Category Archives: Titanic Photos and Memoriabilia

One Hundredth Anniversary Titanic Voyage

Two years ago, Bruce Caplan asked me to fill in for him on a special Royal Caribbean voyage out of Southampton, the very port from which the ill-fated RMS Titanic set sail on April 10, 1912. The Independence of the Seas cruise director had requested a Titanic author to provide a series of informative talks to mark the sailing of the famous luxury liner one hundred years to the day.  When my wife Donna and I flew to London, as we had just been there the six months earlier, we decided to time our arrival on the same day of the departure of the Independence of the Seas for its eleven day voyage to the Canary Islands and return.

The Queen Mary 2 at port in Southampton. This is where the Titanic left from on her maiden voyage.

The Queen Mary 2 at port in Southampton. This is where the Titanic left from on her maiden voyage.

The Maritime Museum in Lisbon Portugal may just be the finest in the world. This was one of our port days and really worth the time.

The Maritime Museum in Lisbon Portugal may just be the finest in the world. This was one of our port days and really worth the time.

By Ken Rossignol

Titanic Speakers Bureau

Ken on Independence of the Seas

Ken Rossignol on The Independence of The Seas

Being at sea with a series of talks about the history, the people, the heroes of the Titanic was not only an exceptional honor and challenge but a thrill to be asked to bring the story alive in a way consistent with history and at the same time, to be meaningful to a modern audience. The huge Independence of The Seas is in many ways, a modern Titanic, with the chief difference being that this ship made it past its maiden voyage, without being on fire or sinking.

Southampton is a bustling city and one of the chief ports in the UK and Europe just as it was in 1912.

Southampton is a bustling city and one of the chief ports in the UK and Europe just as it was in 1912.

The similarities for the passengers is truly in the imagination. Imagining the grand staircase down which Mrs. J.J. Brown, the newly minted millionaire, flowed with her Missourian dignity intact, brings to mind the equally grand appointments of the Independence of the Seas.  The three-story dining room with a grand piano to entertain during the evening meal harkens back to the plush dining room that seated hundreds on the Titanic.

Plenty of room, plenty of tables, plenty of food on the grand Independence of The Seas, one of Royal Caribbean's majestic ships.  The Chesapeake photos

Plenty of room, plenty of tables, plenty of food on the grand Independence of The Seas, one of Royal Caribbean’s majestic ships. The Chesapeake photos

The Independence of the Seas voyage had a majority of Brits traveling on their Easter season trip to warmth and sunshine in Spain and the Canaries. The voyage of the Titanic to New York two hundred years earlier certainly lacked any warm weather but it held the promise of reaching a land of opportunity and hope for so many who had sold their last belongings to get a fresh start in America and Canada.

Musicians entertain at dinner on the Independence of the Seas.

Musicians entertain at dinner on the Independence of the Seas.

As we traveled to ports in Portugal, Spain and the Canaries as well as Madeira, our sea days were the times in which my enrichment sessions on the Titanic were held. It is quite a challenge to go up against bingo and belly flop contests, which are often the chief entertainment on other ships, but this British crowd were a bit more intense as was the weather. Thus with as many as three hundred and fifty earnest listeners in attendance, I did the best I could to explain how the Titanic had been on fire from the time the ship left Southampton.

Barbara and Malcolm Lock of London serve the board of the National Maritime Museum and offered invaluable insights of the British experience of the Titanic. They joined us every day for breakfast in the grand dining room.

Barbara and Malcolm Lock of London serve the board of the National Maritime Museum and offered invaluable insights of the British experience of the Titanic. They joined us every day for breakfast in the grand dining room.

There had been a coal strike during the winter of 1911 and 1912 and coal was hoarded for this important maiden voyage. The final preparations of the ship had been delayed in order to provide repairs to the Olympic which had been damaged in a collision with the British cruiser Hawk. Therefore, an important protocol had not been followed, that of keeping the stored coal dampened. When the ship left port, deep down in the bowels of coal bunker number six, the coal self-ignited, as coal can do. Those who have BBQ grill charcoal at home should be cautious to keep their charcoal in a metal can with a lid on it or the same could happen to you. Many a shed fire has likely been blamed on electrical wiring when the truth might be that of spontaneous combustion of a bag of charcoal.
Ken Titanic graphic

In any event, we know this startling information due to the testimony of the surviving crewmen of the Titanic who told the American and British hearings about what caused the ship had to sink about the fire.

The arrival of the passengers of the Titanic in New York was very different from that of passengers of the sister ship Olympic for the year leading up to April of 1912. This was the scene of the wait for the survivors in New York City.

The arrival of the passengers of the Titanic in New York was very different from that of passengers of the sister ship Olympic for the year leading up to April of 1912. This was the scene of the wait for the survivors in New York City.

Mr. J. Dilley of the Titanic said at the United States Senate Commerce Committee hearing in New York City, as was reported in the New York World the following day, that a crew of 12 had fought the fire in four hour shifts, around the clock. “We had made no headway,” he said. “We thought when we arrived in New York and got the passengers off, that we would have to bring a fireboat alongside to get the fire out.”

Perhaps the sculptor who created this gem had read Bram Stoker's Dracula before he decorated this building in La Corona.

Perhaps the sculptor who created this gem had read Bram Stoker’s Dracula before he decorated this building in La Corona.

What is the significance of the fire?  The fire burned the coal bunker six sidewalls in the same exact place where the ship came into collision with the iceberg and we had a vivid lesson in what heat does to metal when the hijacked airliners flew into the World Trade Center in 2001. More of the fire is covered in Bruce Caplan’s book, The Sinking of the Titanic and in my book, Titanic 1912.

"Be British" - The last words of the Titanic's master, Capt. E. J. Smith

“Be British” – The last words of the Titanic’s master, Capt. E. J. Smith


Titanic Poetry

After the great disaster, people across America, from all walks of life, were devastated with grief and shock. America was a very different place with a much higher degree of literacy. That included an everyday appreciation of poetry. Thus it was natural for people to sit down at their kitchen table and pen a poem about the Titanic.

What did they do with their verses?  They mailed them to their local newspapers for publication. As a result, newspapers across America used these poems as letters, or poems, to the Editor. Some were featured, some were simply fillers.

One especially haughty rag, The New York Times, was inundated with so many poems that the snooty editor proclaimed to his readers that simply because one owns a piece of paper and a pencil does not make one a poet! Stop sending those poems to us, we get hundreds a day!

Imagine any newspaper in the 21st century receiving hundreds of anything from its dwindling readership.

But that was life in the early part of the Twentieth Century. As a part of my research on the Titanic for my book, Titanic 1912, I kept bumping into these poems and finally figured out the above, as to how there came to be so many poems about the Titanic. I decided to compile a new book with many of these poems from one hundred years ago, along with my own humble verses.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy the new audio edition of my book, Titanic, Poetry, Music & Stories. The book is also in eBook and paperback. There are links in the book which will take you directly to the Library of Congress where you can listen to these whacky tunes, perfectly preserved, on the old Victrola records – about the Titanic. Some are blue grass, others are piano memorials, some are vocalists. All of them express in song and music, the amazement at the scope of the tragedy and the depth of feelings of people about the loss of the RMS Titanic as well as honoring the people who went down and those who survived.

Please contact me about our great speakers who can give your convention, dinner or themed event a memorable addition. – Ken Rossignol 301 535 8624 /

Honour to the Brave The Sphere May 4 1912

Titanic Poetry Music & Stories rev


Kyrila Scully shares stories of strength and survival from the Titanic disaster.

By Peter Hawkins, special correspondent

Sun Sentinel

If you’re passing the band shell at Old School Square in Delray Beach one Saturday afternoon in May, you might see a lady wearing an Edwardian long satin dress topped by a wide-brimmed hat set on a rakish angle, describing her miraculous escape from the Titanic.

It’s none other than Kyrila Scully of Boynton Beach, portraying the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, perhaps the most colorful survivor of the mighty liner that sank 90 years ago this month.

Scully is so steeped in the most famous maiden voyage since Noah launched his ark, that school children call her the “Titanic Mom.”  She will again impersonate Molly–or Margaret Brown as she was known in her lifetime–May 18 as part of Delray Beach  Preservations Week.

Scully, 47, takes her “Titanic Nights”** exhibition to schools, churches, condos and civic events, and writes and performs monologues about the survivors.  In addition to playing Molly Brown, she impersonates first-class stewardess Violet Jessop and second-class passenger Lutie Parrish in her best Kentucky accent:

“Thee, lawd!  Look at all the people here today!” she exclaims.  “Welcome aboard!  I’m Mrs. Samuel Parrish, but you can call me Lutie.”

“She’s in total character when she plays these people,” said Sandra LaHair, who runs an Edwardian and Victorian costume business with Scully called Grand Staircase.

Scully is self-publishing TITANIC: THE SURVIVORS–A MANIFEST OF THE LIFEBOATS this month.  The book places survivors in lifeboats and traces the stories of their escape from the doomed ship, which started to sink on April 14, 1912, and went down after midnight.

Also this month, Scully and LaHair are leading a party to mark the anniversary of the tragic voyage with special events at the Orlando museum, TITANIC–SHIP OF DREAMS.  The lease on the museum, which features a full-scale recreation of the ship’s grand staircase, ends in August, and Scully is campaigning to move it to Palm Beach County.  The museum hasn’t found a suitable location yet.

For LaHair, the sinking has a message for today.

“People lost their lives foolishly out of pride,” she said.  “It was touted as unsinkable, as if to fly in the face of God.  They thought God couldn’t sink her.  Well, he could.”

Scully sees the parallel with the events of Sept. 11.

“There are so many correlations with 9-11,” she said.  “It says a lot about the arrogance of technology.  It’s similar to the Challenger disaster, too.  In each case, ice warnings were ignored.  Ice brought down the Challenger and ice brought down the Titanic.”

Scully has been interested with the vessel for almost 40 years.  Her condo in Boynton Beach is like a shrine to the liner, with a life belt that was a prop for the film, TITANIC, scale models of the ship, and memorabilia that includes two tiny pieces of coal brought up from the seabed of the wreck.

In a curious way, the preoccupation was her lifesaver.  At the age of 8, she went through a traumatic experience she still can’t talk about.  Two things in 1964 helped her: One was the Beatles.  The other was a movie about the disaster, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER.  She got over the Beatles, but she’s still under the Titanic’s spell.

“It was inspirational,” she said.  “I thought, if they could survive that, I could survive what I was going through.”

Through the Titanic, she has helped students see their way through personal crises.  Scully answers students’ questions on a Titanic Web site.

“I’ve shown how the Titanic helped me to cope with problems I had growing up by showing them life lessons from the Titanic.”

**  (Kyrila’s note: The name TITANIC NIGHTS has been changed to TITANIC IMPACT PERFORMANCE EXHIBITS.  Also—not true—I didn’t “get over” the Beatles.  I’m still a big fan.)

Sun Sentinel Article

Photo by Staff Photographer Mark Randall

Titanic explorers…and graverobbers

Dr. Robert Ballard found the wreck of the Titanic and after twenty years  of watching on the sidelines about how the wreck was desecrated and looted, he paused when asked for comment. He said that he never envisioned that such damage would be done to the wreckage and the contents removed. He said that he wants to visit historic sites and not see the artifacts removed.

Titanic stern, props and rudder

The ship was in pretty good shape when it left here – remark of an Irish official at the Belfast Titanic Museum. This section of the stern of the ship shows the massive rudder and props. A 17 ton section of the hull was raised and put on display to tourists, along with personal items that were on the bodies of those who perished.

From The National Post

Titanic anniversary: Artifacts auction draws accusations of grave robbery

(Jan. 28, 2012) — On April 15, on the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic’s sinking, an auction house in New York will sell off $185-million-worth of items salvaged from the wreck: Eye-glasses, antique currency, jewellery, clothing and — the pièce de resistance — a 17-tonne section of the hull ripped clean in the ship’s final violent moments.

In Halifax, the burial place of 150 Titanic victims, news of the auction prompted disgust.

“We’re into preserving and documenting — not into pillaging,” Lynn-Marie Richard, registrar for the city’s Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, told The Chronicle Herald.

The man who located the Titanic sitting upright at the bottom of the Atlantic would agree.

In 1985, only hours after he had spotted the wreck, Robert Ballard took a call from a curious ABC reporter, who asked if the legendary ship could ever be raised from the depths.

“Absolutely not,” he replied.

“In fact I would like to go and try to ensure that this memorial to 1,500 souls is left the way it is.”

Only months later, a fully equipped salvage crew set sail for Mr. Ballard’s coordinates.

Titanic survivors called them “thieves” and “pirates,” and Mr. Ballard condemned the salvagers for “perpetuating” the tragedy.

Decades later, has the taboo of “graverobbing” worn off?

Almost from the minute it sank, the Royal Mail Ship Titanic was a target for souvenir hunters. Scavengers stole nameplates and oars from the ship’s lifeboats as soon as they were dropped off in New York.

In 2008, a bloody life jacket believed to have been pulled from the body of a floating victim sold for $53,000.

Edmund Stone, a Titanic steward whose body was discovered by the Canadian cable ship Mackay-Bennett, has yielded more than $250,000 of souvenirs, including a set of keys and a silver pocket watch stopped at 2:16 a.m., the moment the 33-year-old was tipped into the icy waters of the north Atlantic.

Under a 1994 ruling by the Eastern District of Virginia, salvage rights over the wreck belong exclusively to RMS Titanic Inc., a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions. In seven expeditions to the site, the private company has pulled up 6,000 artifacts.

Eva Hart was seven years old and bound for a new life in Winnipeg when her father died in the disaster.

“To bring up those things from a mass sea grave just to make a few thousand pounds shows a dreadful insensitivity and greed,” she said in 1987, just as the first salvage expedition was setting sail.

Amid charges RMS Titanic Inc. is causing damage to the wreck site, the International Congress of Maritime Museums has barred its members from exhibiting any Titanic artifact salvaged after 1990.   READ MORE

Watch this video:

RMS Titanic – the technology

The Titanic was the second in the Olympic Class for White Star Line and left port from Southampton on Wednesday, April 10th, 1912 for New York, stopping at Cherborg, France and Queenstown, Ireland.

The technology on the ship was state of the art and designed to move large numbers of people comfortably across the North Atlantic in a year when over 200,000 passengers were carried back and forth in ships.

Costa Concordia crew member described panic and confusion after ship hit reef

From Yahoo UK News

November 25, 2013 — A Costa Concordia crew member broke down in tears as she told a court how she was ordered to tell passengers “everything was under control” after the packed luxury cruise ship was fatally damaged as it struck rocks.

Deputy cabin services director, Jacqueline Abad Quine, was on duty the night the ship hit the reefs after its captain Francesco Schettino altered course to carry out a “sail-by salute” of an island.

She was later seen in video footage trying to reassure passengers, who had gathered on decks close to lifeboat stations.

She described to the hearing the scene of panic and confusion in the minutes following the incident.

Mrs Quine said: “I was ordered to tell the passengers everything was under control. I was told to say that there was a blackout and everyone should return to their cabins and that things would be returning to normal as quickly as possible.

“But people were agitated and worried – they wanted to get onto the lifeboats but the order didn’t come. When the passengers got to the muster stations I was told to try and calm them down, to reassure them.”

More than 4,000 passengers and crew – including 35 Britons – were onboard the Costa Concordia when it struck an underwater reef off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio just hours after setting sail on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise in January last year.

Mrs Quine broke down in tears as she told the hearing in the Italian town of Grosseto: “I made announcements in English, Spanish and Italian. I called my boss and he said the crew were frightening the passengers with what they were saying.

“Children were hugging their parents, two little ones lost and were trying to find them. Reliving everything again now is really hard for me. The passengers wanted to get onboard the lifeboats.

“They were pushing each other, trying to get on but we didn’t have the order to let them get onboard. I had to tell everyone that there was an electrical problem and everything was going to return to normal.    READ MORE

Luxury at sea: Titanic set a new standard for travel

Daily Graphic spendors of the Titanic

Competition between the illustrated newspapers of London was intense. This page was part of a special section in the Daily Graphic of London which was published only five days after the ship went down. Given the tools available, it was an amazing feat.

The Sphere Luxurious writing and reading room on Titanic

This page is from the Sphere of London and was also published just five days after the sinking of the Titanic. The Olympic class ships can be best described as the 747’s of the era, designed to carry a lot of freight and people while the Lusitania class ships of the Cunard line were designed for speed, much like the now-retired Concorde.

Newspaper coverage of the Sinking of the Titanic

A grim teacher Richmond Times Dispatch April 23, 1912

History is a grim teacher. This editorial cartoon refers to the loss of over 1,000 lives in the fire in New York harbor of the Slocum tour boat, the Iroquois Theatre fire and the Titanic. Richmond Times Dispatch April 23, 1912

A night to remember, new probe

Lowering of the boats The Sphere of London

This graphic was created in one week’s time for the Sunday edition of The Sphere of London as part of that newspaper’s reporting on the sinking of the Titanic.

Icebergs lesson The Sphere

Danger field of fog and ice middle view

Be sure to show your 21st century children this graphic. It is NOT a photo from space…it came from the mind of an artist, using maps and wireless reports, showing ice bergs and fog which lay in wait for ships crossing the Atlantic.

The Sphere amazing graphic showing positions of other ships

In 1912, without benefit of GPS or satellite imagery, an artist at desk in the newsroom of The Sphere of London conceived and drew up this diagram of the positions of ships at the time of the Titanic sinking. The only tool were the reports of those positions by wireless.

William Thomas Stead went down with the ship, Journalist and Editor

Famous English journalist W. T. Stead went down with the ship; today’s top news reporters would have been the first in the lifeboats.

London The Sphere page 49 photos

Photos and graphics of the Titanic which appeared in the Sphere of London

London The Sphere how wireless works page 1

How wireless worked on the Titanic. The Sphere of London

The Sphere lifeboat davits

Lifeboat davits on the Titanic. The Sphere of London

The Sphere of London The last phase of the sinking

The expeditions to the bottom of the ocean confirm that this artist’s conception of the final moments were wrong. Some witnesses related the correct breaking of the ship while this graphic shows the deadly plunge.

London The Sphere greatest wreck photos of people  Nova Scotia archives

Adrift in an open boat cartoon San Francisco

This editorial cartoon appeared in the San Francisco Examiner and cited greed on the part of the White Star Line in not having enough lifeboats. Actually, the line could easily have afforded the extra $16,000 for 32 more lifeboats but it was the arrogance of Bruce Ismay to not wanting to have his deck cluttered with boats that prevented the boats from being provided.

Bruce Ismay says his conscience is clear headline in News Leader

Politicians and top bananas of industry, labor and finance can be pretty arrogant today, but they were in 1912 as well as shown in this Richmond News Leader headline.

Christian Science Monitor says all are safe

This article appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and echoed wrong information which was also front page in the Washington Post and London Daily Mail.

Honour to the Brave The Sphere May 4 1912    London The Sphere how wireless works page 1

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Welcome to the RMS Titanic Speakers Bureau – Rate Information

Welcome to the Titanic Speakers Bureau; the home of some of the foremost authorities, historians and authors of the RMS Titanic alive today. From Daniel Allen Butler, Bruce M. Caplan, Wade Sisson, Ken Rossignol, to Capt. E. J. Smith actor Lowell Lytle and the great-grand-daughter of the Unsinkable Molly Brown – Helen Benziger.

The Titanic Speakers Bureau will enable you to learn more about our wonderful speakers, read of their travels, books, and views on one of the most enduring stories of all times and of perhaps the greatest sea disaster known to modern history – the voyage of the White Star Liner RMS Titanic.

Various speakers such as Tammy Knox and Robert W. Walker, are also fantasy and fiction writers with the ability to use their creative genius to bring the story of the Titanic alive using genres of horror and mysteries to enhance and develop the actual history of the ship.

Contact Ken Rossignol at 301 535 8624,  for rates for speakers. Typically, speakers charge between $800 and $2,000 depending on the arrangements.  Airfare from speaker’s nearest airport to the event, transportation to the hotel and to the event as well as hotel rates apply. Helen Benziger travels with a service dog, who is quiet and enjoys attending formal dinners.