New book reveals Hackney’s links to Titanic disaster

As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches this Sunday, a new book is set to reveal Hackney’s links with the stricken ship - and commemorate the borough’s residents who went to their watery graves on the ill-fated liner.

“Hackney: An Uncommon History in Five Parts” is set to be published by the Hackney Society, a charity dedicated to recording local history, and will examine the borough at different snapshots in its past – in 1612, 1712, 1812, 1912, and 2012.

The 1912 section focuses on one of the most famous disasters of the 20th century when 1,523 lives were lost on the vessel’s maiden voyage, bound for New York from Southampton, after she struck an iceberg on April 15.

Among those who perished in the freezing waters of the Atlantic were the nine children of a Dalston family.

John George Sage, 44, had persuaded his reluctant wife Annie, who had a fear of water, to leave their Queen’s Road home and set sail for a new life in America. The parents died along with their young children, and their 13-year-old son Will was one of the few bodies recovered.

There were reports daughter Sarah had managed to get a place on a lifeboat, but left it when she realised none of her family was able to join her.

The liner’s second-class saloon steward, James Thomas Wood, 40, of Narford Road, Upper Clapton, also died in the tragedy.

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This newspaper– known in 1912 as the Hackney and Kingsland Gazette - reported that three months after the sinking, James’s widow Sarah applied at Shoreditch County Court for a share of the charitable funds available for victims’ families.

Gazette archives reveal the borough held a number of memorial services and fundraisers in the wake of the tragedy.

The book’s editor, Margaret Willes, said: “Hackney will be one of the principal hosts for the 2012 Olympic Games. Thousands of people will be visiting the site in the summer months - yet how much will they know of the history of the area? Indeed, how aware are Hackney residents of its rich past?”

The book will be published by the Hackney Society in May, priced 14.99. For more information, visit