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Ealing and the Titanic

There may seem to be no connection with Ealing and the sinking of the RMS Titanic 100 years ago in April 1912, which resulted in a large loss of life.

But it also resulted in many of the survivors losing all their possessions, and furthermore, families of crewmen and passengers were often left without their main breadwinner.

Many places in Britain responded to this disaster in order to alleviate these sufferings.

On 20 April 1912 the editorial of The Middlesex County Times concerned the Titanic, ‘The greatest disaster on the high seas ever recorded in the annals of the Mercantile Marine’. It discussed how even the greatest inventions of Man wilted under the force of Nature and so this loss was ‘a blow to the complacency of the human intelligence’. The editorial a week later discussed the forthcoming inquiry into the disaster.

Meanwhile, Ealing Council called a special meeting to discuss what should be done. They decided to open a subscription in which people and businesses gave money. By the end of May this had resulted in almost £400 being raised. Money came from collecting tins in the town hall and shops, as well as from individuals. There were charity performances at The Grand Theatre at Hanwell and at Victoria Hall in Ealing.

Boy Scouts collected money by rattling boxes in the main streets. A sheepdog’s box raised £8. Ealing Conservative Club gave money from its own funds and encouraged members to do likewise.

There were whist drives in Southall to help raise money, too, while The Princess Helena School, a private boarding school for girls in Ealing, took in daughters of two of the ship’s officers who drowned.

Sermons were preached in various churches. The Ealing Congregational Church featured a sermon which cast scorn on the over indulgence of the super-rich and on the emphasis of speed which, it was claimed, had caused the ship’s downfall. Acton Council passed a resolution to express their sympathy ‘particularly with those residents, who, unhappily, lost relatives and friends by such disaster’.

A far cry from the high seas, perhaps, but an event that caused ripples even in becalmed suburbia.


Owen George Allum was an 18-year-old gardener from Southall. He was born in Falmouth, Cornwall, in 1894 but had moved to 22 Oswald Road, Southall.

He embarked the Titanic as a third-class passenger in Southampton on 10 April, 1912 – holding ticket number 2,223. It had cost him £8 and six shillings, so he could meet up with his father William, already in New York.

He was no doubt full of hope about a new life, but died five days later on 15 April when the ship sank. His body was recovered from the sea and taken to Boston as ‘body 259’ before finally being identified.

His description was given as:

  • Hair – Dark
  • Clothing – Grey tweed suit
  • Effects – Gun-metal watch and chain; hair brush; two knives; cigarette case; pocketbook.

His body was brought back to England on 17 May and was subsequently interred in the Clewer Parish Churchyard, Windsor.

Marius Petersen, 24, also died. He was a dairyman of 73 West End Road, Southall, and was a third-class passenger. A page boy, Charles Turvey, 16, and Ernest Rice, 17, barman, also perished. They lived at 1 Apsley Villa, Acton.

This originally appeared in Around Ealing May 2012

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