Friday, 05 March 2021

Henley Probus Club

THE 462nd meeting of Henley Probus Club was held at Badgemore Park on February 11

The business conducted was as follows:

The chairman provided an update on the new club meeting and lunch arrangements at Badgemore Park, which will become effective from April 1.

The treasurer provided a summary of the club’s accounts, including the current status of the collection which supports charities in the Henley area.

The next external event is a visit to the tulip fields in Holland in April. Further events are being discussed by the events committee.

The friendship secretary provided a summary of the members who are currently not in the best of health.

After the business had been completed, the chairman introduced Ian Black, a member of the club, who gave a presentation, with slides, on RMS Titanic.

The key points of Ian’s talk were:

The ship was built in Belfast in the period 1910-1912. It was designed primarily as a tourist class ship (quite unlike the image conveyed in the three Titanic films) to facilitate emigration to the US.

The ship’s capacity was 2,200 people and its lifeboats could accommodate just 700.

After only three days of sea trials, the ship left Belfast on April 2, 1912 to pick up crew and a number of passengers at Southampton before departing, on April 10, for Cherbourg (more crew and passengers), then Queenstown in southern Ireland, en route to New York.

The ship was fuelled by coal and, interestingly, 10 coal stokers refused to join the ship at Southampton over concerns of fire risk during the journey.

On April 14, four days after setting off from Southampton, an iceberg was spotted and the ship changed direction to try to protect itself from a head-on collision.

At the same time the ship accelerated to its maximum speed which was the advice given to minimise collision risk.

In the event the collision with the iceberg was side on and, three hours later, at 2am on April 15, the ship had broken into two parts, caught fire and had sunk.

A total of 700 passengers survived the accident, all of whom were in lifeboats. None of the passengers who fell into the sea survived.

The SS Californian, which was in the “iceberg area” sent a message to Titanic to warn about the icebergs but did not go to assist. Her Captain (Lord) was subsequently vilified.

RMS Carpathia had received a telegraph message from Titanic but on arrival at the site of the accident there was really nothing to see.

A total of 200 people were buried in Nova Scotia, Canada, but no other bodies were found.

Most recently, the two parts of the ship which rest at the bottom of the sea, about 700 yards apart, were to be protected under a historic treaty with the United States.

There were very many questions at the end of the presentation after which Ian was given a very warm vote of thanks for his talk by the members.

Henley Probus Club meets at Badgemore Park on the second Tuesday of each month at 11am. The next meeting will be held on March 10. If you are interested in coming along, please call Roger Griffiths on (01491) 575137.

Roger Roberts

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