SOUTHAMPTON will forever be intrinsically linked with the most infamous of liners, Titanic, which sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912.
Of all the ships which have made the journey down the Solent and
away past the Isle of Wight, none have captured the imagination of the world more so than the White Star Line's flagship.
For years visitors to the ship"s home port have gorged themselves
on Titanic trivia and hunted out those locations with links, no
matter how small, to the passengers and crew.
Over the years pubs, hotels, shops and parks have been scoured
by tourists and residents alike, all searching for the whispering
voices of history which they hope will be able to reveal some
of Titanic"s secrets - and the stories of the 549 souls from Southampton that perished with the vessel.
Throughout Southampton those sites with a connection to the liner, on which 1,517 people died, can be visited on what has become known as the Titanic Trail.
The Titanic Trail
• Where the text below is green, click it to learn more about the place mentioned.
To begin exploring Titanic Southampton, it is best to begin down near Ocean Village, which in 1912 was the town’s main dockyard.
Standing at the entrance to Ocean Village on Canute Road, you find yourself in the heart of the town. If you were to head north or east from here, you would find yourself in Chapel and Northam which were many of the crew lived – although little remains of the tightly packed terraces many crew members called home.
However, if you head west along Canute Road within a few yards you will come to Canute Chambers. In 1912, this was the local offices of the White Star Line. Following the sinking this street was packed with relatives desperate to see if their loved ones had survived the tragedy. For days, the steps of Canute Chambers were besieged by hundreds of people eagerly awaiting any news that would trickle out.
Further along Canute Road, on the right hand side, you’ll come to South Western House. This ornate building was the hotel were many of the first class passengers stayed prior to the sailing, including the man who designed the ship and the owner of the White Star Line.
If you carry along the road, past Union Castle House, you’ll come to Dock Gate Four. This is where Titanic sailed from. Although you cannot go into berth 44 as it is still a working port, you can visit the Titanic memorial stone. The large red-brick Victorian building here is Admiralty House, and was the main post office for the docks and all of the mail on the ship came through this building.
If you return to South Western House, walk along Terminus Terrace and you’ll come to a casino which was Southampton Terminus rail station – the place where many passengers arrived in Southampton. Opposite is Oxford Street. Now mainly smart bars and restaurants this street lost more people than any other when Titanic sank. In total, 38 crew members gave Oxford Street as their address, with 29 perishing.
Along Oxford Street you’ll find The Grapes, Sailors Home and White Star Tavern, all of which played a part in the Titanic tale. Most famous of these is perhaps the three brothers who survived after spending too long in one of the establishments.
From Oxford Street, turn left down Latimer Street, heading back towards Dock Gate four. Then turn right and walk along Platform Road. After God’s House Tower, you’ll come to the Platform Tavern, which in 1912 looked directly at Titanic as she was moored up. Continue along Town Quay until you come to the mediaeval Woolhouse, which until 2011 was the city’s Martime Museum and where you would have found the Titanic exhibition which has since moved to SeaCity Museum.
Turn right up Bugle Street and you’ll come to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Inside there is a memorial dedicated to the staff from the Ritz, the most restaurant on Titanic. The Italian community in Southampton commissioned the memorial in memory of their countrymen who died.
Continue along Bugle Street, turn right into St. Michael Square, past the church and down St. Michael Street. Now you are on High Street. Directly opposite are the remains of Holyrood Church. Destroyed during the blitz in 1940, it is now a memorial to Southampton’s merchant seamen. Inside you’ll find a Titanic memorial which was moved from the Old Cemetery on the Common. Nearby is the ornate former Oakley and Watling building, which provided all the fresh fruit and vegetables for the ship. It is now an Indian restaurant.
Turn left and walk up along High Street, through the Bargate and up Above Bar for about half-a-mile and you’ll come to Guildhall Square, which is dominated by the Civic Centre and Guildhall. Head towards it, turn left and then turn right. This is the Civic Centre and inside it you’ll find the memorial to the postal workers on-board Titanic who died trying to save the mail. The plaque is on the entrance to the council chamber and was moved from the post office when it closed in the early 21st century.
Continue walking around outside of the Civic Centre and you’ll come to SeaCity Museum. Opening 100 years to the minute after Titanic left Southampton, it chronicles not only Southampton’s Titanic story but the city’s relationship with the sea. The £15m museum has a permanent exhibition dedicated to the fateful ship and her extensive links to Southampton.
Continue around the Civic Centre, and eventually you’ll come back to Above Bar. Going north you will soon come to the Engineers’ Memorial, which is probably the most well known tribute to Titanic in the city. Erected in 1914, it pays tribute to the men who kept the ship’s power going until the final moments before the plunge into the icy waters of the Atlantic.
At the far corner of the nearby crossroads, there is a small memorial to some of the most famous people aboard the ship – the musicians. The musicians memorial was unveiled in 1990 by the then remaining survivors it is dedicated to the musicians who carried on playing their instruments on deck in an attempt to keep passengers calm and spirits high.
Beyond the city centre, there are far more links between Southampton and Titanic, such as the former home of Captain EJ Smith, the Old Cemetery where survivors are buried and even the home of the captain of the Carpathia, or the church which became the focal point for all the memorial services.
For more information on these places and many more featured in the trail, visit the Titanic Locations page.