Historian Roger Bingham, of Ackenthwaite, surveys the local impact of the Titanic disaster 100 years ago this month.

April 1912 would have been a big news month even if the north Atlantic iceberg had not sunk the unsinkable Titanic, the world’s biggest ship.

Chilling tales of the recent death of Captain Scott’s polar expedition were still current, while at home everybody shivered because a miner’s strike had closed all the nation’s pits except, it was claimed, Ingleton Colliery.

A brighter report came from Satterthwaite, where Alfred Jenkinson had been given a cheerful send off as he was emigrating to Canada.

Like many of the Titanic’s 698 third class passengers he may well have been lured by adverts (which appeared also in the Gazette) promising prosperity in the New World - providing, of course, you got there!

Only two victims were believed to have local connections. They were a survivor, George Harris, of Parkgate, Coniston and Alfred Latimer, a steward, who was drowned. Though he lived in Liverpool, Lati-mer hailed from Lancaster and had visited his sister at Tebay. Even so, the Gazette’s editorial declared the ‘Titanic disaster overshadows every other interest’.

Some were quick to fix the blame. Mrs Bagot, of Levens Hall, told a Women’s Unionist meeting that it ‘was a perfect crime to leave a ship with too few life boats’ so that the loss of the 1,635 lives was ‘greater than at the Battle of Trafalgar’.

Mercifully, the tragedy had been ‘alleviated by the self-forgetfulness of the crew’ and by men from millionaires like Colonel Astor to humble deck hands letting women into the lifeboats first.

Even the most notorious survivor Mr Ismay, chairman of the liner’s White Star Line, was commended for helping three female crew, even though ‘we said we were only stewardesses’ before he himself jumped onto the prow of the lifeboat. But 50 other stewardesses perished.

Curiously, many Memorial Services featured the hymn ‘Nearer my God to thee’ although the legend that the liner’s doomed band had played it at the end had not yet been publicised.

Most sermons echoed the belief of Canon Nurse at Bowness that ‘man with all his science is still small compared to Almighty God’.

But the Orphan Boys from Natland’s ‘Waif and Strays’ home were encouraged to follow the example of the Titanic seafarers and join the navy.

Finally nearly £1,000 was collected locally for the relief fund, which included £10 raised at a ‘Titanic Concert’ at Hazelwood Hydro at Grange-over-Sands, where ‘Mr Fred Wells’ humorous sketches caused continual laughter and fairly brought the house down’.