A short walk from the statue commemorating the fulfilled life of Isaac Watts , past a cenotaph remembering lives unfulfilled in World War I there is a stark reminder of even more lives lost needlessly in the Titanic disaster of 1912.
On the edge of East (Andrews) Park is a memorial to the ‘Titanic Engineers’. Thirty five men working deep in the ships hold who knew their fate was a watery grave yet still kept the pumps running ‘fighting for every inch of draught’ for the stricken ship to make time to allow more people on decks above to escape the icy clutches of the North Atlantic in lifeboats.
The statue was funded by worldwide donations and was unveiled on 22nd August 1914 when it is estimated that 100,000 citizens of Southampton attended the service. Many of them carrying the grief scarred memories of friends, colleagues and loved ones who perished that dreadful day in shipping history.
The figurine at the centre of the memorial is that of the Greek goddess of Victory, Nike. On the day I made my visit there was a hot afternoon sun in stark contrast to an April night in 1912. The sunlight was shining full and warmingly on her figure which faces west, in the direction of where the Titanic went down. The friezes on either side of her show engineers working the controls of pumps in solid impressionist casts of bronze. They appear in the stark block like imagery of Stalinist sculptures but their starkness and simplicity does not deny the heroism that took place. Looking at those images I cannot begin to imagine what must have been going through those men’s minds as they watched the waters rise chasing them from room to room.