the engineering plant – they were consequentially the highest paid members of the crew.

Shortly after leaving Southampton, a fire was discovered in the coalbunker of No 6 Boiler Room and coal trimmers were detailed to trace the source of the fire and extinguish it.

On the night of 14 April, the Second Engineering Officer John Henry Hesketh the senior engineer on duty, and Leading Fireman Frederick Barrett were in No 6 Boiler inspecting the coal bunker and confirming the fire was out when the Titanic struck the iceberg at 11.40 pm. It ripped this part of the ship and the pair escaped through the connecting tunnel to No 5 Boiler Room, closing the bulkhead doors. Barrett later gave evidence at the Southampton Enquiry.

Most of the engineering crew remained below decks in the engine and boiler rooms: some fighting a losing battle to keep the ship afloat by operating the pumps in the forward compartments as well as keeping the steam up in the boiler rooms, to prevent boiler explosion on contact with the water; and others keeping the generators running to maintain power and lights throughout Titanic up until two minutes before the ship sank. It is considered that their actions delayed the sinking for over an hour and helped keep the ship afloat long enough for nearly all the lifeboats to be launched. Some of the men working downstairs were killed when seawater flooded this section as the ship hit the iceberg.

Titanic employed 25 engineers, as well as eight electricians and two boilermakers and all were lost as were 13 leading firemen (Stoker Foremen) and 163 firemen (Stokers). The ship had 29 boilers, each containing three furnaces for a total of 159 furnaces. Each fireman was assigned one boiler and three furnaces. Of the Titanic’s six boiler rooms, each leading fireman was assigned to two of them with 10 to 15 firemen under him. Next to each boiler was a coal chute that deposited coal from the overhead coalbunkers, and a fireman with a shovel would constantly feed coal into the three furnaces. Shifts for all the firemen and their foremen were four hours on and eight hours off. The heat in the boiler rooms usually exceeded 120 °F (49 °C), so a four-hour shift was very demanding. Most of the firemen worked wearing only their vests and shorts. Of the firemen, only three leading firemen and around 45 other firemen survived. Several of the firemen who survived got into the lifeboats dressed only in their vests and shorts in 28 °F (−2 °C) weather. 73 trimmers, or coal trimmers, were on the Titanic. Of the engineering crew, the trimmers were paid the least and had probably the worst job of the crew. The trimmers worked inside the coalbunkers located on top of and between the boilers. The trimmers used shovels and wheelbarrows to move coal around the bunker to keep the coal level, and to shovel the coal down the coal chute to the firemen below to shovel it into the furnaces. If too much coal built up on one side of a coalbunker, the ship would actually list to that side. All the residual heat from the boilers rose up into the coal bunkers, and inside, the bunkers were poorly lighted, full of coal dust, and extremely hot from the boilers. Around 20 of them survived.

The 33 greasers worked in the turbine and reciprocating engine rooms alongside the engineers and they were responsible for maintaining and supplying oil and lubricants for all the mechanical equipment. Only four of them survived. There were six mess hall stewards. These men worked in the crew’s kitchen to cook and serve food for the crew: four served the engineering crew; two served the deck crew. Just one steward from engineering survived.



Website Review 2017

January 2, 2018 by

The number of views and users of the website has been consistent compared to previous years, and thank you for your enduring interest in Joseph Bell.

The top ten countries in user terms for 2017 were:

U.S.A. , United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, Italy, France, Portugal, Netherlands and New Zealand.

For those who may not have viewed the following, they have been the top ten items:

About Joseph Bell, Home page/archives, Bell family tree, Extract; Everyman for himself, Gallery: Bell family biography, Innovator White star line, Titanic divot, Gallery: Bell family images and Joseph Bell Engineers report R.M.S. Olympic.



R.M.S. Titanic: Timeline Chronology

December 1, 2017 by


  • 31 March 1909: Laid down
  • 31 May 1911: Launched
  • 31 March 1912: Completed
  • 2 April 1912: Sea trials (Belfast Lough and the Irish Sea)
  • 12.15, 10 April 1912: Sailed from Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York via Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland
  • 18.35, 10 April 1912: Arrived Cherbourg
  • 20.10, 10 April 1912: Sailed from Cherbourg
  • 11.30, 11 April 1912: Arrived Queenstown
  • 13.30, 11 April 1912: Sailed from Queenstown
  • 09.00, 14 April 1912: First ice warning, received from Caronia
  • 23.40, 14 April 1912: Collision with iceberg
  • 00.45, 15 April 1912: Wireless call for assistance, first transmission, using code CQD. Transmission altered to the new code SOS, first use of this code by a passenger liner.
  • 02.10, 15 April 1912: Last transmission
  • 02.20, 15 April 1912: Titanic foundered
  • 04.10, 15 April 1912: First lifeboat picked up by Carpathia
  • 21.25, 18 April 1912: Carpathia docked in New York
  • 1 September 1985: Titanic wreck site located, approx 2.5 miles below the Atlantic, by a joint French/USA expedition



Titanic Tablet Memorial Greenwich

November 10, 2017 by


It was her engineers who kept the lights burning, and in the list of heroes who went down with the vessel the names of the men of the engineering force will have a high place. Not one of them was saved, although many of them were off duty, and these had some chance of climbing to the deck. While it will never be known just what happened, it is believed that every one went back to his post instead of to the decks. ~ The New York Times, Tuesday 23 April 1912

Beyond the immediate traumatic circumstances and bereavement, for the families of the engineers there was an immediate financial impact from the sinking of the Titanic. Families had lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother.  Widows were left with children to raise and homes to run, in the midst of their own personal loss and grief, deprived of the only income the family received.  Recognising the plight of the bereaved families of the engineers a fund was established by the Daily Chronicle newspaper. The Institute of Marine Engineers, the professional body of marine engineers, was appointed to administer the fund.

The fund, the Guild of Benevolence, shared the monies amongst the families and descendants of the engineers. The Titanic Engineers were amongst the Institute’s members and their loss was keenly felt amongst their fellow engineers. Seeking to recognise the bravery and heroism of their colleagues lost aboard the Titanic, the Institute of Marine Engineers commissioned a memorial recording the names of the engineers lost aboard the Titanic. Today, the Guild’s remit has widened to provide relief and support to the widows and descendants of marine engineers who would otherwise have no other means of financial support. It is the only charity in existence today with direct connections to the charitable response to the Titanic disaster.

The Institute of Marine Engineers memorial is in the form a large, decorative bronze plaque. The memorial carries the following inscription:

This tablet is dedicated to the memory of the engine room staff of the S.S. “Titanic” who gave their lives at the post of duty when the vessel sank after striking an iceberg on April 15th, 1912.

 Joseph Bell, Chief Engineer. Alfred S. Allsop, George A. Chisnall, Francis E. G. Coy, Henry P. Creese, Edward C. Dodd, Renney W. Dodd, William L. Duffy, Henry R. Dyer, Alfred G. Ervine, W. E. Farquharson, Hugh Fitzpatrick, James Fraser, Norman Harrison, Herbert G. Harvey, J. H. Hesketh, Charles Hodge, Leonard Hodgkinson, George. F. Hosking, Herbert Jupe, William Kelly, Thomas H. Kemp, W. D. Mackie, William Mc. Reynolds, William Y. Moyes, Alfred P. Middleton, Robert Miller, Thomas Miller, Frank Parsons, Arthur J. Rous, Jonathan Shepherd, Peter Sloan, James M. Smith, Arthur Ward, Bertie Wilson.


The base of the memorial is inscribed by the name of the sculptor, Scottish artist George Alexander (1881-1942). The memorial dates from 1916. It was originally on permanent display in the foyer of the Institute of Marine Engineers Memorial Building at 76 Mark Lane in the City of London. The Institute moved from the building to 80 Coleman Street in 1999, whereupon the Memorial Building was demolished to make way for 78 Fenchurch Street, a 16-floor office block building.

The memorial was subsequently loaned to the National Maritime Museum and it was put on display during the summer of 2013. The memorial can be found on the southwest stairwell between the first floor ‘Traders’ gallery and second floor ‘Ships of War’ gallery.

Description: On top of the memorial a relief of Neptune’s head flanked by polar bears. Within a broken pediment a relief of the sinking vessel. The inscription is flanked by two reliefs of engineer officers. On the base of the memorial, a roundel with the Institute badge and the legend: ‘INSTITUTE OF MARINE ENGINEERS’. This is surrounded by a globe, compass rose and rivits. It is enclosed by laurel branches.
Type: Wall memorial
Materials: Bronze
Artists: George Alexander
Vessel: RMS Titanic

Notes: George Alexander (1881-1942. The memorial was erected with part of a fund set up by the Institute and the ‘Daily Chronicle’ to help the families of the engineer officers on ‘Titanic’. On loan to the Museum from the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology, Mark Lane, London, England.

Engine Department Heroes

October 28, 2017 by

The organisational structure of Titanic had been established over many centuries, and so the traditional trades that were hired for Titanic were mostly indentified as being appropriate for either THE DECK DEPARTMENT, ENGINE DEPARTMENT OR VICTUALLING DEPARTMENT.

The Engine Department was the youngest department and had only been established since the introduction of artificial propulsion for ships, in the case of steam c.1838. Steam was responsible for the generation of energy for the ship’s engines and electrical power with Titanic’s Engine Department being staffed by 325 men, 36% of the total Titanic crew. 253 of the Engine Department lost their lives.

Chief Engineer Joseph Bell headed the Engine Department with Senior Second Engineer William Edward Farquharson as his representative. The importance that White Star placed in the engine department is illustrated by the wages and conditions that were agreed. The engineers had, besides their own mess, a separate smoking room on the boat deck and their own promenade section.

Chief Engineer Bell had the largest cabin with bedroom and living quarters. He was the only member of the crew besides the captain to have his own bath.

Besides Captain Smith who received an annual salary of £1250 approx, there were about fifty men aboard Titanic who earned £10 or more monthly, twenty-two of them were in the Engine Department. Joseph Bell as chief engineer, and Senior Second Engineer William Edward Farquharson, his representative, were paid £35 and £22 monthly respectively. Joseph Bell was in charge of the entire Engine Department, and Farquharson was responsible for the engine-room men analogous to the jurisdiction of the chief officer in the Deck Department. The wages bill for a round trip from Southampton to New York for thirty days, for the Engine Department, would be £1506.00

The collision with the iceberg in the night hours made new demands of an organisation that was running a normal routine. The crew did their jobs; not like the daily routine but for the first time an emergency drill that was the real thing. Not all knew how they were supposed to act in this situation, they just did what they must have considered to be their duty, and we know that they were also heroes.

Six hundred and eighty-seven crew members did not survive that night. Almost 46 per cent of all Titanic lives lost belonged to the crew.

For those who would like further information please see  “Guide to the Crew of Titanic” by Gunter Babler, 2017.

Joseph Bell Memorial St Faith's Church Crosby Merseyside

Joseph Bell Memorial in St Faith’s Church, Crosby, Merseyside. Funded by his wife Maud Bell, and unveiled on 6th January 1913


Sale of recovered final letter

October 23, 2017 by

Mr Alexander Oskar  Holverson and his wife Mary were passengers on R.M.S. Titanic, Mr Holverson died but his wife was rescued.  The letter written on the 12th but dated the 13th of April by Mr Holverson to his mother for posting on arrival in New York, was found in his pocket book on his  subsequently recovered  body.

The letter stained by saltwater from the Atlantic Oceon and embossed with the White Star emblem, has to be the vey last letter written aboard Titanic.  Mr Holverson’s letter was eventually delivered to its intended recipient his mother.  The family decided to sell the letter at an auction that was held on the 21st of October ’17.  An unknown purchaser paid the sum of £126000.00 pounds for the letter.