Captain E.J. Smith - The 'Big Ships' and "Woodhead" House


Captain Smith was given command of the RMS Baltic, then the largest vessel
afloat, in 1904. (Click to enlarge)

In 1904 Edward Smith was given command of the new White Star Liner, the RMS Baltic, then the largest vessel afloat, one of what was dubbed The Big Four (the other three being RMS Celtic, Cedric, and Adriatic). She was launched on 21 November 1903 by Harland and Wolff at Belfast and sailed from Liverpool on her maiden voyage to New York on 29 June 1904 with Captain Edward Smith in command. At 23,876 gross tons, more than twice that of the Majestic, she was the world's largest ship until 1905.

Captain Smith aboard the
Baltic in 1905. (Photograph: Joseph Marshall)
(Click to enlarge)

Captain Smith posing with passengers aboard the Baltic in 1905 (Photograph Joseph Marshall). (Click to enlarge)

Letter to Daughter

While Captain of the Baltic, Smith sent a touching letter home to his daughter, upon which he draws a picture of a little bird and apologises for not being able to send a bunny. Addressed to their house in Marine Crescent, Waterloo, Liverpool, it reads: 'My dear Daughter, I could not catch a little bunny to send you in my letter so send you a card by this little bird. I hope Mother and you and Gladys are well. I shall soon be home. Your loving Daddy.'

Smith's letter to his 8 year old daughter Mel, with a hand drawn picture of a bird.

Move to Southampton: Winn Road

With the increasing size of the ships it was no surprise that the White Star Line eventually moved its operations to the more convenient deep water harbour at Southampton in 1907. So the Smith family likewise moved to the southern city, purchasing a red brick, twin-gabled house, named "Woodhead" after Eleanor's family farm. The house was situation on Winn Road, Highfield, Southampton. The home telephone number at Woodhead was Southampton 1400.



Winn Road, Southampton, in 1910.
It is on this street the Smith family moved in 1907. (Photograph: SEE Museum)



The residence was later named 'Coulthurst' and then became numbered 32 Winn Road. The Smith house now no longer exists as it was destroyed, like much of Southampon, by German bombing during World War Two and replaced by a block of flats called Cheltenham Court, at 34 Winn Road. Reportedly, in the main entrance is a framed picture of the Titanic with the caption 'Cheltenham Court stands on the site of the house once occupied by Commander Edward John Smith who was the captain of the Titanic and went down with his ship.' 



A neighbouring house on Winn Road gives an idea of what the Smith house
would have looked like.



A block of flats called Cheltenham Court, at 34 Winn Road, is on the site of where Captain Smith's house used to be, before it was destroyed during the Second World War.