Town’s links with Titanic disaster

How the Northern Daily Mail reported the sinking
How the Northern Daily Mail reported the sinking
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HARTLEPOOL’S status as a bustling port during the early 20th Century means it has several links to the Titanic tragedy.

The vessel’s giant stern frame, for instance, was dispatched from West Hartlepool docks to Belfast shipbuilders Harland & Wolff.

Iain Jay

Iain Jay

The 18-mile rail journey from Darlington to town on December 10, 1909, was a spectacle in itself with both tracks cleared because of the load’s width.

A 150-ton crane was also attached to the frame to ensure the weight was distributed as evenly as possible.

The load was then transferred to Antrim Iron Ore Company steamship Glendun and taken to Belfast.

With ship and dock workers often moving between ports for employment, at least one of the 1,500-plus fatalities on board the Titanic was also originally from town.

Official logs show that assistant butcher Thomas Porteus, 32, was born in West Hartlepool.

Mr Porteus, who signed on the Titanic’s crew for some unknown reason as Thomas Parker, was living in Southampton at time of the tragedy.

His remains were never discovered.

There are also claims that fireman and stoker John Brown, 25, whose last address was again in Southampton, was also originally from Hartlepool.

Mr Brown’s body was recovered by a rescue vessel and buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada.

At least three of the ships which helped deal with the aftermath had been built here in Hartlepool.

While two had been sold to British shipping companies out of town, the third, Annie, was made at Furness, Withy & Co and still owned by the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company.

She too had encountered drifting icebergs on her journey from Narvik, in Norway, to Philadelphia, in America, on two occasions before managing to escape.

Annie was eventually sold to a Spanish shipping company and broken up in 1934.

Hartlepool professional mind reader Iain Jay, who is also a Titanic enthusiast, said: “These ships were not involved in the immediate rescue but helped retrieve bodies and debris as part of the salvage operation afterwards.

“Such was the scale of the disaster that this clean up went on for weeks.

“With Hartlepool such a busy port at the time, it is likely that some of the men on these ships could well have been from Hartlepool.”

l WERE any of your relatives on board the Titanic? Contact our newsdesk on (01429) 239381.