Bedford postcard – believed to be earliest mention of Titanic disaster – goes under hammer

A montage of the front and back of a postcard written to a Bedford address in 1912 following the sinking of the Titanic
The postcard is expected to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000 at auction

A postcard, addressed to a resident in Bedford and believed to be the earliest mention of the Titanic disaster, is going under the hammer later this month and is expected to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000.

The card, which was written only 36 hours after the Titanic sank, is being sold by an English collector and will be auctioned by Charles Miller Ltd on Tuesday 25 April.

Written by Charles Nias in Southampton at 5pm, and posted to his 26-year-old son Harold, a lodger at Goldington Grange at 7pm on 16 April, 1912, the postcard references the lack of information relating to the Titanic disaster, with the only thing being certain is that she had “gone to the bottom”.

The vendor, who has greatly enjoyed owning the postcard, and who would now like others to share the same pleasure, says: “The sinking of the Titanic was such a significant and tragic event, and I am hoping that the postcard will be bought by a museum, or by someone, who will display it to the general public, so that it can be generally appreciated, rather than housed in a private collection, where few people will see it.”

Maritime Specialist Charles Miller says, “It is fascinating to see this correspondence, which was sent so soon after the Titanic slipped beneath the waves.

“It is likely that the sender was involved in shipping, as it is intriguing to read that White Star Line was heavily reliant on the newspapers for their information as to what had occurred.”

Postcard written in 1912 following the sinking of the Titanic to an address in Bedford
The postcard from Charles Nias to his son Harrold

According to the 1911 Census, the postcard’s recipient, Harold Raymond Nias, was registered as a boarder at the Bedford address at that time. His father, Charles, was a widowed civil engineer who had been born in Australia.

Goldington Grange – which was demolished in the early 20th Century – stood on the corner of Goldginton Road and what is now Grange Road.

It hit the headlines in the late 1800s as a site of suspected paranormal activity, with London newspapers covering the story.

A post on the Bedfordfordshire Archives website reports that The Bedfordshire Times and Independent wrote: “Parties of strong-nerved “ghost-hunters” and psychical experts eagerly competed for the privilege of spending the night in the haunted house.

“The governess’ room (where a black-browed lady was said to have been most often seen) was fitted out with beds, victualled and fortified.

“The bold men sat and smoked and snored and occasionally heard patterings and clatterings, but nothing more uncanny; so went empty away”.

Information about the auction can be found at the Charles Miller website here.

With thanks to Sam Schöbs for additional genealogy research

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