John Hodges 1848 - 1940
John Hodges would have had a desperately difficult upbringing in the poorest quarter of Southampton. During the years of his childhood, it was recorded that as many as 70 people might share one toilet, and in his 17th year, an outbreak of cholera killed 165 of the population.
Little wonder that he took to the sea in 1867, and that was where he spent a large part of his life. He was skipper of a pilot's cutter, 'The Deerhound', until the turn of the century, before taking on 'The Jessica', stationed off Hythe.
So, I think it's almost certain that 'Old Jack' would have witnessed the Titanic leaving the port on her ill-fated maiden voyage. What his impressions might have been, I'll never know. He died in 1940, aged 91, so I never knew him.
'Old Jack' (seated) and Otto Blow
But if anyone could have told a tale of how 882 ft 6 in of Olympic-class ocean liner looked as she left Southampton Water, 'Old Jack' could, with a little help from his old pal, Otto Blow, no doubt.