When we were little children our Great Aunt Freda used to tell us fantastic bedtime stories. Our favourite was that of her Father, Augustus, and his racing pigeon called Lightening.
Augustus was born in Worthing West Sussex, the greatest town on the South Coast. He married his childhood sweetheart Edith and trained as a draftsman. In 1906 he moved to Liverpool and got a job with Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (White Star Line) and started working on the designs for one of the greatest ships of its time, the Titanic. In 1908 he and Lightening won the Liverpool County Fair challenge cup.
In 1910 he and his family relocated to Belfast to work on the construction of the Titanic. As his onsite office where near to the Wheelhouse on the Titanic and the ship was so tall and it took ages to accent to the top and down, he took Lightening to work with him in a wicker basket. When it was time to go home, he would release Lightening, who would first circle the Titanic to get his bearing’s, and then he would fly home and let Edith and the children know daddy on his was on his way home for dinner. Our equivalent of a txt message.
This caught the eye of Captain Smith, who was a Liverpudlian, and he asked to see the famous Liverpool Challenge Cup. Augustus took the cup to work and if our Great Aunt Freda’s bedtime story is true, the cup has been held by Captain Smith on the bridge of the Titanic.
After the Titanic was finished and before it sunk in 1914 Augustus and his family returned to Worthing, where Augustus became involved in the family business. When the First World War broke out he and Lightening enlisted. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in 1917 and died three months later. It is likely Lightening met the same fait as both the Germans and the British tried to shoot down messenger pigeons for food.
What happened to the cup? Today it is used to hold coins and bits and bobs in his great grandsons dressing room. But everyday it’s looked at and everyday Augustus and Lightening and Freda are remembered.