Monday 16 April 2012

Titanic:The Ship of Dreams

I was excited to read Titanic:the Ship of Dreams, from Christian Focus. It was good to have a Christian perspective on the Titanic story at a time when there has been so much publicity about the centenary of its sinking.

 Robert Plant writes about the voyage of the real Titanic passengers, John Harper and his six year old daughter, Annie (Nana). For obvious reasons, this is written as historical fiction. The book tells of a train journey to Southampton, embarking on the Titanic and possible events of the voyage including meeting the famous Astors and the Captain. The events of the night of 14th/15th April 1912 are covered and include how Nana was rescued as well as the documented events as John Harper witnessed to others of the saving power of the Lord Jesus, even while in the water.

The book is well written and suitable for children. My younger children have been quite interested in the Titanic, for some time, so this book was ideal. My five year old loved hearing about a child of her own age. I must say that I found the book fascinating and particularly once we realised that John and Nana Harper's home, at the time of the voyage, was in London.

John Harper was minister of Walworth Road Baptist church and lived in Denmark Hill, Surrey. We live in London so after a little research the children and I set off to find whether his house still existed and the site of the church.

Denmark Hill would now be described as being in London, not Surrey and is about three miles down the road from the site of Walworth Road Baptist church. This area was subject to a considerable amount of bombing in the Second World War followed by redevelopment so we weren't sure that we would find the house. However, rather to my surprise, we were able to identify it.
This is John and Annie Harper's house in Denmark Hill.

Sadly, Walworth Road Baptist church no longer exists. It appears to have been demolished in 1950. It was close to a housing development which is itself now empty and waiting for redevelopment. The actual site of the church seems to have been used for a petrol station. What fascinated me was that Walworth Road Baptist church was only 0.3mile from the Metropolitan (Spurgeon's) Tabernacle which in 1912 was being pastored by Dr A.C. Dixon and is still, very much, in existence today.

I was unable to find a picture of Walworth Road Baptist church but did find references to it in the biography of C.H. Spurgeon by G.Holden Pike. This included Spurgeon attending its opening service.

Anyway, this is the current site-rather sad and awaiting redevelopment.
 Unlike the building, John Harper's message lives on. One of the things that I particularly liked about this book are the short Bible studies at the back. These are under the title "Take five minutes" and cover issues like the most important thing in life, the Bible and why God allowed the Harpers to board the Titanic. These are short, pithy and an ideal length for children.

I don't know whether John Harper ever prayed these lines
May I live a life of faith,
May I die Thy people's death
but they certainly seem to characterise his life and death.

I recommend this book. It is suitable for children from about five if read aloud but has plenty in it to interest older children.

Titanic:the Ship of Dreams was provided to me by Christian Focus as an e-book. The opinions are entirely my own.


  1. Great review Sarah, I need to let Joel read this one - I imagine there won't be many in glory who will have appealed to the lost in their own dying moments.

  2. Loved the background research you did! Thanks for sharing:)

  3. I will bookmark this one. Thank you!

  4. I’ve not come across that particular book, but I was interested in what you say about John Harper. I remember listening to a sermon – and it’s one that I have listened to a number of times – which mentioned a man who described himself as “John Harper’s last convert”. I guess the account is in your book – the two men had both been on the Titanic and found themselves together in the icy sea. John Harper witnessed to the man while in the water and he was converted. John Harper died, the man survived.
    If you’re interested, the sermon was Pastor John Thackway speaking on “The wisdom of the old, old story” -

  5. Yes the account is in the book. Thank you for the link-shall look forward to listening to this.

  6. Sarah,

    Thank you for your wonderful review. The pictures were a nice added touch.