Wilfred George Fairhurst was born in Grappenhall, Cheshire on 5 April 1885, the son of George Aaron and Sarah Annie Fairhurst.
He first joined the Cunard Steamship Company in 1906 as a junior engineer and served on the
Carpathia, the Lusitania, the Mauretania and the Sylvania,
all the time gaining experience and promotion.
He later married Margaret Maria Pattison, who herself came from a seafaring family, many of her relatives being sea-going engineers for Cunard. They set up home at 5 Morningside, Great Crosby, Liverpool, Lancashire and on 8 July 1910 their only child, Neville P Fairhurst was born.
It was whilst serving on the Carpathia on 15 April 1912 that Wilfred Fairhurst’s ship helped to rescue survivors from the ill-fated White Star line ship Titanic, which had struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and sunk, during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Afterwards Wilfred and other members of the
Carpathia’s crew were presented with a medal, a gold watch and other honours, in recognition of the rescue.
On 12 April 1915 at Liverpool, he engaged as First Intermediate Third Engineer in the Engineering Department on board the
Lusitania and reported for duty five days later before the Cunarder left the River Mersey for the last time. His monthly rate of pay for the job was £15-0s-0d.
He was killed three weeks later when the ship was sunk and as his body was never recovered and identified he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing of the Mercantile Marine, at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 30 years.
On 1 July 1915 administration of his estate was granted to his widow Margaret. His effects amounted to £274-14s-4d (£274.72). In August 1915 the balance of wages owing to him in respect of his sea service were also sent to her. This period was reckoned from 17 April to 8 May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had sunk. In addition the Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Margaret to compensate her for the loss of her husband. This amounted to £82-8s-6d (£82.42½) payable at the rate of £6-17s-5d (£6.87) per month.
Soon after the sinking Margaret her son Neville moved to 'Ravensdal', Stuart Road, Great Crosby to live with her father, John Shearer Pattison, a former Chief Engineer of the Cunard Company who had retired in 1910.
Wilfred's name was also engraved on a brass plaque belonging to the Liverpool Branch of The Marine Engineers’ Association which used to be in the Britannia Rooms in the Cunard Building in Liverpool. Underneath the badge of the association was engraved: -
"ROLL OF HONOUR
A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF
THE MEMBERS, WHO LOST THEIR LIVES
THROUGH ENEMY ACTION IN THE
GREAT WAR. 1914 - 1919"
and then followed the names of the 226 former members.
The memorial is not in the building today however and its location, if it has survived, is not known.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, George Donnison, Neville Fairhurst, Liverpool Echo, Marine Engineers’ Association Journal, Probate Records, PRO BT 334.