Many newsreels were rushed out in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster in April 1912. Sadly for Titanic buffs, this compilation of two Topical Budget items from that fateful week does not appear to boast rediscovered footage of the legendary liner, as we might have hoped. The opening shots, purporting to show the Titanic at Southampton, in fact feature her near-identical sister ship RMS Olympic. Olympic completed her maiden voyage safely in June 1911, stealing her then-unfinished younger sister's thunder in the press stakes. With Titanic images so scarce, many newsreels resorted to passing off Olympic as Titanic.
We also glimpse scenes outside the White Star Line's London HQ Oceanic House, just off Trafalgar Square on Cockspur Street. This was probably filmed on 16 April, as news of the sinking in the early hours of 15 April reached Britain. Among the crowd of newsboys rushing to distribute the evening paper could be 16-year-old Ned Parfett, later captured in an iconic image holding up the shocking headline 'Titanic Disaster - Great Loss of Life'. Parfett was killed four years later serving in WWI.
The second item shows dignitaries leaving St. Paul's Cathedral following the national memorial service for the victims. The service took place on 19 April, less than 24 hours after the Cunard steamship RMS Carpathia brought the survivors to New York. The public were only just becoming aware of the horrifying scale of the disaster: more than 1,500 passengers and crew had died, almost two thirds of all those on board.