By Len King
On Sunday 31st May 2009 the last survivor from the TITANIC disaster died. Millvina Dean aged 97 years was living at a nursing home in Hampshire and only this year stars involved in the Hollywood blockbuster film of the tragedy agreed to contribute £20,000 to her fees.
However, it perhaps is not widely known that two other survivors Elsie Edith Bowerman and Alexander Littlejohn once lived in Hastings.
Elsie was born in 1889 and was 22 years old when in 1912 she travelled with her mother on the Titanic, both surviving the disaster.
She became a Suffragette and Barrister and in the 1950’s lived at 23 Silchester Road, St. Leonards-on-sea and died in 1973. On 19th November 2005 a blue plaque was unveiled in her memory at this address.
Alexander was born in East London in 1872 and as a boy went to sea sailing in many different types of ships but in 1898 left this life to become a licensee of a public house in Cheshunt, Herts.
He married Anne Gocher in 1899 and a year later they had a son.
It was in 1901 that they moved to Hastings where Alexander became the
landlord of The Crown public house in All Saints Street.
They had another son in 1902 and a daughter in 1907 but as Anne suffered from poor health they returned to Cheshunt in 1909 and early in 1910 she died aged 34 years.
Alexander decided to return to the sea and having made arrangements for the children to be cared for he sailed to Australia on the P & O liner the Orsova and three months later returned to Tilbury. After serving as a steward on two further sailings to New York he joined the crew on the ill-fated maiden journey of the Titanic.
The story of his amazing escape in lifeboat no. 13 (in which Millvina Dean, as a very young baby was also a passenger) is to be told at a special event to be held at the Shipwreck & Coastal Heritage Centre, Rock-A-Nore Road, Old Town, Hastings on the 19th September, 2009 starting at 7.30 pm. Doors open 7pm.The Nautical Heritage Association, hosting the evening, is delighted that the guest speaker will be PHILIP LITTLEJOHN, the grandson of Alexander.
Tickets at £10 each include a glass of wine/soft drink and light refreshments. Early booking is advisable as seating is limited. Tickets are available from the Shipwreck & Coastal Heritage Centre shop which is open every day between 10am-5pm, telephone 01424 437452 or 01424 851689
“Hastings Town” August 2009
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