A postcard sent from a passenger on the ill-fated Titanic liner is set to fetch up to £4,000 at auction.

Andrew Johnston, who lived with his family in Thornton Heath, sent the postcard to his dad from the ship as it left Queenstown, now Cobh in Cork, Ireland.

The 35-year-old was emigrating to Connecticut with his wife Eliza and their children William and Catherine.

The master plumber wrote to apologise he “had not time to write before we sailed”.

He continued: “We don’t get to New York til Wednesday next so I will write when we get there.”

But the ship famously hit an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912. The bodies of the Johnston family were never found.

The postcard was addressed to William Johnston, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire and signed “your affectionate son, Andrew”.

Mr Johnston was “well liked” by the local community according to the Croydon Times report of their death on April 20, 1912.

It said Mr and Mrs Johnston, who lived in Luna Street, were a “highly respected couple”.

The family was spoken of very highly by Mrs Haliburton and Mr W Lias, of the Beulah Road Council School.

And the paper reported the children were “very bright and always speaking to the teachers and their friends of their journey to America and their new home there”.

In a tragic twist, the family were due to sail the previous year on the Philadelphia ship, but the sailing was cancelled due to a coal strike.

Instead they rebooked onto the Titanic, ticket 6607 costing £23 and nine shillings, and boarded the ship in Southampton, travelling as 3rd class passengers.

The following morning it stopped in Cork to pick up passengers and this is when the postcard was sent, with the name of the ship on the blank message area on the back of the white card with the date and time.

With the centenary of the sinking this year, it is expected the sale of the postcard will have worldwide attention with the lot expected to reach £4,000 or more.

The auction is being organised by MacDonnell Whyte and takes place in the Hilton hotel, Charlemont Place, Dublin on January 21 at 1pm.

Your Local Guardian: Titanic postcard sent by Thornton Heath man