Titanic Captain Edward John Smith: Facts and Information

Here are ten facts about Edward John Smith, the Captain of RMS Titanic who lost his life when the ship sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg.

  • Edward John Smith was born on 27th January 1850 in Hanley, Staffordshire.

  • He joined the White Star Line in 1880 and worked his way up to commanding the Republic in 1887, the Majestic in 1895, the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Olympic. His reputation as a good, safe captain grew and he became known as the ‘Millionaires’ Captain’ because some of the wealthiest people in England would only travel on ships he was captaining.
  • He was married to Eleanor Smith and they had one daughter, Helen Melville.

Titanic Captain Smith

  • It is believed that Captain Smith considered retirement before accepting command of the Titanic.
  • Captain Smith was in bed when the ship collided with an iceberg. He was woken up by the sound of the collision and was told what had happened by William Murdoch, the First Officer.
  • Smith has been criticised for failing to properly manage the evacuation of passengers. He knew that the ship was going to sink, but he didn’t pass this information on to all of his officers.
  • Very little is known about what Captain Smith did in time between the Titanic colliding with the iceberg and sinking.
  • It is also unclear how Smith lost his life. Most historians believe that he locked himself in the wheelhouse and went down with his ship, but some of the survivors claimed to have encountered him when he passed an infant child into a lifeboat from the water. His body was never recovered.
  • Legend has it that the final words to his crew were ‘Be British’, but this is probably not true.
  • A statue of Captain Smith stands in Beacon Park, Lichfield.

More Facts About Captain Smith

  • He has been portrayed by many different actors over the years. According to Smith’s daughter, Helen Melville (Mel), Laurence Naismith, the actor who played Smith in A Night to Remember, looked very much like her father. Bernard Hill took on the role of Captain smith in the 1997 movie Titanic directed by James Cameron.
  • Captain Smith was 62 when he died in 1912.

What next? Discover some facts about the Titanic.

20 Titanic Facts

Here are twenty facts about the RMS Titanic, the ocean liner which sank on 14th April 1912 after hitting an iceberg. Some of the facts you might already know, but hopefully you’ll learn something new, too.

  • The Titanic was travelling from Southampton (UK) to New York (US) on its maiden (first) voyage when it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.

  • About 2220 passengers were on board. Approximately 1500 lost their lives in the disaster.
  • The Titanic was the largest ship afloat before it sank, and it was operated by the White Star Line.
  • Edward Smith was the captain of the ship and he died when the Titanic sank.
  • Although the Titanic was a luxury liner, with libraries, excellent restaurants, beautifully decorated cabins and corridors, a swimming pool and gym, it didn’t carry enough lifeboats for all of the crew and passengers.
  • The Atlantic Daily Bulletin was the Titanic’s own newspaper. It was printed on board!
  • From the moment the iceberg was spotted by the lookouts, the officers had about 35 seconds to respond before the collision occurred. First Officer Murdoch did order the ship to steer hard to port (the left), but their wasn’t enough time to change the course of he ship and avoid the iceberg.
  • The Titanic didn’t carry enough lifeboats for all of the passengers, and not all of the lifeboats were full to capacity before they were launched on 14th April. Lifeboat 7, for example, had space for another 40 people.
  • 2 dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic (they were given space in the lifeboats). Seven other dogs on board lost their lives.
  • The RMS Titanic was a mail ship, responsible for delivering mail on behalf of the Royal Mail. More than 3000 sacks of mail were on board the Titanic when it sank.
The sinking of the Titanic (Credit)
  • The Titanic was massive. It measured 269 metres in length and it was over 50 metres wide.
  • It was powered by steam and its engines used more than 800 tons of coal every single day. It could travel at a speed of 27 miles per hour (24 knots).
  • The wreck of the Titanic was discovered in 1985. The ship has split in two and is resting on the seabed at a depth of over 3700 metres.
  • It took about 3 hours for the ship to sink after hitting the iceberg.
  • Women and children were evacuated first and, as a result, many of the those who perished during the disaster were men.
  • RMS Carpathia rescued 705 survivors. Many of these people had lost all of their possessions because they were emigrating Britain to start a new life in North America.
  • Millvina Dean was the last living survivor. She was only nine months old when she was a passenger and she died in 2009, aged 97.
  • The Titanic had four funnels, but only three of them were used to release steam from the ship’s boilers. The fourth funnel is just for show and is there simply to make the profile of the ship look better.
  • There were four lifts (elevators) on the ship.
  • The only person to survive the disaster outside of a lifeboat was Charles Joughin, the Titanic’s chief baker . He spent two hours in the freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean before clambering aboard a lifeboat.
Titanic Lifeboat
The last lifebaot launched from the Titanic (Credit)

What next? Find out some facts about Captain Edward John Smith.

LEGO: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about LEGO, the popular construction toy.

  • LEGO is produced in Denmark and the name LEGO comes from two Danish words (‘leg’ and ‘godt’), meaning play well.
  • The LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark makes over 20 billion bricks every year.

  • Over 100 million LEGO minifigures are sold every year.
  • Seven LEGO sets are sold every second.
  • There are more than 50 different LEGO brick colours.
  • The LEGO Group produces more tyres than any other manufacturer. It creates over 300 million tyres every year.
  • The design of the LEGO brick hasn’t changed very much over the years, and bricks bought in the 1950s can still be used with today’s LEGO bricks.
  • LEGO minifigures used to all have standard yellow faces, but, in recent years, the LEGO Group has introduced more realistic skin tones and more detailed printing, allowing them to produce minifigure versions of some of the best-loved movie characters (such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones).
  • Many adults still build with LEGO. The term AFOL means Adult Fan of LEGO, and LEGO has started to manufacture sets aimed at an older market.
  • David Beckham sometimes builds LEGO sets when he isn’t training or playing football.
  • James May, from the Top Gear TV show, once built a full-size house out of LEGO bricks.
  • One of Ed Sheeran’s most well-loved songs is called LEGO House.
  • The LEGO Club (the official LEGO fan club) has more than 2 million members.
  • It is estimated that the world’s children spend 5 billion hours playing with LEGO bricks.
  • There are more than ten times the number of LEGO minifigures in the world than there are people living in the United States.
  • LEGO builders often use the word MOC (My Own Creation) to describe a model they have built themselves (as opposed to one made by following instructions). Here is an example of a MOC.

10 London Eye Facts

Here are some facts about the London Eye, the massive Ferris wheel built on the banks of River Thames in 1999.

  • From the top of the London Eye you can see things about 25 miles away. On a clear day, you can make out Windsor Castle. It is one of the highest viewing platforms in London (the viewing platform of the Shard is higher).

  • It takes 30 minutes to complete a revolution and doesn’t have to stop for passengers to step on and off.
  • The London Eye took 7 years to construct and was designed by a number of architects including, Mark Sparrowhawk, David Marks and Julia Barfield.
  • More than 3 and a half million people every year go on the London Eye and it can carry 800 people on every revolution.
  • There are 32 capsules (one for each London borough). Each one weighs 10 tonnes and can carry 25 passengers. The capsules are air-conditioned and seats are provided, although passengers are able to walk around.
  • At 135m high, the London Eye is one of the tallest buildings in the city.
  • The London Eye was often called the Millennium Wheel when it was first opened.
  • It has already become an iconic London building. It provides a focal point for London’s New Year’s firework display and was light up in the colours of the Union Jack to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
  • The spindle which holds the wheel weighs over 300 tonnes and is 23 metres high.
  • The London Eye is not the first big wheel to be located in London. The Great Wheel was constructed in 1895 for the Empire of India Exhibition. It was demolished in 1907 having being used by over 2 million people.

What next? Discover more London facts by visiting the Primary Facts London resources page.

St Lucia: Facts and Information

St Lucia Fact File

Location: St Lucia is an island in the Caribbean Sea. It is one of the Windward Islands and part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles.

Capital: Castries

Population: Approximately 170,000

Area: 617 sq km

Currency: East Caribbean Dollar

Official Language: English (although Saint Lucian Creole is spoken by most people)

The St Lucian Flag

St Lucian Flag

The St Lucian flag was designed by Dunstan St Omer, an artist from St Lucia. The blue represents the sky and the sea and the arrow shape represents the Pitons, the two large peaks which rise from the island. The flag has been used since 1967.

Other Facts About St Lucia

  • Afro-Caribbean people make up about 3 quarters of the population.
  • Saint Lucia was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse. The French gave St Lucia its name and they were the first Europeans to colonise the island in the 1660s.
  • The control of St Lucia switched from the French to English many times in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1814, Britain took control of the island.
  • The British set up a legal system based on the one used in England.
  • St Lucia became an independent state on 22nd February 1979. This day is a public holiday in St Lucia.
  • In the late 18th century there were serious conflicts between Afro-Caribbean slaves and ex-slaves, and the British army and the white slave-owners.
  • One of St Lucia’s main export is bananas, but they also export beer and petroleum oils.
  • The biggest St Lucian festival is the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival in May. Musicians come from all over the world to take part in this celebration.
  • Cricket is massively popular in St Lucia.
  • All children have to go to school between the ages of 5 and 15.
  • Tourism is very important to the St Lucian economy. Many people come to St Lucia every year to see the peaks of The Pitons or to visit the drive-in volcano at Sulphur Springs (Soufriere). Many tourists come to St Lucia as part of a Caribbean cruise.

Facts About The Shard: The Tallest Building in London

Here are some facts about The Shard, the skyscraper built on the site of Southwark Towers in London.

  • The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe.
  • It has 95 storeys.

  • It was designed in 2000 by the architect, Renzo Piano.
  • Despite opposition from local authorities, planning consent for the construction of The Shard was given in 2003. The building was deemed to have an ‘exceptional design’.
  • The Shard contains office space, retail space, restaurants, a hotel and residential units.
  • The building appeared in the 2012 film The Snowman and The Snowdog before the building was open to the public.
  • Over 10,000 panes of glass were used to glaze The Shard.
  • There are over 300 flights of stairs, over 40 lifts (elevators) and the total floor space is more than 25 acres.
  • Most of the materials used to build the skyscraper have been recycled.

Check out this time lapse video of The Shard’s construction.

What next? Find out more facts about London by visiting our London resources page.

The Great Fire of London: Interesting Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about the devastating fire, called The Great Fire of London, which pretty much destroyed most of England’s capital city in 1666.

  • Most of the houses in London at the time of the Great Fire of London were made of timber (wood). They were very closely packed together and London’s streets were extremely narrow.

  • In 1666, the year of the fire, there had been a very long, dry summer. Quite a bit of the water supplies had been used up during the droughts caused by the hot weather.
  • People (such as Daniel Baker) had feared that London would be very vulnerable to a large fire, and they would be proved right.
  • The Great Fire of London was started with just one spark. At about 2 o’clock in the morning on Sunday 2nd September 1666 at Thomas Farynor’s bakers in Pudding Lane, one of the workers smelled smoke and woke his boss and his family. The family fled across the street, but one of the household’s maids refused to leave. She became one of the first people to be killed by the fire.
  •  The fire spread rapidly from dry timber building to dry timber building, helped by  a strong wind. Luckily, the fire was unable to spread across London Bridge and this meant that the fire was confined to the City of London and didn’t damage any of the building south of the River Thames.
  • The fire raged all through Sunday and started to head east, west and north. Apparently, the smoke could be seen from Oxford, and many Londoners began to gather in the large open spaces of Finsbury Hill and Moorfields.
  • Many houses were pulled down on purpose to try and create fire breaks. This tactic was quite successful in East London.
  • The fire destroyed Newgate Prison and Ludgate Prison and it started to head towards St Paul’s Cathederal (which was covered in scaffolding). Within just a few hours the cathedral was destroyed – even the lead on its roof had melted.
  • On Wednesday 5th September, the Great Fire of London virtually came to an end. The fire reached the stone walls of Middle Temple and this happened at the same time as a change in the strength and direction of the wind.
  • The Great Fire of London destroyed more than 370 acres of the City of London. It destroyed more than 13,000 houses, 84 churches and more than 40 halls.
  • Although official records show that only four people lost their lives in the fire, the number was probably much higher than this.
  • More than 100,000 people were made homeless, and the damage would cost over £1 billion in today’s money.
  • Samuel Pepys, the great English diarist, was forced to flee his home during the fire, but not before he had buried some wine, his Parmesan cheese and other prized possessions.

What next? Find out about the Monument to the Great Fire of London, discover more facts about London by visiting our London resources page, or check out some recommended children’s books about The Great Fire of London.

Click here to see some Great Fire of London classroom displays.

Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about Guy Fawkes and his involvement in The Gunpowder Plot – the failed attempt to blow up The House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5th November, 1605.

  • Guy Fawkes was born in 1570 in Stonegate, York.

  • His father died when he was only eight years old.
  • Guy’s mother’s family were outwardly Protestant (as England was a Protestant country during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I), but secretly Catholic. By the time he was a teenager, Guy was also a Catholic.
  • Guy became a soldier, fighting for Catholic countries against their Protestant enemies. He fought for Spain against the Dutch in the Eighty Year’s War.
  • During the reign of James I, Guy Fawkes became increasingly frustrated at the continued persecution of Catholics and the fact that a Scottish monarch was the King of England. He travelled to Spain to try and get support for a Catholic rebellion in England. He failed this attempt, but he did meet some of the people who would later be involved in setting up The Gunpowder Plot.

Facts About The Gunpowder Plot

  • Although Guy Fawkes is the most famous of those involved in The Gunpowder Plot, it was actually Robert Catesby who was the leader of the failed attempt to kill James I when he opened Parliament in 1605.
  • The plotters, led by Robert Catesby, were: Guy Fawkes, Thomas Wintour, Robert Wintour, John Wright, Thomas Percy, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, John Grant, Christopher Wright, Sir Ambrose Rookwood, Francis Tresham and Sir Everard Digby.
  • The plotters planned to set off 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar (called an undercroft) directly under the House of Lords, killing King James I and other key Protestant members of the Royal Family and Privy Council.
  •  Guy Fawkes, due to his experience as a soldier, was placed in charge of lighting the gunpowder fuse.
  • The plot failed because an anonymous letter was received by Baron Monteagle (a Catholic who would have been in the House of Lords on 5th November) warning him to stay away to guarantee his safety. The letter was passed to James I and he ordered that the buildings around the House of Lords be thoroughly searched.
  • Guy Fawkes was found in the cellar under the House of Lords carrying a lantern, a pocket watch and several matches. Thirty six barrels of gunpowder were also revealed, hidden under a stack of firewood.
  • Guy Fawkes was arrested. King James I gave his permission for Guy Fawkes to be tortured and he finally confessed to his part in The Gunpowder Plot. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered on 31st January 1606.
  • Although he did die on 31st January, Guy Fawkes managed to avoid the agony of being quartered (cut open while still conscious) by jumping from the gallows and breaking his neck.

Bonfire Night (sometimes called Guy Fawke’s Night or Firework Night)

  • The fact that the Gunpowder Plot failed was celebrated on 5th November 1606 (the year after the event) and on this day every year since. Church bells used to be rung and bonfires were lit.
  • Traditionally, effigies (life size models) of Guy Fawkes were made by children out of straw, newspaper and rags. These were known as ‘Guys’ and they were thrown onto bonfires and burnt. Fireworks were also set off on the night of 5th November.
  • Many of these traditions still take place in England today, although lots of children don’t know the exact reason behind the celebration.