Passengers from Kent among those who perished in the disaster

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A hundred years ago this week the Titanic set off on its maiden voyage to America, its passengers blissfully unaware of the tragedy that lay ahead.

Among them was Kate Buss, a 36-year-old woman from Sittingbourne who was travelling to the US to wed her fiancé, and Richard Henry Rouse, a 50-year-old coal miner, also from Sittingbourne, who was emigrating with his family after losing his job in a coal strike.

Other passengers from Kent were Frank and Emily Goldsmith, aged 31 and 33, from Strood, and their son Frank, 9, as well as 29-year-old Elizabeth Nye from Folkestone.

Kent resident Harry Bristow, 39, who was living in Bromley, was working as a first class saloon steward onboard the ship.

But the tales of these passengers ended very differently, with some surviving the disaster and others perishing in the Atlantic.

Miss Buss, who was born in Shakespeare Road, booked her trip on the Titanic as a second class passenger for £13.

According to records, she joined the liner in Southampton, spending her days socialising with other second class passengers until that fateful night on April 14, 1912, when disaster struck.

Archives suggest Miss Buss had been lying in her bunk reading a newspaper when the collision occurred.

She went to the cabin of fellow female passenger Marion Wright and the pair went out onto deck where they were told the ship had hit an iceberg.

After being instructed to put on warm clothes by a man named in records as Douglas Norman, Miss Buss was loaded onto a lifeboat with her female companion.

According to records, when they reached the Carpathia – the ship which became famous for the part it played in rescuing passengers from the stricken liner– Miss Buss was last to leave the lifeboat due to her fear of heights and the prospect of climbing the rope ladder onto deck.

On arriving in New York, Miss Buss was taken to a hostel for women and was later helped by an American reverend who had been contacted by the then-vicar of Sittingbourne.

She eventually reached San Diego after receiving funds from the American Red Cross, and met her fiancé. The couple were married on May 11, just a month after the Titanic set sail on its doomed voyage.

According to archives, Miss Buss died aged 96 in July 1972.

The story of the other Sittingbourne passenger, however, ended in tragedy.

Mr Rouse, who lived in New Road, perished in the disaster. His body – if recovered – was never identified.

Archives state the 50-year-old had been travelling to America to his daughter’s house before bringing his wife Charity and eight-year-old daughter Gladys over permanently.

He had lost his job as a coal miner and was hoping to find work in the US.

According to reports the whole family was to emigrate to Cleveland, Ohio, but Mr Rouse chose to sail ahead to find work and set up a place to live.

Before his doomed trip, he took his wife and daughter to view the Titanic in Southampton and archives state that Mrs Rouse was so overcome with fear she told her husband: “This ship is too big, it will never reach America” and attempted to talk him out of travelling on the liner.

But he argued that the ship was “unsinkable” and boarded in Southampton as a third class passenger with a ticket costing £8.

Elizabeth Nye, from Folkestone, was 29 when she boarded the Titanic.

The daughter of a coach builder who was part of the Folkestone’s Salvation Army corps, she was travelling back to America to continue work for the Salvation Army following a visit to her hometown.

According to reports, she spent five hours in a lifeboat as people drowned around her.

She was one of the last survivors to be rescued. In the 1980s, when divers reached the wreck of the Titanic, a jug with the inscription ‘A Present from Folkestone’ was found, which historians believe belonged to Ms Nye.

Kent passenger Emily Goldsmith lost her husband in the sinking and crew member Harry Bristow perished.

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