1901 – 1918/9    “In England, you better stay where you belong or they’ll soon put you there. If you are a servant you’re a servant”           Mary Davis, Titanic survivor.

Captain Arthur Rostron

Arthur is the highly capable captain of the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia. It is April 1912, and he has just returned to New York Harbour having heroically used his ship to rescue survivors of the RMS Titanic disaster.

Mary Davis

Mary was a second class passenger on the RMS Titanic. A survivor of Lifeboat 13, she tells the story of that fateful night Titanic was hit by an iceberg and what followed afterwards.

Thomas Hooton

Tom has worked for the Romsey Remount Service, in Hampshire since World War One began. He is very knowledgeable about how horses are traded, cared for, trained, and transported to France as part of the war effort. He is keen to explain how the war began, and how he became involved in the Remount Service.

Topics we cover for this period are:

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Historical Context

The Edwardian period starts with the death of Queen Victoria, however there is a lack of consensus on when it ends. There are four events that are often used to mark the end of the period: the sinking of the Titanic (1912), the beginning of The Great War (1914), the end of hostilities (1918), or the signing of the Versailles Treaty (1919).

“In England, you better stay where you belong or they’ll soon put you there.
If you are a servant you’re a servant”
Mary Davis, Titanic survivor.

Mary’s explanation of why she preferred to stay in the U.S.A. neatly sums up Edwardian England. Everyone was born to a place in society and should stay there – this was particularly important to enable the wealthy to follow leisurely, rather than economic, pursuits. Edwardian ‘peace and plenty’ combined with the focus on leisure, lead to international disadvantage. Britain, with its empire, remained strong in finance, shipping and trade. But by the end of Edwardian period Britain had fallen behind Germany and the USA as an economic world power.

While the wealthier enjoyed an increasingly leisurely lifestyle, the poor were seeking to improve themselves. However, the general consensus from the middle and upper classes was that all should know their place and stay there. The resulting tension reaching a high by 1908 with the poor starting to take a political stand.

The technological and social changes initiated in Victorian times exert greater social pressure for the Edwardians. Mechanisation on farms and within the wealthier homes reduced the number of workers needed. At the same time factories offered better wages and more independence, encouraging workers to opt-out of a being in service or labouring on a farm.

Attracted by the prospect of a new life without the constraints of the ‘know your place’ attitude, many poorer folk emigrated to the New Worlds – America and Australia. Most made it; some like many of those on the Titanic never survive the journey.