On April 15, 1912, tragedy struck when the Titanic, a luxurious British passenger liner, sank off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. This year marks the 110th anniversary of this tragic event and as we remember the 1,500 passengers who lost their lives on this fateful day, we would like to highlight one individual on board the Titanic who is regarded as a hero by many. This hero was Harold Lowe. If you would like to learn more about Harold Lowe, what he did to be considered a hero, and his connection to Lowe & Sons, please read on.
Who is Harold Lowe?
Born in Conwy, Wales, Harold Lowe was someone who enjoyed being out at sea from a young age. In fact, he was just 14 years old when he ran away from home and set sail for the first time. Although this may seem a bit scary for parents, in the late 1890’s it was not unusual for young children to go out at sea at such an age. Before signing up as a cabin boy on a traditional sailing vessel, his father had offered him an apprenticeship, but Harold was very much against the idea. He was quoted saying “I was not going to work for anybody for nothing...I wanted to be paid for my labour.” Harold then served 5 years along the West African coast just fifteen months before joining the Titanic.
It was the early morning of April 15 that the Titanic struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. Harold Lowe, who was on board, was said to be asleep at the time of the collision and was woken by voices outside his cabin. He quickly realised something frightening had taken place when he noticed passengers wearing lifejackets in the hallway outside his door. Lowe was ordered to monitor and assist women and children at lifeboat number 5 and Sixth Officer James Moody ordered Lowe to get into the boat. After the Titanic sank, Harold Lowe gathered 4 more lifeboats before eventually returning to the scene where he managed to rescue four survivors who were freezing in the water.
Lowe was the only officer on board the Titanic to return in search of survivors and is recognised today for his bravery and heroic actions which saved numerous lives. His actions made a small dent in the grim death toll of 1,517, one of the worst maritime disasters in history. Lowe was also featured in the 1997 film Titanic which starred Leonardo Decaprio and Kate Winslet and was portrayed by Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd. The iconic scene from the film depicts Rose DeWitt Bukater being rescued by Harold as she catches his attention using a whistle. Although Kate Winslet’s character Rose was a fictional character in the film, this scene demonstrates Harold’s heroic actions.
The Lowe Family
For those who did not know the connection between Harold and Lowe & Sons. Harolds father, George Sr. grew up in Cheshire, England, and the Lowe family were silversmiths, goldsmiths, jewellers and watchmakers with shops in Chester and Liverpool, England, as well as Wales. Being a close-knit family, George Senior ran a branch of Lowe & Sons in Barmouth while Harolds uncle ran the Chester shop which he was said to frequently visit.
In honour of family member Harold Lowe, our shop has a small section within our in-house museum that is dedicated to him. Here you will find insightful artifacts and a display of Harold Lowe and his time on the Titanic along with information about the Lowes family. The museum is free to view and does not require a booking, however, we do use the space for consultations so on occasion it may be unavailable. Please feel free to stop by for a visit and meet our wonderful team who will be happy to show you around.
Be sure to check out our museum the next time you find yourself in Chester. You can find more information about Lowe & Sons rich history by clicking here.