Titanic Ghosts and CursesGhosts
The Titanic sank 107 years ago and there are still programmes on television documenting conspiracies, theories and survivors stories. I was going to put together a ‘Titanic Conspiracy’ post but in researching I realised that a) this isn’t new news and b) all the points that spark a “ah, that makes a lot of sense” reaction have a very good counterpoint or the completely ignore all evidence or rely on unreliable witnesses.
SO! Here are my favourite mad Titanic myths, ghosts and curses instead!
What we know for sure about the Titanic
The Titanic was on of 3 ships in the ‘Olympic’ class of liners for the White Star Line, the Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. They were built for luxury and opulence as steam was not akin to being particularly fast (by todays standards). The Titanic was the biggest ship afloat at the time and was built along with her sister ships at Harland & Wolff docks in Belfast between 31 March 1909 and 31 May 1911 with her infamous maiden voyage on 10 April 1912 which lasted a total of 5 days.
The ship sailed from Belfast to Southampton on the 31 May to collect passengers then went on to Cherbourg in France and Queenstown in Ireland before attempting the Atlantic crossing to New York.
During the crossing, on April the 14th at 11:40pm, she hit an Iceberg 375 miles south of Newfoundland causing her hull plates to buckle along the Starboard side which allowed water into five of her sixteen water tight compartments. The ship was only designed to allow for four to be flooded and stay afloat.
At 2:20am she broke into two taking over 1000 passengers with her, a mere two hours later the Titanic was lost to the sea bed. 705 people of 2435 passengers and 892 crew survived. The ship held a sum total of 20 lifeboats which was sufficient for 1178 passengers.
The Cursed Mummy
Could there be a more enticing title?!
The story goes that in the 1890’s during the golden age of English Mummy plundering, a rich young Englishman (whose name I cannot find) visited the dig sites near Luxor and purchased the sarcophagus and Mummy of princess Amen-Ra and arranged for it to be shipped back to dear old Blighty. Unfortunately, he then disappeared from the face of the Earth, never to receive his new purchase. His travel companions suffered strange happenings too; one died on the trip, one lost his arm and the third lost his fortune in a bank failure.
The Mummy reached England to be bought by a businessman leading to a car accident and the burning down of his house. Convinced (as you would be) that the Mummy was cursed, he donated it to the British Museum.
The British Museum staff reported moans and knocks in the Mummy’s coffin at night and objects ended up being thrown around the room. Two deaths resulted in this new resting place, one was a watchman and the other was a Photographer who took a photo of the Mummy, only to develop the photo which was so horrifying that he killed himself.
Thats now 4 people who died due to the curse.
The British Museum, understandably, couldn’t even give the Mummy away because of the reputation for killing its owners. An American archaeologist, who didn’t believe the stories, decided to relieve the Museum of its ownership. He had booked its passage aboard the Titanic.
William Stead was a British editor who believed in early 20th century spiritualism had spent a considerable time spreading the word of the cursed Mummy that had been wreaking havoc upon London. He also had a ticket aboard the Titanic. Onboard he continued to spread the word of the horror which lay below in the cargo hold, which, after the disaster, was relayed by relayed to the New York World which in turn was picked up by the Washington Post which ran the headline: “Ghost of the Titanic: Vengeance of Hoodoo Mummy Followed Man Who Wrote Its History.”
Compelling, thought no record of such a Mummy exists in the British Museum or on the Titanic.
In 1898 an American author by the name of Morgan Robertson wrote a book titled ‘Futility’ in which he describes a ship called the Titan – On a clear, chilly night in April, the largest vessel to float at 800 feet long and declared unsinkable had 2,500 sleeping passengers aboard. Then, suddenly it struck an iceberg on its starboard side while moving at 25 knots. The ship was 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland, it sunk quickly and had an insufficient amount of lifeboats.
Considering the Titanic was 882 foot long, was considered unsinkable due to its watertight compartments, held 2435 passengers, was travelling at 23 knots and hit the iceberg 375 miles south of Newfoundland, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Morgan Robertson was a psychic.
This has been debunked, it is an urban legend that just seems to stick and I think it’s quite interesting, if nothing else, it’s a good story.
All ships were given a designated identification number and Titanic’s number was reportedly 390904. Seems pretty mundane, right? Well, in sectarian Belfast of the 1900’s, this was seen as an attack on the Roman Catholics as, when mirrored, the numbers seem to spell out ‘NO POPE’.
This resulted in a curse placed on the ship and led to its untimely sinking.
The ship was actually numbered 401 which is a lot less interesting.
The Ghostly Woman
The Titanic Exhibition in The Luxor in Las Vegas (aside from being, in my humble opinion, wholly tasteless) is the home of a number of artefacts dredged up from the resting place of so many unfortunate souls. This has probably led to a number of ghostly sightings.
There is a woman clad in black period attire that wanders the grand staircase, she has been seen by employees and visitors alike. She most famously was spotted by a photographer who was shooting the opening of the exhibition. During setup, he spotted the woman wandering along a roped off part of the staircase, assuming she was part of the exhibit he paid no mind and asked if she would like her photograph taken. She ignored him and he continued with his business, seconds later he was startled to find her directly behind him, after asking again to take her picture she vanished.
Character assassination isn’t my thing. I wasn’t there and I can’t know for sure how things went down but the story goes that Bruce Ismay, one of the Titanic’s builders, was on board during the sinking. Witnesses say he managed to push his was onto a lifeboat ahead of the Women and Children and allegedly insisted the ship speed up after the iceberg warnings were received.
Doesn’t seem quite the ticket but like I say, I’m not here to judge.
Well, at The Luxor Exhibition, they have a portrait of Bruce Ismay hung up. One morning as the crew arrived for work they had found the portrait lying on the floor. A manager took it upon himself to check the previous nights CCTV and saw the painting shaking before falling to the floor apparently by itself.
The Resting Place
The location of the wreck itself is said to have ghostly occurrences. Ships and Submarines near the site report seeing orbs of light darting below the waves and hearing strange sounds while close to the area. Radio interference also occurs along with, horrifyingly, SOS messages which have no verifiable source.
In 1977, Second Office Leonard Bishop of the SS Winterhaven was giving a tour to a group of passengers. One of these passengers was a soft spoken British gentlemen who asked a lot of well informed questions. This seemed odd to Bishop but thought nothing more of it. A few years later he was shown a photo of Captain Edward Smith to which Bishop announced “I know that man, I gave him a tour of my boat.” His companion laughed and said, “Impossible! That man was the captain of the Titanic.”