Alderney residents flocked to see Titanic pass by

YOU would have to have been living under a rock not to know this month was the anniversary of the sinking of a certain large ship.

Alderney residents flocked to see Titanic pass by

YOU would have to have been living under a rock not to know this month was the anniversary of the sinking of a certain large ship.

And there were few places that didn't jump on the Titanic bandwagon. Even Guernsey has staged an offering, a replica Titanic cabin.

Tiny Alderney didn't – although, unexpectedly, it might have had cause to.

Because after the White Star Line leviathan heaved off its dock in 1912, among the first people to see it sailing by were the residents of Alderney.

The memory is fading now – it has been 100 years, after all – but there are still several people with passed-down recollections of the night the Titanic steamed past.

The liner's first port of call after Southampton was Cherbourg and according to islanders at the time, there was great excitement about it sailing past Alderney. Former States member Eileen Sykes, who is now in her 80s, remembers her grandfather, Thomas Wilkes Burland, telling her all about that magical time.

'People have queried it but the Titanic did pass by Alderney, there's no doubt about that whatsoever. I heard it more than once from my grandfather, who saw it.

'She sailed from Southampton to Cherbourg, where more passengers joined the ship, and that is how it passed Alderney. He said it sailed quite close to the shore and was perfectly visible. There were no shipping lanes then.

'It was a still evening and they could hear the band playing on board. He said he could hear beautiful music coming from it and that the ship was illuminated.'

She said it was quite likely that everyone would have been looking forward to the spectacle and said he described how people flocked to the Butes, which overlooks Crabby Bay and the harbour.

'I remember the first Queen Mary passing on her maiden voyage in the 1930s and even then Alderney was not such a backwater that you wouldn't get to hear that the ship was going to sail from Southampton to Cherbourg,' she explained.

Pat Martel remembers her mother, Babs Hammond, telling her about the time she saw the Titanic when she was a young child.

'She was eight years old and her mother took her down to the Butes and they saw it pass quite close,' she says.

'She said a great many islanders went down to see it go past. She told me that the whole family went and I think half the island went. They had a wonderful view of it. It must have been quite a moment.'

It must indeed.

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