The RMS Carpathia was a steamship built in Newcastle upon Tyne by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson. She made her maiden voyage from Liverpool in 1903 and ran the Cunard service from New York to a number of the Mediterranean ports.
The Carpathia was sailing from New York on the night of 14 April 1912 under Captain Arthur Rostron when he was woken by his telegraph operator Harold Cottam. Cottam had earlier been on the bridge but on returning to the wireless room had received a message from Newfoundland to say that there were private messages for the Titanic. He helpfully contacted the Titanic at 12.11 am and received in reply a distress signal.
Captain Rostron closed down all services that used steam from the boilers and under maximum speed and at some considerable risk set out to assist the Titanic at her last known location some 58 miles away. The Carpathia reached the Titanic four hours later. Rostron ensured that the journey time was not wasted by putting in readiness every possible arrangement to assist the Titanic’s passengers and crew the moment they came aboard.
After working her way through hazardous ice fields the Carpathia reached the location of the Titanic’s sinking at 4 am and took aboard from lifeboats 706 people of whom one was to die shortly afterwards. The last person to come aboard the Carpathia was the Titanic’s 2nd Officer Charles Lightholler. For their valiant effort the crew of the Carpathia were awarded silver medals by the thankful survivors who presented Rostron with a cup and gold medal. King George V gave him a knighthood and USA President Taft presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Rostron retired from sea life in 1931 and recalled his life story in “Home From The Sea” which was published by Macmillan the same year and is a rare and highly collectable book. Rostron’s home was at Chalk Hill, West End, Southampton, a house built on land owned by Herbert Collins and built in the Collin’s familiar style. It is said that the rear of the house was designed to remind Rostron of a ship’s bridge. Whilst visiting his daughter in November 1940 Rostron developed pneumonia and died. His funeral took place at West End Parish Church where his body is interred in the churchyard.