Walter Hurst was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 24 November 1883. He was the son of Charles Henry Hurst (1853-1933) and Eliza Ann Miller (1855-), both Southampton natives who had married there in 1874.
Walter was one of eight children, his siblings being: Martha Ann (b. 1875), Robert Edward (b. 1878), Mary (b. 1880), Charles Henry (b. 1882), Ellen (b. 1886), Joseph Henry (b. 1887) and Louisa (b. 1891).
Walter first appears on the 1891 census. At that time he and his family were living at 12 Dock Street, St Mary, Southampton and his father was described as a general labourer. The family are still at this address by the time of the 1901 census, with Walter now described as an able seaman.
Walter was married in Southampton on 18 May 1907 to Rosina May Mintram (b. 12 February 1887 in Southampton). Together they would have six children: Walter Charles (1909-2003), Henry Edward (1910-1991), George Walter (1911-1990), Arthur Thomas (1913-2001), Rosina Ellen (1916-2002) and Florence May (1919-1958).
On the 1911 census Walter, his wife and first two children were listed as living at 51 Dock Street, Southampton and he was described as a mercantile seaman.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April, 1912 Walter gave his local address as 13 Chapel Road, (Southampton), the home of his father-in-law William Mintram, also a fireman aboard Titanic. His last ship had been the Olympic. As a fireman he received monthly wages of £6.
William Mintram and Walter Hurst met each other shortly before the Titanic went down. William had found a lifejacket, but Hurst had not, so William gave his lifejacket to his son-in-law. This may have contributed to the fact that Walter was able to stay on collapsible B, and to survive, while William did not. Whilst aboard the upturned collapsible, Walter related in a 1950s interview that his mate Fireman William Lindsay offered him a hipflask. Believing it to be brandy, Walter took a mouthful but nearly choked when it turned out to be peppermint essence.
Walter Hurst in about 1919
(National Archives, courtesy of Gavin Bell, UK)
Walter Hurst returned to England a continued a career at sea. During the 1950s he would correspond with Walter Lord during that author's research for his book A Night to Remember. He died on 17 December 1964 at Harefield, Southampton. His estate of £365 was left to his widow Rosina who would later die on 27 May 1969.