Millvina Dean boarded the Titanic in Southampton on 10 April 1912 with her father Bertram, mother Ettie and older brother Bertram. Like many other passengers travelling in third class the Dean family were emigrating to the United States to start a new life. The Deans were heading to Wichita in Kansas, where Bertram intended to open a tobacconists.
Bertram Dean was one of nearly four hundred men in third class to die in the sinking, only one-eighth of third class men survived. Ettie survived, as did around nearly 90 third-class women passengers, just under half of those onboard. Millvina and her brother Bertram survived, yet they were amongst only one-third of third-class children to survive.
Millvina was the youngest survivor of the Titanic disaster and the family returned to England aboard the White Star Line Adriatic in May 1912. They resettled in Southampton, where Millvina lived and worked for the rest of her life. In later life Millvina found herself in demand for interviews about the Titanic, and at Titanic conventions and events across the world.
Millvina was a regular guest of honour at the annual British Titanic Society convention each year, signing autographs and posing for photographs with convention attendees. Her good nature and sense of humour were always evident, even in later years as she became more frail. She died on 31 May 2009, the 97th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic. The memorial garden in her memory was unveiled on the third anniversary of her passing.
The memorial garden occupies a small plot of land, created on the corner of Commercial Road and Havelock Road, in the centre of Southampton. The garden is adjacent to the SeaCity Museum, which opened on the 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Titanic on 10 April 1912.
The garden is elliptically-shaped and is surrounded by low privet hedging in green and gold, with border beds to the west and east planted with flowers, herbaceous perennials and shrubs. Two curved Portland stone exedra (benches) are located at the northern and southern extents of the garden, facing inwards towards the garden's centre.
The garden is bisected by a path running roughly south-west to north-east. On the north-side of the path, in the centre of the garden is a granite stone. The stone is a tall rectangular slab, with an undressed face and smooth sides and chamfered top, with a painted inscription:
This garden is dedicated in memory of Millvina Dean The youngest and final Titanic survivor 2 February 1912 - 31 May 2009 "Have a kind heart and a sense of humour."
The garden was jointly funded by Southampton City Council and the Millvina Fund. The fund was formed to allow people to donated to provide help with Millvina's nursing home expenses, as she was forced to sell many of her belongings to fund her care. After her death the Fund, in consultation with its subscribers, agreed to use the remaining funds for the memorial garden in Southampton.