Francis Browne’s Finest Pictures
In 1985 an Edward O’Donnell was searching in the basement at the Irishjesuit Provincial’s House when he came across a large black metal trunk, in it he found a large colletion of negative albums, photographs and most amazingly of all an album containing photographs of Titanic’s voyage.
All these photographs were the work of Francis Browne who died in 1960 and was almost forgotten by this time. Subsequent investigations revealed he had enjoyed worldwide fame in 1912 when his photographs of the Titanic’s journey to Cobh were published worldwide. He had travelled first class to Cobh having been given a ticket by his uncle Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne. His remarkable pictures proved to be unique.
So it was that Frank was presented with a first class ticket for the Maiden Voyage of the Titanic to bring him as far as Cobh. The morning of the 12th.April 1912 he arrived at Waterloo Station in London to catch the Titanic Special. He immediately started taking photographs, first recording the train journey and then life aboard the Titanic on the initial section of the voyage. Having made friends with a wealthy American family he was offered a ticket for the remaining part of the journey and no doubt excitedly telegraphed a request for permission to go on to New York, to which he received the terse response “Get Off That Ship——Provincial!” That telegram not only saved Frank’s life but also meant that this unique record of the voyage was saved for posterity and guaranteed overnight fame for Frank Browne.
Browne later described the event as “the only time holy obedience saved a man’s life.”
“Get Off That Ship——Provincial!” – I guess many have wondered about this instruction ? , its almost prophetic in its nature – I guess we will never know how or why it was such a strong and clear order . I think it relates to the fact that while many embraced the new-world of 1912 technology, many also stood in fear of it and in this case clearly for good reason.
Frank Browne , April 1912 – Titanic Gallery