It is hard not to notice that it is nearly 100 years since RMS Titanic sank. Until this morning, I felt like I had no connection whatsoever with the ill-fated ship. However, when I was reading BBC News this morning, I found that there is a link, slightly tenuous, but a link anyway.
For many years, summer holidays for me were spent in the Tamar Valley and particularly on the Cornish bank looking over into England. The days were spent in the Parish of Calstock and the surrounding countryside. There are many little villages within the parish boundaries, from Calstock itself on the banks of the Tamar, to Gunnislake further upstream with the most southerly road crossing across the Cornish / English border (before the Tamar Suspension Bridge was built).
It was this countryside that three of the Cornish miners who died on Titanic would have known.
- Harry Gale, 38, Harrowbarrow
- Shadrach Gale, 33, Harrowbarrow
- Frederick Pengelly, 19, Gunnislake
Would they have seen the new Calstock Viaduct as it was being built? This viaduct is only one house away from the house in which I was usually staying. The rumble of the trains as they passed was a constant excitement to me. Imagine what it must have been like to anyone who saw the first trains coming across on their way to Gunnislake, and on to Callington Road (closed in 1966, thank you Dr Beeching!)
Seeing those Cornish placenames finally brought the Titanic‘s loss home to me. Especially as I am now the age that Shadrach Gale was when he died in the North Atlantic.