Titanic Band – heroes at the moment of disaster

The Titanic Band

The Titanic music band added a sense of heroism to this tragic event. Witnesses agree that the band played on till the end and it is certain that their memory will live as a memorial for generations to come.

The key person in the Titanic music band was Wallace Hartley. He was born in Colne, Lincoshire, could play the violin well, and had worked for years as a musician on ocean liners. On the Titanic band he was the leader of a quintet and their job was to play at church services and during tea and after dinner. In addition to Hartley’s five there was a trio who played at the reception hall. They played a piano, cello and violin. The two groups worked separately but on the night of the sinking joined together, possibly for the first time.

Titanic Band – Music even as the boat is sinking

Why did the Titanic band play even as the boat was sinking? They hoped to keep the passengers calm and upbeat and also the crew who had the daunting task of organizing the lifeboats. In this respect their determination to continue playing in the freezing cold even as it became apparent that there was no hope for the boat of for them must surely mark these men as heroes.

Which was their last song?

Hartley had once said that if he was on a sinking ship he would want his last song to be either “Nearer My God to Thee”, a beautiful hymn composed by English Christian poet Sarah Adams; or “O God our Help in Ages Past” by the famous hymn composer and father of English hymnology, Isaac Watts. Survivors testified that the Titanic band played “Nearer My God to Thee”. This is what the newspapers reported and this is what was traditionally accepted in the years since the tragedy. Wireless operator Harold Bride by contrast, reported that the band’s last song was “Autumn”. Probably he meant either the hymn “Autumn” or the “Songe d’ Automne” which was popular at the time. Since none of the band members survived we will never know for sure, but “Nearer My God to Thee” is the one ingrained in the public consciousness. Below are the words of this hymn.

In their Memory

Hartley’s body was found two weeks after the disaster, still wearing the band uniform. It was sent by boat to England. His funeral was attended by about one thousand people while many more thousands lined the streets to pay their respects to his funeral procession. There is a memorial erected in Colne dedicated to him and also a plaque in his home in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. There is also a plaque to the band’s memory naming all eight members in Liverpool’s Philarmonic Hall. And so, the journey that started with the construction of the boat in Belfast Northern Ireland, came to an end.

Nearer My God to Thee – Lyrics

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;

Still all my song would be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!


Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,

Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;

Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!


There let the way appear steps unto heav’n;

All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv’n;

Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!


The with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,

Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;

So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!


Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,

Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,

Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

More Pages About the Titanic Tragey

Quick Titanic Facts

Titanic: The Beginning

The Titanic Sinking Part 1

The Titanic Sinking Part 2

The Titanic Sinking Part 3

The Mystery Ship that could have saved more people

The Passengers

The Survivors

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St Gobban Church

Ireland’s smallest church?

St. Gobbans is a tiny church located in the village of Portbraddan on the west side of White Park Bay. As with the rest of the North Antrim coastline, White Park Bay is a beautiful piece of landscape with a long white sand beach. Portbraddan which consists of only a handful of houses is as quaint and quiet a place as you can get in Northern Ireland. The tiny church is privately owned. At 10 feet by 4 (3m by 1.4m) it is considered the smallest in Ireland though there is another even smaller, St. Lasseraghs, on the cliffs above but which lies in ruins.

The church is dedicated to St. Gobban, a famous person in the mosaic of Irish religion and the island’s foremost architect during the 6th and 7th centuries AD. He was born at Malahide near Dublin around AD 560. His reputation as an architect was such that he was employed by many different people to build churches and other buildings for them. In fact the tales told about him sound so wonderful that some historians consider him to be a mythical person. However, he was probably a historical person but simply his life and work were so embellished by subsequent generations that his story took on mythical details.

To Get There

Park you car as near to the seaside as you can and walk to the church. A visit will not take more than a few minutes though once there you might want to stay in the area and enjoy the ocean breeze.

Being a small and relatively little known place, a visit to the church is best if it is part of a day out. You can either do it when you are touring the Antrim Coast. Or, you can simply decide to have a day on the beach in which case White Park Bay is an excellent option and in the process you can visit the church and the other landmarks in the vicinity

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Titanic Facts – the Sinking

Titanic Facts – Titanic 1912 Sinking continued

After the collision with the iceberg water began to pour in quickly. Within ten minutes the water levels in the front compartments had risen more than 10 meters. Thomas Andrews, the engineer who oversaw the construction of the Titanic, and who was traveling on her maiden voyage to detect possible flaws and areas for improvement, was asked to assess the damage. He soon realized that the ship’s fate was sealed. At around midnight the captain, who had already reached the bridge alarmed by the jolt of the collision. Andrews brought him the news that the ship would sink within two hours. He immediately (around 25 minutes past midnight) gave the order that help should be called and evacuation procedures begin. The lifeboats could only take about half of the people on board. Women and children should go first.

Titanic Facts – Carpathia races to the rescue

The distress call was picked up by the land station at Cape Race in Newfoundland, 375 miles away and by a number of boats the closest of which was the steam liner Carpathia, 58 miles away. The Carpathia raced towards Titanic but the distance and her top speed of only 17 knots meant that it would take four hours for her to arrive. In an effort to reach the Titanic as quickly as possible captain Arthur Roston ordered that all supplies of hot water to passengers be stopped and the hot water be maintained for the steam engines.

Titanic Facts – The Crew Work to Save Lives

The Titanic crew was divided in two teams. From the moment the captain gave the order they were able to launch about one lifeboat every ten minutes, testimony to the crew’s efficiency and rigour with which they undertook the task. By 2:00 in the morning all 16 main lifeboats had been launched and now the collapsible lifeboats were being launched. The water had reached the bridge level.

Titanic Facts – the Final Moments

Just before 2:20 power went off. The wireless could no longer be operated and the lights went off. At nearly the same time, as the bow plunged deeper into the ocean the stern rose high in the air. The forward funnel broke off and fell in the water. Immediately afterward the pressure of the weight of the stern in the air broke the ship in two. The bow sunk quickly; the stern fell on the surface of the ocean, stayed there for a short while and then in turn it sunk. By 2:20 the Titanic was gone. The history of Titanic as a passenger carrying liner that began with her construction in the Belfast shipyards in Northern Ireland was over.

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History of Titanic – the fascinating story of the Titanic’s construction

History of Titanic

In the previous page we gave some True Titanic Facts.

Now we move to the history of Titanic. Here we will run you through some of the key events and people involved with the Titanic especially as it relates to Northern Ireland.


The Titanic was conceived at a dinner party in a London mansion one fateful evening in 1907. There two men met, Bruce Ismay, who was Chairman of White Star Lines, and Lord James Pirrie who was Chairman of Harland and Wolff. The topic of the discussion was luxury travel in the oceans. The two of them agree to build a new class of liner that would be the ultimate in luxury and elegance. And so the history of Titanic began.

The actual work on the class of ships started on the Olympic, the Titanic’s sister ship, in December 1908 and completed in 1910.

The Construction of the Titanic

Work on the Titanic began in March 1909 and completed in 1912. A third ship, the Britannic, larger than the previous two but belonging to the same Olympic class, was completed in 1914. Harland and Wolff was chosen not only because it had the largest shipyard in the world, a fitting place to build what would then be the world’s largest liner. It was also a sign of the close co-operation of the two companies. Indeed, Harland and Wolff eventually built a total of 70 liners for White Star Line. These three Olympic class liners were build to compete with the equally luxurious and fast Mauritania and Lusitania of the rival Cunard Line company.

The site where the Titanic was built can be seen in Belfast harbour and is being developed into a historic monument. Three thousand Northern Irish workers worked on the construction of the Titanic out of a total of 15,000 workers in Harland and Wolff. The Titanic hull was launched on May 31, 1911. Thousands of residents gathered to cheer it along. It was a momentous day. Here is how a local newsletter reported it:

“The ship glided down to the river with a grace and dignity which for the moment gave one the impression that she was conscious of her own strength and beauty, and there was a roar of cheers as the timbers by which she had been supported yielded to the pressure put upon them. She took to the water as if she was eager for the baptism.”

She was outfitted by March 1912. On April 2, 1912 she set sail from Belfast for Southampton. The history of Titanic construction would be incomplete without a brief reference to lifeboats.

The Construction of the Titanic – Lifeboats

Why didn’t the titanic lifeboats suffice for all passengers? This is a question many people ask. At the time the Titanic was being built Board of Trade regulations required that ships over 10,000 tons carry 16 lifeboats and also enough rafts and floats for an additional capacity of 50% the capacity of the lifeboats (or 75% if there were no watertight compartments on the ship). The problem was that the regulations were fast becoming outdated. When the regulations had been set in 1894 the largest ships displaced a mere 13,000 tons, whereas the Titanic displaced a full 46,328 tons.

The titanic carried 16 lifeboats plus four folding ones called Collapsibles and so was within regulations but did not carry enough for all passengers and crew when fully loaded. Alexander Carlisle who had been chief draughtsman at the initial stages of construction had suggested 48 lifeboats be carried but because of objections the suggestion was never carried out.

Have you checked the True Titanic Facts?

Now read about the Sinking of the Titanic part 1?; part 2; and part 3.

Read also about the Mystery Ship that could have saved many more passengers but somehow didn’t. Read also about the heroic Titanic Band that played music to the end, as well as the Passengers, some famous and most not but still precious human beings whose loss was tragic or their salvation a feat. Read also about the survivors.

By reading all the above pages we hope you will have a good grasp of the history of Titanic.

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