Wakefield and the Titanic disaster

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Wakefield and the Titanic disaster

It seems that only one victim of the sinking of the Titanic on the night of 14-15 April 1912 had any significant Wakefield connection. The great journalist William Thomas Stead (1849-1912) who was the son of a Congregational minister, was educated at Silcoates School, Wrenthorpe, Wakefield, from 1861 to 1863. Stead, a pioneer of investigative journalism, was the editor of The Northern Echo from 1871 and The Pall Mall Gazette from 1883. At the time of the disaster, he was on his way to New York to give a talk on world peace.

Sermons at Wakefield’s churches and chapels on the Sunday following news of the fate of the Titanic focused the disaster. An editorial in The Wakefield Express of 20 April commented ‘the best that science and human skill can do is of little avail against the forces of nature though it will be a fair subject for inquiry when the official investigation is held whether, with a desire to make a quicker passage, undue risk was taken’.

The Sherwood family, proprietors of Wakefield’s Empire (Kirkgate) and Theatre Royal and Opera House (Westgate) raised £63 for the Lord Mayor of London’s disaster fund from collections at their theatres at the end of April. The Wakefield Permanent Orchestra gave a concert in the Empire on 12 May to raise funds for a memorial to the Titanic musicians.

It was a former Wakefield man, Thomas Batty, who initiated the concert in London’s Albert Hall in June for the disaster fund.

Sources issues of The Wakefield Express, www.attackingthedevil.co.uk/titanic/victims.php

© Kate Taylor 2011

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