The Millvina Dean Memorial Garden is a small garden that sits on the corner of Watts Park and is adjacent Southampton's Sea City Museum. The garden is quite small and simple, but provides a quiet place to sit and enjoy the sun. It is one of many locations around the city that piece together the important moments, people and places of Southampton's maritime history.
Millvina Dean as a baby with her brother Bertram. Author unknown; public domain.
Millvina Dean is best known and remembered for being the youngest passenger on board the RMS Titanic, as well as the last living survivor until her death in 2009. She was just 2 months old when she boarded the ship with her parents and her brother. The family were third class passengers; initially they had plans to emigrate to America on a different ship, but a coal strike led to them being transferred. Dean's father, Bertram Frank Dean, died aboard the Titanic, but Millvina, her brother and her mother all survived.
Milvina Dean in 1999. Photo: Stephen Daniels. Creative Commons 3.0.
Famous from a very young age, on the Dean family's return to England aboard the RMS Adriatic officers had to enforce a rule that "first and second class passengers might hold her [Millvina] in turn for no more than ten minutes".
Throughout her life Dean worked as a cartographer, secretary and tobacconist's assistant. She made appearances at Titanic events throughout her later years. Millvina Dean passed away on 31 May 2009 at 97 years of age. Her ashes were scattered at the docks where the Titanic had departed.
The Millvina Dean Memorial Garden
A small memorial sits in the centre of the garden, dedicating it to Millvina's memory. The dedication also features a quote from Millvina, "have a kind heart and a sense of humour." The memorial was established by the Southampton City Council and the Millvina Fund in 2012.
The garden is fenced by a green and gold hedge, and has flower beds either side that flower through Spring and Summer. There are two curved benches, and a park that runs through the centre and connects with the other city parks and the Cultural Quarter.
It's location adjacent the Southampton City Sea Museum is fitting. The museum's Titanic exhibits form a major part of the collection and it is an important location in Southampton's Titanic story. While the garden is a nice quiet place to sit, it's best visited in conjunction with a trip to the museum to really appreciate its significance.
The garden is easily accessible, and not walled off by any gates or fences. You can visit any time of day or night, but if you're wanting to visit the museum as well the opening hours are 10am-5pm 7 days a week, with last admissions at 4pm.
The Millvina Dean Memorial Garden forms part of Southampton's Central Parks including Watts Park, East Park, Palmerston Park, Houndwell Park, and Hoglands Park. When you're visiting one, it's always worthwhile to continue round and stroll through the others.