Fourth Engineer Leonard Hodgkinson


Gary Cooper

Does anyone know if Leonard Hodgkinson is mentioned in any of the various accounts of the disaster? He was born in Stoke on Trent and I have a few details of his early life, but would like to flesh his life story out a bit more if possible. Also, as fourth engineer what would his duties have been on the Titanic?
Hodgkinson was the Senior of five Fourth Engineers (one of whom was a specialist for the refrigeration equipment). The role of qualified engineers on Titanic was basically to ensure that routine adjustments and regular maintenance of the machinery were properly carried out, to deal with any unexpected problems that might arise, and of course to respond promptly to orders telegraphed from the bridge.

No less important was supervision of the work of the small army of firemen, trimmers and greasers who worked in the boiler and engine rooms. By virtue of his seniority and experience, Hodgkinson would have been better qualified than the more junior engineers to deal with any problems arising from within the ranks of the 'black gang'.

He was not mentioned at either of the Inquiries. The only references I have seen are in a couple of stories passed down through the family, which I will relate without comment. One is that Hodgkinson aimed to serve on as many different liners of the White Star Line as possible before retirement, so was keen to transfer to Titanic. The other is that his 14-year old niece, Anna Lewis, was awakened two days before the sinking by a nightmare about screaming people aboard a large ship which was suddenly 'lowered at one end'. Make what you like of that!
Hi, Bob!

Can you give us any other information about the experience of Anna Lewis? I'd like to add this account to my file of Titanic-related 'psychic' phenomena and would appreciate any additional details you might be able to supply.

Thanks very much.

All my best,

Hi, George - your radar is working well tonight!

Anna was spending the night with her grandmother (Hodgkinson's mother) in Stoke-on-Trent and was sleeping in the same room. Neither of them were aware at the time that Hodgkinson was on The Titanic. In the dream, she was standing by a road in Trentham Park, looking at the lake. A large ship is sailing on the lake: Suddenly it lowered at one end and I heard a terrific scream. I must have woke up making a noise because I frightened Gran. She said, "No more suppers for you,lady; dreams are a pack of daft" after I had told her what I'd seen. After a while I must have gone to sleep again and saw the very same scene, and when the people screamed I must have done the same. Gran was real livid with me this time.

I first came across this story on a website (in French!) and it is also mentioned in the book 'How to Travel through Time' by children's writer James M Deem, which is the source of the quoted passage above. Hope that's of some use.

Best regards,
Hi, Bob!

>Hope that's of some use.

Absolutely! Thanks very much for taking the time to look up the info and transcribe it for me -- much appreciated!

Nice to talk with you again, Bob.

All my best,

Good to talk to you too, George.

Deem's book may not be the most reliable (he admits to being influenced by a disreputable tome called 'Titanic: Psychic Forewarnings of a Tragedy' :)), but he was not the source of the Anna Lewis story as he doesn't mention the geographical locations. The French source does include these locations and states that Anna recounted the story long after the event. I'd guess the primary source was a letter or interview in a local newspaper some time after the discovery of the wreck but before 1993, when Deem's book was published, but that's as far as I can take it.

Ah, so he was the first among equals, that answers another question, why he was sometimes referred to as 'senior' fourth engineer. Thanks very much for the quick, in-depth explanation.
Gary, the variety of rankings among the engineering officers on a vessel as large as the Titanic can certainly be confusing. On smaller vessels there would generally be only one officer at each level, but the big liners needed more manpower. The difference in status as reflected in monthly salaries was as below:

Senior Fourth £14
Junior Fourth £13
Senior Assistant Fourth £11
Junior Assistant Fourth £10

Engineering officers on large liners were often 'over-qualified' and had held higher rank on smaller vessels. Hogkinson, for instance, held a First Class Engineer's Certificate, which qualified him to serve as Chief Engineer as he had on at least one other vessel.
such over-qualification seems to have been the case with the deck officers as well, from what I have read. Their exams having been passed,I presume the engineers like the deck officers would then have to then climb the greasy pole on the basis of 'sea-time', accrued on different vessels, or just plain seniority when others retired or moved on?

Do you know which ship Hodgkinson was Chief Engineer aboard?


p.s. Thanks for the wages - very useful.
That's right, Gary. A lot of ambitious deck officers held Master's Certificates long before they obtained a command, if ever. Paper qualifications, while required by the Board of Trade regs, were no substitute for experience. And experience on a vessel as large as an Olympic Class liner often involved an apparent drop down the ladder which was not regarded as a demotion. Immediately prior to Titanic, Hodgkinson served on the Olympic. Earlier in his career he had been Chief Engineer on the St Jerome, which was probably owned by Rankin, Gilmour & Co. I have no idea what kind of vessel that was, but there are probably people here who do! I doubt it was more than a tenth the size of the Titanic and probably employed only two engineering officers.
Thanks very much Bob, you've certainly given me more information than I expected to get and a few new things to look into. It's all for a good cause, I'm currently compiling a history of Stoke-on-Trent in the 20th century and the Titanic will make an interesting departure from stories about mining and pottery. That other local lad, Captain Smith, will of course carry the story, but Leonard Hodgkinson also deserves his place in the tale.

Hi, Bob!

I've done a bit of sleuthing and have discovered where the "Anna Lewis" account came from -- it originally appeared in Dr. Ian Stevenson's paper, "Seven More Paranormal Experiences Connected With the Sinking of the Titanic."

I guess it was the name "Anna Lewis" that originally caught me off guard, since Dr. Stevenson's account was given to him by the percipient herself, Mrs. Charles Hughes, in a letter she wrote to him in 1963. Mrs. Hughes' letter did not mention her own maiden name, however, and I suspect that the two later sources which you mentioned in your posting may have "created" a maiden name for her in order to make the story less complicated.

Aside from the fictitious name "Anna Lewis," though, the abbreviated story that you related in your posting is faithful to the information contained in the letter which Dr. Stevenson transcribed in his paper.

Thanks for drawing my attention to this account, Bob -- much appreciated

All my best,

Gary, it's good to see some of the lesser known faces getting a small share of the immortality accorded to the rich and famous! For your file, here's a bit more info about Mr Hodgkinson in addition to the brief details in his ET biography. He was born in 1866 in Stoke (not liverpool, as stated in some sources). His parents were John and Caroline; John was a potter's presser. Leonard left school to become an apprentice engine fitter with the firm of Hartley, Armour and Fanning in Stoke. At that time he was living with his parents at 5, Knowl Street.

At the time of his marriage in 1891 (I believe to Sarah Clarke) he was resident in Liverpool. The first phase of his career at sea involved work with the Beaver Line and Rankin, Gilmour & Co. This was the period when he achieved his First Class Engineer's Certificate and served as Chief on the Saint Jerome. By 1901, during a temporary break from seafaring, he was running his own business as a mechanical engineer but he was back at sea with the White Star Line in 1905. His last address in Southampton was 67, Arthur Road. Still a lot of gaps, but I hope that helps. Brian T, are you there? Any info from the Relief Fund?

George, you may well be right about the invented name. I can find no trace of anybody so called of the right age in the right place at the right time. It's a good story though!

Best regards,
Bob, this is becoming a very profitable conversation, I think a information swap is in order, though you have supplied much more than I can offer. Here are the few facts I have about Leonard Hodgkinson, which I culled long ago from a 1912 edition of the local paper the 'Staffordshire Sentinel', you might find them of interest.
According to the article, Leonard was born at 20 North Street, Stoke (the road still exists, as do a few old houses, but the site of No. 20 and neighbouring properties is now occupied by a social club).He was apparently the fifth child and second son of John and Catherine Hodgkinson , so I suppose there must be two older children missing from the 1881 census return. Educated at St Thomas' School, Stoke, Leonard started his apprenticeship on leaving and his career developed as you have mentioned. The article ended by mentioning that there were several relatives of his still living in the Potteries, his mother was resident in Shelton Old Road, Stoke, while his younger brother Lawrence lived in Seaford Street, Stoke and worked at Sherratts outfitters in Piccadilly, Hanley. The latter seems to have been the source of this information, so I should imagine it is pretty accurate.
You mention the 1881 census return for Knowle Street ('Knowl' seems to have been a mistake by whoever compiled the return). That street also still exists, it adjoins North Street, but I have not yet been down to have a look at it to see if no. 5 still exists.
One nice fact I have always liked in connection with Leonard Hodgkinson, was that the Hartley and Co works were later taken over by Messrs Kerr, Stuart & Co, locomotive engineers. In the 1920's they had another local young man as an apprentice named Reginald Mitchell, who later went on to design the Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane. Perhaps they trained on the same premises?

I hope this is of some interest.

All the best

Certainly is of interest, Gary. Did the 'Sentinel' article give the names of Leonard's wife and children?

If you have the book 'The Titanic Disaster as reported in the British National Press' there is a useful group photo (page 137) of Hodgkinson and about 30 fellow engineers on the Olympic. Half of this group transferred to Titanic and died with him. Send me your email address if you can use a scan.

I think we should put all this together and offer an update for the brief ET biography. These very brave men deserve to be better known. What do you think?