Eve of Titanic Maiden Voyage: Events in South Western Hotel 9 April 1912


chrisd

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May 19, 2012
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Has anyone any information about the events in the South Western Hotel, Southampton on 9 April 1912? We know that J Bruce Ismay with his family, Thomas Andrews and the ships guarantee group (a total of 9 White Star Line staff I believe) stayed at the hotel on the night before the maiden voyage together with some of the wealthiest passengers. I understand that Captain Smith, who lived with his wife and daughter only a short distance from the hotel, was the only officer not on board Titanic that night; and have evidence to make me believe that he must have been invited to the hotel for pre-voyage interaction with the White Star contingency, possible pre-voyage briefing, meal and celebrations in the hotel that night. I also have evidence that Bruce Ismay presented Captain Smith with an elaborate pre-voyage gift at the hotel which could be of profound importance in the debate about whether Bruce later influenced the Captain in a bid to break the trans-Atlantic record. However, I have found no accounts of events in the hotel that night. I am wondering if any Southampton news reporters may have been present so that an article may have been published about it the following morning? If anyone has any knowledge on this subject I would be most pleased to learn. Many thanks. Chris.
 
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Hello- I've been collecting Titanic/White Star for some time. I have in my possession a bronze box engraved "To Captain Edward J Smith ~ Your Friend J Bruce Ismay ~ White Star Line. It weighs 2-3 pounds, is comprised of individual panels and the writing is hand-engraved and "of the period" (1910s). I acquired it from an individual who got it from a lady who worked for actor Laurence Naismith in Australia after he retired from motion pictures. (He portrayed Captain Smith in "A Night to Remember" in the 1950s). Naismith was visited on the set of the film by Captain Smith's daughter, Helen, who gave him the box. Anyone have any thoughts? I'd be happy to post pics if this forum has a means of doing so. I have pics on google plus #titanic.
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Doug Criner

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I don't doubt the box's authenticity, but without additional provenance, there's no way to tell when it might have been presented to Smith. Possibly not connected with Titanic's maiden sailing, certainly not on the "eve" from Southampton, when Smith was not present.

I'm suspecting that several, perhaps many, such boxes were passed out to various WSL officials and other dignitaries. Notice that the personalized engravings seem to be on nameplates separate from the box itself, possibly affixed depending upon the recipient and the particular ship involved. Also, note that the color of the dedicatory nameplate to Smith seems to be a different color than the box itself or the other nameplates.

Also, Bruce Ismay's dedication to Capt. Smith, "my friend," seems a bit distant and unwarm for two who had a relatively long professional background. It's as if the same dedication might have been used for various run-of-the-mill politicians and other potentates.

Nowadays, such a one-of-a-kind presentation from such as Bruce Ismay to a long-time trusted subordinate such as Smith, would necessitate something much more special and personal. In the early 20th Century, I can't but believe that such modern courtesies would not have been followed in spades.

My theory is that such boxes were passed out like popcorn, somewhat like pens and pencils, and that Smith received one as a matter of course.
 

chrisd

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May 19, 2012
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Following my posting in 1912 seven years on and I have still not found any accounts of the events in the Southwestern Hotel on the eve of the maiden voyage. I appreciate the interesting information provided by Susan in 1914 about the box from J Bruce Ismay to Captain Smith, and the response from Doug about the box, thank you both. But my enquiry related to a substantial bespoke gift much greater than the box, specially commissioned for Captain Smith by Bruce which in the words of Doug was significantly more special and personal. I believe the gift was left in the hotel awaiting Captain Smith's return. I have never found the time to visit Southampton to research the newspaper archives (hopefully reports on the morning of 10th April 1912 about celebrations in the hotel the previous night ) and hope to do that one day; however, I thought that I should try this forum again given so many knowledgeable members. Many thanks, Chris.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Apr 21, 2009
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Following my posting in 1912 seven years on and I have still not found any accounts of the events in the Southwestern Hotel on the eve of the maiden voyage. I appreciate the interesting information provided by Susan in 1914 . Many thanks, Chris.
You must be the senior most ET member! ;)
 
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Mark Baber

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Not by a long shot, Arun. Sam Halpern, for example, has been here since 2003; Dave Gittins, 2001; Bob, Godfrey, 2002, and so on. 2012 is like yesterday.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Not by a long shot, Arun. Sam Halpern, for example, has been here since 2003; Dave Gittins, 2001; Bob, Godfrey, 2002, and so on. 2012 is like yesterday.
It was just a lighthearted jest. Chrisd said "following my posting in 1912 seven years ago" when he obviously meant 2012. We are all so involved with the Titanic that 1912 comes so naturally. :)
 

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