25 October, 2016

A tiny, corroded key that opened a life jacket locker aboard the Titanic on that fateful night in 1912 has just been sold at auction.

The key was amongst 200 other items in a Titanic auction held at an auction in Devizes, but the exceptionally rare item was the star of the show as its unique nature and importance led bidding up to £85,000.

It was estimated to fetch up to £50,000 but the story behind it carried bidding much further, the key was used by 23 year old Sidney Sedunary, a third class steward working in the depths of the ship as it set off on it’s disastrous voyage.

The key is brass tag stamped “Locker 14 F Deck” and this appears to show that Mr Sedunary was on the flooded deck the night the Titanic sank, sacrificing his life to provide life jackets to other passengers.

It was sent to his pregnant wife Madge upon the recovery of his body and had remained in the family up until it was sold at auction just days ago.

Another notable lot was a postcard from the ship’s wireless operator who, in another tale of heroism, remained at his post to send distress messages as the ship sank and is believed to have perished in doing so.

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In a slightly more haunting turn, a collection of letters written by Chief Officer Henry Wilde, fetched £5,000 at the auction. These letters contain statements of his apprehensions about the Titanic such as, “I still don’t like this ship… I have a queer feeling about it,”.

Chillingly, Mr Wilde was due to take command of another vessel, the Cymric, but a change in arrangements meant that he signed to work aboard the Titanic just a day before it set sail and his disappointment is clear in the letters.

The RMS Titanic measured 269 metres in length, and was the largest man-made moving object on Earth at the time, the largest passenger vessel is now the MS Allure of the Seas, at 362 metres.