As we approach the 110th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, it is interesting to highlight a local man who died in the icy waters of the Atlantic in April 1912.

William Thomas Kerley lived at Woodminton Cottages, Bowerchalke and on the release of the Titanic film ‘A Night to Remember’ in 1957, many locals came forward to say they knew “Tom” Kerley.

Mr Will Case knew the Kerley family, as did a Mrs Hardiman, of Shaftesbury, who reported in 1957: “The young man Tommy Kerley, as he was called, had two brothers and four or five sisters. The family left Bowerchalke soon after the disaster.”

Mr Case reported that Tom was a steward and that his father was a farm worker. Mr H.E. Trowbridge, of Coombe Bissett, actually saw “Tom” leave the village to go to sea.

He related that as a boy he was playing with his friend in his garden at Bowerchalke when: “Tom came in to say goodbye to his parents. As he left he actually joked about going to the bottom. How prophetic he was being, but no notice was taken at the time. He was only joking. He was, I am told, a cheery fellow.”

Mr Branchard, of Pembroke Road, Salisbury, also knew both Tom and his father.

Tom Kerley was employed by the White Star Line as an assistant saloon steward (2nd class) and the Titanic was his first and last ship. He was found by the tanker SS Ottawa who, on searching his clothes, found a wallet bearing the initials W.T.K and inside was cash, a love letter and a business card. Tom Kerley was only 28 – he was buried at sea with full ceremony.

A presentation will take place telling the story of Salisbury’s Titanic connections at 7.30pm on Wednesday April 13 at The Pheasant, Salt Lane.