Another day, another Titanic documentary. Like Henry VIII, Titanic has an inexhaustible supply of documentaries. This is a docu-drama about what it took to attempt to save the Titanic. It is called Saving the Titanic. It about the crew members who tried to save the ship. In the days after the Titanic’s sinking, the heroism of the crew took center stage. The surviving crew members were subpoenaed for their testimony during the Titanic Inquiry. This docu-drama is based on the words of the surviving crew members.
Their story opens with practicing a lifeboat drill, which consists of the men getting called to lifeboats and just standing in the engine room before being ordered back to work. Titanic is undergoing sea trials and the engine room is under the command of Thomas Bell. His younger son, an engineer is demonstrating his knowledge of the engines for Bell who is impressed by the lad’s knowledge. He continues to tour the engine room and leads the engineer to the boiler room.
A pair of engineers climb up the fourth funnel to see the crowds that are sending Titanic off on her maiden voyage. The Fourth Funnel was a dummy funnel because the public associated four funnels with speed. Lusitania and Mauretania had four funnels and they were the greyhounds of the sea. The Titanic clears the ship of its visitors before setting off on the maiden voyage. The Titanic plans to sail at noon. Thomas Bell’s son leaves the ship while Bell investigates a coal fire. This was a common occurrence in the age of steam. The Titanic had loaded up cheap coal into the ship as the result of the coal strike occurring at the time.
The narrator talks about the working men who staffed the engine rooms. Four out of five members of the crew came out of Southhampton. When the Titanic went down, it had a devastating effect on the community. Every school-aged child in Southhampton lost someone on the Titanic when it went down in April 1912. The engine room and boiler room crew were housed in the front of the ship, another clear picture of the class structure on Titanic. Titanic’s construction began in 1909 in Belfast. It was born out of the conflict between the Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. These tensions boiled over to the crew. There were fights between the Protestant and Catholic crew members. Bell intervenes reminding the crew that he will not tolerate fighting on the ship. If the crew was caught fighting, they would be punished with double shifts. In one instance a man was punished with eight hours in the coal bunker.
The producers of this documentary did a fantastic job recreating the engine room and boiler room of the Titanic as well as showing the conditions the men worked under. The actors did a job of portraying the crew members who worked in the bowels of the Titanic. It was also fascinating to learn about the issues that the crew members brought with them when they boarded the Titanic to work. This is a documentary that does not focus on the rich and famous on board the Titanic but the working men who stoked the fires.
To continue to learn more about what it took to save the Titanic continue to watch the documentary.
This would be another fantastic documentary to show in the classroom. You could pair it with Waking the Titanic or a documentary about the discovery of the Titanic. If a student was researching Titanic for a project then you could point them to this documentary and the other ones I am sharing on this blog.
You can access the YouTube video here.
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