The Slade Brothers


On April 6th, 1912, brothers Alfred, Tom and Bertram Slade all signed on as firemen on the Titanic. All were seasoned sailors. 25 years old Alfred had just finished a tour of duty on The Highland Glen and Bertram, 26 and Thomas, 27 had transferred from the Titanic’s sister ship the Olympic. However, despite signing on and reporting for muster on the morning of April 10th, they missed the ship’s departure.


After reporting on board at 8 am on April 10th, the brothers, like many of the crew, decided to pass the time before boarding in one of Southampton’s many pubs. The Slades settled themselves down in The Grapes, a public house that was a short walk from the docks. At 11.15 they were joined by crewmates John Podesta and William Nutbean, who had been drinking elsewhere but decided to chance one last drink with the Slades.


At about ten minutes to twelve, the group left The Grapes to make their way to the Titanic. However, they were delayed when a passenger train heading to the docks drew up and blocked their way. It was a long train and if the crewmates waited for it to stop, going around it would severely hamper their journey. The Slades, however, were quite relaxed. “Oh let the train go by,” Podesta later said he heard one of the brothers say. However, Podesta, Nutbean and a fireman from the ship decided not to chance the wait and dashed across the train lines just in front of the train, leaving the Slade brothers behind.


By the time the brothers reached the White Star dock, it was 11.59, and the gangplank was just being drawn up. Despite the fact he could have let the brothers on, the officer in charge of the gangway refused to lower it. Southampton docks were packed with sailors desperate for the work, and when the brothers did not board, he had taken new men on to replace them.


John Podesta and William Nutbean managed to survive the sinking. However, the men who replaced the Slade brothers did not return. Indeed, out of the 724 ordinary Titanic crewmembers listed with Southampton addresses, 549 died in the sinking. The Slade brothers might have lost their jobs that day. But they had saved their lives.


As they had turned up for muster but did not board the ship when it sailed, the Slade brothers were listed as deserters- however unintentionally. However, another of their crewmates saved his life by deliberately jumping ship.






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The Grapes, 41-43 Oxford Street, Southampton, Hampshire, SO14 3DP



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© 2024 The Grapes . All Rights Reserved.