One hundred years ago, on this day, hundreds of people in the city of Southampton were waiting anxiously for news of their loved ones. My Great Nan was a child one hundred years ago today, so hopefully knew little of the distress her mother was going through, as she waited patiently for news of my Great Great Uncle, Mr Christopher Light, who had 3 days earlier checked in for work aboard Titanic.
I am originally from the Southampton area, as are most of my ancestors. Coming from the area, it is
little surprise that my family were touched by the disaster of Titanic, as nearly 600 people from the area were crew aboard the doomed maiden voyage, which left from Southampton Dock on April 12th.
Christopher Light was 21 and a humble ‘fireman’, which basically meant he shovelled coal into the fires which kept the boilers producing steam to keep the ships engines running. He, along with many of his friends and colleagues, stood very little chance of survival, and his body was never recovered – probably cocooned inside the depth of the hull of the huge ship.
Leading up to today there have been many films and documentaries shown on TV to commemorate the century of Titanic’s one and only journey. Some have been factual engineering programmes about the ship, many highlight the first class passengers and the opulence aboard Titanic, and a few have demonstrated the human tragedy which touched so many peoples lives.
Over the years I have become mildly obsessed with Titanic and have gathered information and facts about Titanic. Here are some of the more interesting……I promise not a word about the weight or length of the great ship.
*The moment Titanic went down all the crew were technically sacked. Pay stopped immediately, and any surviving crew had no work, money or means of getting back home. I saw on a documentary recently that Woolworth’s gave some of the surviving crew the opportunity to work behind their cash desks, and allowed them to keep any profits they took so they could pay for their passage home.
*In a time when instant telecommunication was still a future fantasy, many family members and friends waited at the offices of Titanic’s owners, The White Star Line, both in London and Southampton. Several different reports came back before the news that everyone was dreading was confirmed. The early news indicated that the ship had been involved in an incident, but was being towed to Halifax and all aboard were safe.
*Titanic had a state of the art Marconi Communications Room, but like anything, technology is only as good as the humans operating it. Therefore, it was a small miracle that the survivors aboard the lifeboats were found, as the last report from Titanic reported it over 9 miles from its actual position.
*All aboard, from the crew to the first class passengers, enjoyed hearty food. The First Class Passengers enjoyed particularly opulent offerings, including 10 course evening meals. The day prior to the ship sinking, April 14th, the evening menu include Apple Meringue. And that’s where I got my inspiration for my baked tribute to Titanic.
The Titanic disaster changed the world forever. No longer was trust put wholeheartedly into industry and massive engineering. Safety was reviewed and although there will still be devastating accidents at sea, none will be ever be the terrifying surprise that Titanic was.
Apple Meringue Cupcakes
Vanilla Sponge Cupcake Batter ( I used Victoria Sponge)
2 White Egg Whites
100 gms sugar
75 ml water
Preheat your oven according to your recipe and line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases
Mix the cake batter
Peel and core the apples, and cut into 1cm cubes
Mix the apples, with a large spoon, into the mix
Fill your cupcake cases 2/3s full and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick stuck into the centre of a cake comes out clean)
When baked, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool
When the cakes are cool prepare the meringue frosting by putting the sugar and water in a heavy bottom saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
When the sugar has been boiling for 3 minutes, whisk the egg whites until double in size.
Reduce the speed of the mixer and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg white. Be careful – sugar syrup it very very hot!
Continue to whisk until the eggs have quadrupled in size.
The frosting is now ready to be piped or spread onto the cakes. For extra effect, if you have a blow torch, give the frosting a burst to caramelise them, but beware, don’t set the cupcake cases alight.