10th April 1912

Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass

The ill-fated, supposedly unsinkable Titanic passed Alderney on the evening of 10 April 1912. She was heading for the Atlantic a few hours after picking up passengers at Cherbourg.

Among those who had boarded at the French port was Margaret Tobin, better known as Molly Brown. She was immortalised in James Cameron’s 1997 film, Titanic, in which she was played by Kathy Bates.

RMS Titanic

Titanic makes a close pass

Rather than pass between the Channel Islands, the captain, Edward Smith, plotted a course north, by Braye Harbour. The sea that night was so calm that Alderney residents who had gathered on the harbour and coast to watch the ship pass could reportedly hear music coming from on-board. Titanic was illuminated along her full length. This gave the locals on Alderney for a very clear view, where the harbour master let off fireworks to celebrate the passing.

Fourteen Guernsey residents died in the RMS Titanic’s sinking, making up almost 1% of the 1503 total victims. Almost all of the dead were wearing life jackets when the ship went down. However, the lifeboats were, famously, under-occupied, and many of the deceased were killed by hypothermia.

Titanic commemoration

Guernsey Post released a series of six Alderney stamps in February 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. The 47p stamp, designed by Devon artist Nick Watton, showed it sailing past Braye Harbour. One firework is exploding above it as it heads for Queenstown, today called Cobh, in southern Ireland.

Other stamps in the collection show it leaving Southampton harbour (36p), its grand staircase (48p), the orchestra continuing to play as the ship began to sink (52p), Captain Edward Smith, who was commanding his last voyage before retirement (61p) and one of the lifeboats moving away from the sinking boat.

The Royal Mint issued a non-circulating £5 Alderney coin in 2012. 7500 of the silver pieces were minted in total. It showed Titanic leaving Southampton and a silhouette of the Thame memorial in Belfast on one side, and the queen’s head on the other.


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