Real People, Real Stories: Captain Arthur Rostron

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In the ongoing series, read the stories of the people who designed, built and sailed on the Ship of Dreams.

This is one of many personal stories recounted as part of the Titanic Experience.

Captain Arthur H. Rostron R.D. R.N.R. Commander of the RMS Carpathia

Hero on the night of the Titanic Sinking.

Born in 1869 in Bolton, Captain Arthur Henry Rostron was a British Sailor and a Seagoing Officer. He is best known for his role as the Captain of the RMS Carpathia when it rescued the survivors from the RMS Titanic after the ship sank in 1912. 

He began his career at the age of 13, joining the Merchant Navy Cadet School ship HMS Conway, despite his family being against him going to sea. He went on to marry Ethel Minnie and raise four children.

From 1886 to 1931, Rostron dedicated his service to the Royal Naval Reserve. Over this period, he was also in command of over 8 ships.

Arthur rostron 1

One of the most remarkable chapters in his maritime career was the Titanic rescue. As the RMS Carpathia was heading from New York to the Mediterranean, a distress call from the RMS Titanic reached them in the early hours of the 15th April 1912, just an hour after the tragic iceberg collision. 

Despite not being the closest ship and heading in the opposite direction, Captain Rostron turned the Carpathia around and headed full steam ahead to try to reach the sinking liner in time.

Though they arrived after the Titanic had already sunk, Captain Rostron and his crew displayed immense courage and heroism by saving individuals from the icy waters and safely transferring the survivors from lifeboats to their ship. They managed to locate 20 lifeboats and rescue 713 passengers and crew. Captain Rostron's careful planning extended to converting dining rooms into makeshift hospitals and providing much-needed hot soup to the survivors. Thanks to their bravery and quick response, many more survived than might have done had Carpathia not answered the distress call.

Following the Titanic rescue, Captain Rostron received numerous awards in recognition of his rescue efforts, with one of the most prominent being The Loving Cup. This historic cup was presented to him by Molly Brown, one of Titanic's most famous survivors in New York on the 29th May 1912. It remains ‘one of the most iconic objects connected to the Titanic disaster’. Today, The Loving Cup is on display at Titanic Belfast, on loan from a private collection.

Arthur Rostron went on to command some of Cunard's most illustrious ships, including Mauritania and Lusitania. Notably, Janet Rostron, the great-granddaughter of Arthur Rostron, visited Titanic Belfast and our staff were able to sit down and chat with her. During our discussion, she shared that one of his favourite ships to work on was the Mauritania.

In May 1931, Captain Rostron retired but still remained busy. He was a member and for a time Captain, of the Southampton Master Mariner's Club. He also wrote an autobiography titled 'Home from the Sea'. Janet is in possession of the original book. This precious piece of history is an authentic account, in Captain Rostron's own words, of his life at sea. What makes it even more remarkable is that 30 pages within the book are dedicated to the Titanic.

Sadly, on the 4th November 1940, while visiting his daughter Margaret in Calne, he took ill and developed pneumonia. He passed away in Chippenham on this day. His funeral took place at West End Parish Church on the 7th November 1940.

During Janet’s visit, she shared treasured memorabilia associated with her great-grandfather. 

She brought a photograph taken in Southampton back in 1937, featuring three generations. In the photo, you can see Arthur, her grandfather, her father and uncle creating a timeless family legacy.

The next photograph was Arthur aged 42 around the time of the Titanic disaster. Janet described him as ‘Calm and Collected’.

Arthur Rostron  aged 42 Arthur rostron image

Janet said "You know what he would say - he was just the right person in the right place at the right time. He was a very humble person and it's humbling to visit Titanic Belfast. It took guts and a clear head to do what he did. His book says that everything in his life had led up to that point; he had been prepared for it.

I am really glad The Loving Cup is in Belfast. It feels like it has come home actually. It’s the right place for it. Previously, It was in a dusty little corner, not being seen by anybody and now it is out in the world. Now the story keeps being told. It’s a story of heroism, hope and survival”.

Find out more about the hopes and dreams of those who boarded the world-famous ship in the Titanic Experience.


Loving Cup Arrives At Titanic Belfast

Don't miss this unique opportunity to witness The Loving Cup which has been described as ‘one of the most iconic objects relating to the Titanic disaster’. 

Find Out More
Loving Cup 2

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