World mysteries: Why we want to learn more about the Titanic

Why we are Still Fascinated by the Titanic more than 100 Years On

At 30 James Street – Home of The Titanic we welcome an endless stream of guests from far and wide who have come to stay in our luxury hotel to enjoy a short break in Liverpool. Many, however,  also come to learn more about the Titanic.

Why is it that we, the public, are still intrigued by the sinking of RMS Titanic?

A recent channel four documentary titled Titanic: New Evidence detailed a new theory as to why the unsinkable ship sunk.

We then asked ourselves the question “what it is that makes us want to learn more about Titanic” more than 100 years after that fateful night?

This is what we discovered.

Lives of the rich and famous

As a nation, we are hungry for what goes on behind the closed doors of the rich and famous. What they eat, how they sleep and what they wear is plastered across every media outlet in existence today.

Even though access to the elite has somewhat altered over time, the same goes today as it did in the early 19th century and indeed throughout time.

Rich and famous on board the TitanicWe crave further knowledge of those living a different life to ourselves and onboard the Titanic were members of the highest social elite.

Passengers such as John Jacob Astor and his new young wife Madeline were shrouded in scandal.

After they married the nearly 30-year age gap and Madeline’s “delicate condition” was at the core of public gossip.

The equivalent today would be a wealthy entrepreneur wedding a young socialite with our modern-day press trying to capture the first picture of a baby bump confirming the “hush-hush” pregnancy.

Other scandals include millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim travelling with his lover Mme Aubart. Even though Guggenheim was married, he chose to travel onboard Titanic with his mistress, a singer and actress.

Again such a story today would be coveted by our press. Desperate to reveal the affair and details of the scandalous nature of such a relationship.

Could our lust for details about the rich and famous be what drives us to learn more about the Titanic and the lives of those board?

Classes coming together

As much as the lives of the rich and famous intrigue us, we also enjoy tales of the “upstairs-downstairs” variety.

Below deck - Kate and Leo - Titanic movie

The TV drama that bore the very name “Upstairs, Downstairs” was popular viewing in the seventies and remains a classic piece of TV nostalgia when re-runs are aired.

Another similarly themed drama  “Downton Abbey” was a popular series that started with the very tragedy we are discussing at its core, the sinking of the Titanic.

Comparing the lives of those “upstairs” to those who live and work below has us enraptured.

With ‘upstairs’ life, it is the affluence that intrigues us.

The strict social airs and graces, formalities such as changing for dinner and which room is correct to take afternoon tea in are rules that have worked their way down from royal courts in the earliest recordings of social life.

Life ‘downstairs’ gives us sneaky insider views on the work that went into providing those above with the life they’d become accustomed to. The daily grind of servants and cooks is more akin to the everyday lives the majority of us live today.

On board Titanic, of course, the classes were kept apart and life onboard was vastly different from steerage and the middle classes to the splendour of the first-class dwellings.

Our interest lies in the off chance that should classes come together, what would happen?

James Cameron’s 1997 movie, Titanic, perfectly illustrates the differences between classes and how far apart the lives of those in each class could be. Poor boy meets rich girl and vice versa is a popular notion that has woven its way into our romantic hearts from as early as the first love stories were written.

Are we all just hopeless romantics at heart, still yearning to learn about impossible love stories from on board the Titanic?

Highly publicised event

Even before Titanic foundered the vessel’s maiden voyage was a hugely publicised affair.

Carrying wealthy passengers was just the tip of the press coverage. In main the size of Titanic was at the forefront of all articles published before she sailed.

A ship that stood at 104 feet, with a rudder as tall as a seven-story building that could displace 60000 tonnes of water: a ship that must have been a sight to behold. A vessel that size that was unsinkable to boot, the public must have been thinking Titanic was a wonder of the modern world.

A vessel that size that was unsinkable to boot must have seemed like a true a wonder of the modern world.

After coverage of the size of Titanic had been exhausted the press moved onto the exuberant facilities that first-class passengers could enjoy during their trip.

Parisian cafe - learn more about the TitanicThese included Turkish baths, Parisian style cafes with fancy French trellis work covered in decorative ivy creepers.

For the sporty passengers, there were full-size squash courts, a gymnasium and a swimming pool perfect for keeping active during such a long voyage.

Gymnasium and Turkish bath - learn more about the TitanicThose looking for a leisurely voyage could dine in the Ritz-Carlton restaurant, relax in flamboyant reception rooms or enjoy entertainment provided from concert halls.

All this was a far cry from the type of sea voyage many an average traveller would have previously experienced. The necessities of everyday first class life had been accounted for and exceeded by Titanic’s designers.

Such coverage had the public engaged before Titanic had even put to sea, a huge event that was expected to make history.

Although it was never expected that Titanic would make history in the manner it did.

What could have been?

Such a fluke accident and an utterly futile loss of life, the Titanic disaster begs the question;

“What could have been?”

What could have been for the families who were torn apart by such a senseless tragedy? For those looking to begin a new life in America after having left their homelands from countries across Europe?

What could have been for those who were involved in the Titanic’s maiden journey? Those who manned the vessel, the Captain and his crew.

What could have been if the Titanic reached its destination, ahead of time and having hosted the perfect first class voyage across the Atlantic?

What kind of people would have continued to travel aboard this floating palace and what kind of profits would it have brought the White Star Line? How would a successful Titanic voyage have affected the lives of those that stood to gain from Titanic’s success’?

But perhaps the most saddening question of all is what could have been of all the lives lost at sea?

The children, men and women who were on their way to America to start their new lives or continue on in lives they were happily living. So many of those lost were newlyweds, new parents, newly in love so many who had dreams of what their futures would be.

The sad fact is both we and they will never know how lives could have turned out. Perhaps these unanswered questions are what drives us to keep searching for answers and learn more about the Titanic.

Perhaps these are the unanswered questions that drive us to keep searching for answers and learn more about the Titanic.

Conspiracy theories

Surrounding the biggest stories in the world there is always a conspiracy theory to go with it.

The JFK assassination, Jesus Christ’s bloodline, a new world order and even a faked moon landing.

No matter what happens in our world we, as humans, always try and seek out drama behind it.

The same applies to the sinking of the Titanic.

Stories of greed, blind ambition, competition between Cunard and White Star Shipping lines and pride of those involved in the creation of Titanic can all be linked to the greatest maritime disaster of our time.

Fire on board

The most recent theory to surface over a hundred years after the maritime disaster occurred was that of Channel Four documentary Titanic: New Evidence.

This theory outlined details of a coal fire that is thought to have ignited before the Titanic left British waters. The short film goes on to explain the devastating effect such a blaze could have on the structural integrity of the Titanic’s watertight bulkheads.

New evidence - learn more about the TitanicIn summary, the coal fire was said to have taken place in a bunker, blazing at unfathomable temperatures that would have warped the bulkhead it was in contact with.

After such intense heat had been applied to metalwork surrounding the fire, the immediate cooling from the icy water of the Atlantic caused the metal to shatter.

This theory does explain how the unsinkable ship was eventually able to sink.

The ship that didn’t sink

Another theory is that the ship that sunk on April 14th was not the Titanic but sister ship the Olympic.

It is said, for insurance purposes, that White Star Line had swapped the ships over to avoid having to incur costly repairs to Olympic. A ship that had sustained major damage on two separate collisions shortly after being launched.

Another possible explanation as to why Titanic was able to sink after being hit by the iceberg.

Sunk for politics

A rather disturbing theory, and one that doesn’t have much evidence to back it up is that Titanic was deliberately sunk by those in power in the US and UK.

It is suggested that three of the richest men on board were opposed to schemes such as the Federal Reserve Bank established in 1913, and the income tax legislation.

The worrying theory implies that by eliminating Benjamin Guggenheim, John Jacob Astor and Isidor Strauss the US Government could finally push forward their proposed legislation.

The very schemes that had been held up by the three richest men that perished on the Titanic.

Going against this theory is the fact that any of the three men could have survived the disaster. The possibility that anyone could have evaded death was far too wide to have been a direct assassination attempt.

This theory does, however, remain strong in the minds of many who take the time to delve into the connections between the introduction of both Federal Bank Reserve and income tax legislation.

Further far-reaching tales have included the curse of a mummy, the remains of whom were being transported by a historian on board. Another includes a German U-Boat targeting the liner to thwart progression in engineering mastery.

Our infatuation with explaining the unknown and unearthing reality shattering discoveries are what keep our imaginations alive.

Are we still waiting for somebody to reveal a shocking truth about the fateful night the Titanic sank?

An Unimaginable situation

For many of us, the thought of being doomed to sink in the middle of icy waters is at the very top of our darkest nightmares. There are harrowing tales that circulate the Titanic disaster of passengers that simply knew they were doomed and gave themselves up to the Titanic.

Stories like Guggenheim and his valet who dressed in their best intending to go down with the ship like gentleman.

The recounting of Mme Aubart who said the men still on deck when she and her maid left on the last lifeboat, were calmly smoking cigars and cigarettes, accepting their fate.

Of course, there’s also the famous recollection of the band that played for passengers until the end in an attempt to maintain calm during the panic. Known today as Titanic’s orchestra the seven men were recognised for their bravery.

Titanic orchestra

The youngest musician was aged just 20 and the oldest 33, overtime monuments have been erected in their honour marking their heroism. Plenty of Titanic survivors could recount the band’s actions on the night the Titanic sank.

Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea. The music they played served alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recalled on the scrolls of undying fame.

Second class passenger unnamed

It’s impossible to think of what each of our actions would be if faced with a catastrophic situation such as the sinking of the Titanic. Perhaps the futile loss of life is why we want to learn more about the Titanic and what happened at the end.

Untold Stories

There were 2,203 people on board the Titanic, not just the rich and famous but the everyday traveller looking to experience a great voyage across the Atlantic.

Those whose stories have gone untold could still surface today from old family records or distant relatives of passengers onboard the Titanic.

The exact number of those that perished at sea has been a source of contention for some years. If registers and numbers of recorded survivors are believed to be accurate than 1,497 people died at sea and the rest were rescued from lifeboats.

According to Encyclopaedia Titanica (ref: #19547, accessed 16th February 2017 05:50:55 PM), there was a total of 330 recovered dead bodies from the sea after the sinking of the Titanic.

From this number 239 were identified, and buried in various Halifax cemeteries. This left 91 unidentified recovered bodies and a staggering 1,167 that went down with the ship.

The life stories of these people are perhaps what we still cling to today. Hoping to one day be able to gain a sense of closure for those that were not recovered on April 14th, 1912.

Sunken Treasures

A final reason many of us wish to learn more about the Titanic is our interest in treasures rumoured to lie on the ocean floor within the wreckage.

If many of the richest people alive were on board the vessel it’s safe to assume that a vast amount of jewellery, artwork and priceless antiques may still lie inside the sunken remains of Titanic.

The vessel remained undiscovered until 1985 when a crew finally found what remains of Titanic. Since then various trips down into the ship have resulted in around 5,500 items being brought to the surface.

These include jewels, items of clothing and even a section of the ship itself.

Among the most famous artefacts still reported lost is the jewelled Rubai-yyat. A book of poems written by Omar Khayyam encased in a jewel encrusted gold binding. This item was on its way to a new owner selling for a whopping sum of $19,00.


Other items lost forever include rare paintings, automobiles and even a signed portrait of Garibaldi.

It’s difficult to know exactly what was in the cargo hold of Titanic, the manifest having been delivered to Mauritania and delivered to America via registered mail only detailing what was declared.

As many wealthy men perished in the disaster insurance claims for undeclared cargo were not filed and so the mystery of what could still be hidden in the wreckage of the Titanic remains strong today.

Many people protest that the vessel should have been left intact to honour the memory of those lost. It seems, however, these wishes go unheeded as people continue to search for lost treasure hidden on Titanic.

30 James Street – Home of the Titanic

30 James Street entrance 30 James Street aims to preserve the memory of those that perished on the RMS Titanic and the impact the disaster had on the families of those who lost their lives and those who survived. We do our best to uncover unknown facts and personal stories that bring a little more light to what occurred on that fateful night so long ago.

During a visit to 30 James Street, Titanic enthusiasts can enjoy a luxury stay in a stunning Liverpool hotel whilst they learn more about the Titanic.

Located in what was once the White Star Line offices, an important part of the Titanic legacy, today is a tribute to Titanic’s memory. The entire building has been artfully restored, keeping many original features of the building intact. The history of our hotel and the Titanic can be found here, with personal stories of those on board as well as details of some of the Titanic artefacts recovered.

To learn more about the fascinating history of Titanic make a visit to 30 James Street hotel, when you are next in Liverpool. Call on 0151 601 8801 or email to discuss your visit.

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