In 1896, 22 year old Italian, Guglielmo Marconi, revolutionized communications with his system of wireless messaging, which enabled short messages to be sent by Morse code over long distances without using telegraph cables.
The ship’s Marconi radio was cutting edge technology that transmitted 3218 kilometres.
The Marconi transmitter coil produces 20,000 volts that will jump across two electrodes, creating a spark. The energy from the spark is then fed to an aerial, which transmits the signal by radio waves to a receiver. Messages are sent using Morse Code.
A Marconi radio is the last piece of equipment that the Titanic would have operated as the Titanic slipped under the waves.
The Titanic's wireless equipment was also being used as a premium passenger service. Passengers' messages would have been sent through the private messaging service that was also offered by the Marconi Company. A 'Marconigram' to America cost a minimum of 12 shillings for the first ten words - almost $60 in today's money.
TITANIC’S RESCUE FLARES
Titanic’s fourth officer, Joseph Boxall, said he fired a total of eight flares.
Titanic’s rescue flares exploded with a loud report, metres into the air.
Crewmembers on board the Californian saw all of Titanic’s flares, but in the absence of an international standard for distress flare signals, there was confusion as to what Titanic's white rockets actually meant.
Titanic's distress flares were made by the Cotton Powder Company of London.
In 1912, around 400 skilled men and women worked in the Cotton Powder Company factory, making everything from armaments to marine flares.
After Titanic's sinking, it was recommended that red flares should be used as the international signal of distress.
Modern flares reach over 300 metres, lasts up to three minutes, and can be seen from over 48 kilometres away.
TITANIC’S LIFEJACKETS AND LIFEBOATS
The Titanic had 20 lifeboats.
Titanic had one lifejacket for each of the three and a half thousand people on board.
Hypothermia could set in within minutes of being in the Atlantic’s icy waters.
Since the mid-19th century, cork had been the favoured material to use in lifejackets. In 1912, the Board of Trade safety regulations demanded that a minimum of 2.5 kilograms was packed into each jacket.
SINKING OF THE TITANIC
On April the 14th at 10.55 PM, Titanic received a message warning them that they were surrounded by ice, but the message was rebuffed.
On April the 14th 1912, four days into Titanic's voyage to New York, Titanic received ice reports from other ships, warning of danger ahead in the North Atlantic. A number of these ice reports were delivered during the day to Captain Smith.
At 11:35 PM, the Californian's wireless operator finished his shift and went to bed. Five minutes later, Titanic struck an iceberg. The Californian was less than 32 kilometres away. But, with no operator on duty, she was deaf to Titanic's cries for help.
The last distress message is claimed to have been sent from Titanic at 2:17 AM on April the 15th, as the ship went down.
Almost two hours after the last distress message was sent to telegraph stations in North America, the Carpathia arrived at the site of the sinking.
The New York Times was the first newspaper to break the biggest story in decades. The journalists were monitoring the dispatches from the Marconi land station, and they worked out with a bit of good journalist detective work, that the ship had probably gone down.
EFFECTS ON SOUTHAMPTON
Of Titanic’s 898 crew, nearly 700 had come from Southampton and 549 of them never returned.
In one Southampton school, 120 of the 240 children on the roll lost their fathers.
A relief fund was set up for the families who had been left without their major breadwinners. The Daily Mail launched an appeal and raised £57,000 within five weeks.
On April the 22nd, 1914, two years after her sinking, huge crowds attended the unveiling of the Titanic Engineers Memorial in the centre of Southampton.