One of the greatest human tragedies of the 20th century, the sinking of the Titanic in the early hours of April 15, 1912, contained within it stories of human endeavour, transcendent love, heroism and even humour. One descendant of a survivor is reported to have said: “Why can't we forget about the Titanic now?”. But, of course, we can’t, and in the second of the Belfast Telegraph’s Titanic Tales supplements we look at all the aspects of the experience, from the heroic work of the Belfast yardmen and the fate of Lady Duff Gordon's mauve kimono to the criticism of the “asinine American” Senator Smith who handled the American inquiry. 2012 is the centenary year of Harland & Wolff’s great ship and it’s a tale that needs to be told. We hope you enjoy this retelling.
Editor: Gail Walker Design Editor: Heather Byrne Editorial: Jane Hardy, Michael Conaghan Pictures: Peter Rainey Design/Production: Robert Doherty, Elaine Smyth
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WHO OWNED LUCILE’S KIMONO?
THE famous mauve silk kimono that Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon was wearing during her controversial escape from the sinking ship with husband Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, had an interesting post-Titanic history to match that of its fashion designer wearer. Although the garment, supposed to be unpleasantly stained as Lucile became seasick, was thought to have been left to her grandson, Lord Halsbury, it was sold in 2001 to author Phillip Gowan by Titanic enthusiast Randy Bryan Bigham, who claimed he’d originally received it as a gift. Phillip, who said he’d seen letters of provenance, sent Randy the cash and excitedly described his trophy as having “a certain musty smell reminiscent of some old houses” and a series of yellow stains. The new owner, who’d seen the famous kimono scrunched up in its previous home, had a special cabinet made and exhibited the pre-eminent piece in his collection, but was then challenged by the Duff Gordon family and Randy Bigham over ownership. After a lengthy dispute, with claims and counter-claims, the kimono was eventually thought to have belonged not to Lucile but to her daughter Esme. ■
NO CLUE TO IMPENDING TRAGEDY
THE LAUNCH of the Titanic on May 31, 1911 was a moment of immense pride in Edwardian Belfast, with cheering crowds gathered anywhere they could find space in and around the shipyard to see the great ship take to the sea. As one local journalist wrote: "If the circumstances under which the launch took place can be accepted as an augury of the future, the Titanic should be a huge success." Not many people around now remember that joyful day but the late John Parkinson, former President of the Belfast Titanic Society, did. John's father Frank worked on the ship and the young boy watched as the great liner was launched. He recalled: "I remember asking him ‘How can a ship that big stay up in the water?' My father's response was instant: 'Johnny, that ship will always stay up in the water'". ■
NOT QUITE MOST PLUSH SHIP EVER
THE Titanic, as its name indicated, was a record breaker in mere size alone. It was not built for speed, but rather passenger comfort, and even there it fell short of the achievement of earlier White Star vessel The Oceanic dubbed by all the "crowning glory of the 19th century". Some aspects of the ship's design looked even further back in time. Her stern was an exact copy of an 18th century sailing ship. The lack of technical development to go with her size meant that such a large ship would be slow to turn and therefore the Titanic was uniquely vulnerable to the kind of emergency she eventually faced. ■
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T U O B A H T U THE TR K C A L B N I . . LAUNCH. AND WHITE
The Titanic launched proudly in the White Star Line colours, with a black hull, but when her sister ship Olympic II was launched four years earlier, she was subjected to a marketing exercise. To enable the photographers of the time to get a decent photo, and to make the vessel appear larger, she was temporarily painted white. This publicity exercise wasn’t necessary for the Titanic. ■
It’s a write-off
MYSTERY LOLF FINAL TO
out hen talking ab ure quoted w fig l hed ua ris us pe e s th ul 517 is how many so ALTHOUGH 1, e “iceknown exactly t th d no is lle it ca s, ch ie ily Sket Titanic fatalit what The Da ship weren’t ip after it hit mbers on the nu e aboard the sh th of es ur fig the British ise on ec d pr se monster”, as estimates ba e tiv va er ns which repreore co 711 survived, available. M s: 1,495 died, w llo e families fo m so as , e lly inquiry ar .2%. Tragica 32 of te ra ow Maral ding Irish wid sents a surviv iped out, inclu w y and el et hn pl Jo m d were co ildren an d her five ch and, gl En in , garet Rice an gh omPeterborou Annie Sage fr ■ nine children. r ei th with
A SPATE of fictional treatments of the Titanic disaster has hit the bookshops, among them Dan James’ Unsinkable (Random House). Dan James, not the author’s real name, covers the ground pretty pacily and with a touch of humour, mixing fictional and real characters including Captain Smith, J Bruce Ismay and Jack Phillips. David J Kowalski’s exercise in “alt-hist”, The Company of the Dead (Titan Books), is a different sort of novel altogether in which a mysterious man boards the Titanic carrying out a mission to save the doomed vessel. The reader then enters a parallel, brain-curdling universe in which America doesn’t enter World War I but the familiar shape of history may be restored by one Joseph Kennedy, greatnephew of JFK. Perhaps the best Titanic novel, though, remains Beryl Bainbridge’s Every Man for Himself (Abacus) apparently inspired by the film A Night to Remember and Charles Boyer who always indicated emotion, according to the novelist, via a throbbing vein. ■
A deadly business at the hard yard GEORDIE (George) McAllister (80), a retired rigger, isn’t 100% certain his grandfather, Richard Welsh, worked on the Titanic but it’s highly likely as the seaman who “used to be six to eight months at sea then work in the yards for five to six months” was also a Harland & Wolff man. He worked in security as a patrol man, keeping an eye on the slipways and potentially dangerous fires. The riveting shops were dangerous places, accordingtoGeordie.“Thenoisewastremendous and a man couldn’t have stood up inside, the way the bulkheads and double bottoms of the ships
were fixed.” Apparently, the riveters “cranked in and out of manholes”. One of the most dangerousmomentsinboatconstructionwaswhenthey removed the poles supporting the keel. “These werelikethicktelegraphpoles.They’dknockthose out and sometimes people got hit. Men had broken legs or worse.” And there were occasional fatalities. Geordie learnt about ropes at his grandpa’s knee, went into the business after leaving school at 14 and recalls the yardmen’s social life. “They worked from 6am to 8.15pm then might go for a pint at bars like the Times bar at the bottom of
Alexander Park Avenue and Michael Downey’s bar. They were full of smoke and there was a brass pipe with a flame on the bar for men to light their cigarettes. There was great camaraderie and they had a little football team attheyard.”■
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MILLIONS OF RED HOT RIVETS
WHILE the Titanic's rivets are still a topic of hot debate, the riveters themselves, the men behind the bolts, remain true heroes. The Titanic sported some 3,000,000 rivets, needed because welding techniques weren't advanced enough to join up the many steel plates in the massive hull. And although there was an up-to-date hydraulic riveting machine, in less accessible areas of the growing ship hand hammering persisted. In time-honoured fashion, one riveter would hold a red hot iron rivet — three inches long and one inch thick — with tongs in position in the lined-up holes of two adjacent plates, then a second would brace a heavy hammer against one side while the so-called "basher" on the other side hammered the rivet into place.
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Funny peculiar PERHAPS surprisingly for such a major tragedy, the Titanic has been a constant source of material for British comics. References to the disaster have been given a comic twist by everyone from members of Monty Python, in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits, to French and Saunders in their spiffing spoof of James Cameron's epic. In a recent typically acerbic take by Mitchell and Webb, the Titanic project falls into the the dubious hands of the marketing men – "Let’s have two posters, one saying unsinkable, and the other saying sinkable. that way we're covered". But perhaps the most original homage came from the late Douglas Adams, whose 'Starship Titanic' is part fantasy, part interactive game.
HOW THE GREAT SHIP ADDED UP
THE TITANIC was funded by the American JP Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co. Construction began on March 31, 1909. She was 882.9ft long and 92ft wide, 59ft high from water level, and weighed over 46,328 tons. She was equipped with two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engines and one low-pressure Parsons turbine, which powered three propellers. There were 29 boilers fired by 159 coal burning furnaces that made possible a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). Only three of the four 62ft (19 m) funnels were functional: the fourth was added to make the ship look more impressive. The ship could carry 3,547 passengers and crew.
THE MAN WHO ROWED BACK TO SAVE LIVES
AT THE American inquiry, survivors gave vivid accounts of the terrible night and the life and death decisions that were made. Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, who managed to lash five boats together and with one or two others stood off from the sinking ship until he felt it was safe to row back for survivors. He said: "I did not return immediately. I had to wait until the yells and shrieks had subsided because it would have been suicide to go back there until the people had thinned out. “It would not have been wise or safe for me to have gone there before, because the whole lot of us would have been swamped and then nobody would have been saved. What are you going to do with a boat of 65 when 1,600 people are drowning?" He transferred his 53 passengers, then with his empty boat returned bravely to the wreckage. He picked up four alive, but one died, a Mr Hoyt of New York. Then the Carpathia arrived and provided a kind of salvation.
The City Hall connection THE CITY Hall, home to the Belfast city council, was built in 1906, but it is in many ways an architectural twin to the Titanic. The Lord Mayor, at the time of its opening, credited the Titanic's creator, William Pirrie, with having "the big ideas" for the City Hall. He is also known to have christened the impres-
sive buliding "the stone Titanic" an epithet which thankfully hasn't lasted. But Pirrie's influence has. The Lord Mayor's suite, in which portraits of Lord and Lady Pirrie hang, is known as the Titanic Rooms embellished by craftsmen who worked on the City Hall and helped design the great liner.
A NAZI K R O W F PIECE O JAMES Cameron's epic has sometimes been accused of an anti-British bias, particuarly in its somewhat romanticised portrayal of the Irish, but there was a time when the story was deliberately used as anti-British and anti-American propaganda. In 1943, the film Titanic was supposed to be a Nazi polemic on evil AngloAmerican capitalists versus brave German crewmen. But the film, like Cameron's, an absurdly expensive production, was fraught with difficulties. Its first director Herbert Selpin, after being arrested and questioned by the Gestapo, was found hanged in his cell. The cinema in which it was supposed to open was bombed the night before the premiere. Eventually, after a tepid run, it was banned by
the man who had intitially commissioned it, Joseph Goebells. And in a last, blackly ironic twist, the cruise ship on which much of the action was filmed, the SS Cap Arcona, was sunk just before the end of the war with a greater loss of life than on the actual Titanic.
A scene from the movie
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The board game that sank without a trace INEVITABLY, it seems, a board game was produced in 1975 called The Sinking of The Titanic. The rules were brutally simple: "The Titanic is sinking. Players must race around and rescue passengers from their staterooms and rush to the lifeboats before the ship sinks. â€œAfter the ship sinks, you must get enough of (sic) food and water by visiting islands and/or drawing cards to stay
alive until the rescue boat appears and the first one to make it there wins the game." Best, it emphasised, played with four players. Also inevitably, the game caused offence, mainly because of the use of the name Titanic. The makers, Ideal, withdrew the game, and then rereleased it with identical graphics and artwork under the name Abandon Ship.
If you want to get ahead, get a (top) hat WORKERS and officials at Harland & Wolff in Belfast could easily be recognised by their headgear. Yardmen, who did the backbreaking work, wore flat caps known as "dunchers", foremen wore bowler hats and men in management were in the habit of wearing top hats.
Why Roosevelt proved himself to be class act THE PART of a ship closest to the rudder was known as steerage, and passengers in steerage paid the lowest fare. Steerage passengers travelling to the States were likely to be prospective immigrants and when they disembarked in America, unlike people in classier accom-
ONE FOR A THE...ICY SE
es in the icy le lost their liv at more peop th ed e ship that th im cla ith w n IT WAS an went dow e th ic nt la At e rkenhead, th waters of th Joughin, of Bi Charles John e on He r rs. fo t rro bu night, ntly held no te itions appare w freezing cond g alcohol, thre on str lf with n devices, tio ta fortified himse flo as t erboard to ac ed, deckchairs ov out, he claim the waves with to n in hi ed ug pp Jo . ste and h the water ad go beneat the by d ise gn letting his he co re till wreckage un By a twist clung to the rescued him. en th ho w ok Oregon ship's co SS e th also aboard of fate he was r; ou history in Boston harb when it sank the same ed us if he doesn't record rvival. method of su
modation, had to undergo examination on board for communicable diseases like typhoid and diphtheria. So that nobody in steerage could "infect" cabin class passengers, ships were designed to keep their quarters separate. This was most easily achieved with lockable
gates, as on board the Titanic. Not everybody favoured this segregated system and President Theodore Roosevelt said, in 1910, that steerage should be abolished so immigrants would "feel that they were entering into a new life of selfrespect, with privacy and cleanliness".
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The last letter of Albert George Ervine, Belfast man and Titanic engineer
LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE?
THE TITANIC disaster and its aftermath is a story of human resilience tested to the uttermost. With separation of husbands from wives, mothers from children, the emotional toll was almost unbearable. One young girl who showed true grit was 12-year-old Ruth Becker Blanchard. The daughter of an American Lutheran missionary, Ruth was born in Guntur, India in 1899. When her brother became ill, Ruth's mother, Nellie, decided to take him and the rest of the family to Michigan for treatment. Ruth, her mother, and her younger brother and sister boarded the RMS Titanic as second-class passengers, with her father intending to them later. Nellie boarded lifeboat no 11 with her two youngest children but there was no room left for Ruth. While her mother sobbed in despair, Ruth managed to make it into lifeboat no 13, which nearly proved as unlucky as its number. While being lowered, it was nearly crushed by lifeboat no 15 but a crew member cut no 15's ropes in the nick of time. On the Carpathia, there was a happy reunion between Ruth and her family. Ruth lived to the age of 90 and her ashes were scattered on the spot where the Titanic sank.
ALBERT, who died aged 18, having asked to be transferred to the Titanic with his friend Albert Pirrie Middleton, wrote this letter home. Born in Belfast, he attended Inst and is remembered on four separate monuments to the engineers.
City Hall’s very own moving monument
ON FIRE SINCE SHE SET SAIL!
HAD the deadly iceberg not struck, there was another pressing problem on board the great vessel. That was fire. J Dilley, a fireman, from London, reported after the disaster that a fire had started in bunker no 6 after the Titanic left Southampton. "From the day we sailed the Titanic was on fire and my sole duty, together with 11 other men, had been to fight that fire. We had made no headway... It started in bunker no 6. There were hundreds of tons of coal stored there. The coal on top of the bunker was wet, as all the coal should have been, but down at the bottom of the bunker the coal had been permitted to get dry." It caught fire and although the wet coal on top damped it down, underneath "the flames was a-raging". The passengers knew nothing of this and the firemen planned to call on the New York fireboats for help when they docked. In the event, they didn't need to – bunker no 6 was where the iceberg tore the biggest hole and the seawater doused the fire.
NO FLARES IN THE LIFEBOATS
AS the lifeboats pulled away, there was the constant threat of being sunk by passengers who were in the water, swimming for their lives, and eager to board. So the hard decision was made to extinguish the lamps that some had managed to bring onto the lifeboats from the ship. Later in that longest night the boats without lamps had to improvise flares to attract attention from any passing vessel that might save them.
, Y E N O M T E G R FO ! S E G N A R O E H GRAB T
ard the ssenger on bo o, a cabin pa nt ro To fire and of on s n, Peuche if your house wa MAJOR A. J. case, it t would you do ha his In "W ly. e th ge an ed Titanic, answer s?" question str ing th eting o ck tw po or of e ad save on s sinking. Inste you could only g box in as the Titanic wa on ve str sa a in he ies uld d securit was what wo ey, jewellery an later: "The only he had in mon anges. He said or the $300,000 e re th up k pic to ed d had always rn re tu be re his cabin, he which I remem pin le litt a s s instead of wa d three orange trinket I saved d up the pin an ke pic ident of I es k. pr luc e e th , brought m ts." With that en m cu do e th d nada and the money an mpany of Ca Chemical Co rd t Club da ch an Ya St the Canadian e of the Royal rt sta to d re vice-commodor de or a lifeboat and was thrust into rowing.
SIR THOMAS Brock's Titanic memorial started life in the early '20s as a statue in the middle of the roadway in front of Belfast's City Hall. Showing the body of a seaman being received by the goddess of death, Thane, and flanked by a couple of mermaids, the statue contains a list of 22 names of Ulster men who lost their lives on board the Titanic. By the 1950s this beautiful statue was proving a distraction to the increasing volume of traffic in Donegall Square. Moved in 1960 to the City Hall grounds, the Titanic memorial then faced another hazard, the popular but adjacent Belfast Eye. Now that the Eye has gone, the memorial and its tribute to the "22 Ulstermen who lost their lives in the Titanic" can be enjoyed – among the men are Thomas Andrews and Roderick Chisholm of the Titanic 9man Guarantee Group but also less well-known figures like Roderick Chisholm, chief ship's draughtsman, Robert Knight, hand fitter, Ennis Watson, apprentice electrician, Hugh Fitzpatrick of the boilermaker crew and Archibald Scott, of the firemen's crew.
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No go without a logo
Thousands of tons of coal DURING the few weeks just before the Titanic set sail, Britain was in the grip of a national coal strike, held to establish the first ever minimum wage for miners. Coal supplies dwindled and the shipping industry was badly affected. But the Titanic's maiden voyage was never at risk as the White Star Line made contingency plans, cancelling crossings of the Oceanic and Adriatic and transferring their stocks of coal to the new ship. Coal was also bought in from rival lines. After the disaster, White Star Line representatives tried to use the argument that the Titanic wasn't carrying enough coal to reach the dangerously high speed some blamed for the collision. In fact, her bunkers on departure held nearly 6,000 tons of coal, plenty for all speeds.
THERE were kosher plates on the Titanic, labelled for milk or meat, and provided for the ship's Jewish passengers. At the start of the age of advertising, nothing could not be branded and the White Star Line's logo was on virtually everything – from dinner service and chamber pots to playing
cards and deckchair rugs – which would have given each passenger the sense of being wrapped in the company's warm care.
Forty year wait for compensation THE HOLD the Titanic has on the descendants of victims and the men involved with the boat is like a strong current. Journalist Susie Millar (right), owner of Titanic Tours, remembers hearing stories about her great-grandfather Thomas (below), an engineer who worked on the ship and met his end on board, aged 33, and a widower who left his two young sons orphaned. She says: "Tommy was an assistant deck engineer on board the Titanic. He left a good job as an engine fitter at Harland & Wolff to sign up with the Red Star aboard Gothland and then (went on) his second voyage with Titanic. “His two sons, Tommy junior, aged 11 and William Ruddick, aged 5, were orphaned by the Titanic disaster and brought up by their
father's aunt, who had eight children of her own, and received 5s weekly allowance. “Ruddick went on to become a playwright and author and wrote many stories about his father and the effect the Titanic's sinking had upon his young life. He lived at 27 Hillman Street, Belfast, which no longer exists as the area has been redeveloped." It wasn't until 1952 that Tommy Junior and Ruddick received any compensation from the National Disasters Relief Fund (Titanic) when each of them received £200 in "full and final settlement". Susie's grandfather died two years later, aged only 46. He and Ruddick left a poignant legacy, two pennies their father gave them before boarding the ship, saying "Don't spend them until we're together again." These
are currently on loan to a Titanic show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
O T S S A L G A E S I A R O T E T A L P WHERE E M A N S ’ 2 1 O N LIFEBOAT IF YOU want to toast the Titanic's launch, remembering the glory, you should head for Robinson's bar, opened in Belfast in 1895 and one of the pubs the Titanic workers would most likely have visited on days off. There's a stash of Titanic memorabilia in the saloon bar, including the publicity leaflet detailing the delights of travel on board the Olympic and Titanic, the brass nameplate of lifeboat no 12, some china that would have been used by first and second class passengers and also the so-called Philomena doll, which was picked up without her owner some weeks after the ship went down.
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Why ship never reached
THE Titanic’s sea trials were scheduled to start on an inauspicious date, April 1, 1912, the same day Captain Smith took over from one Herbert Haddock. They were later considered inadequate. In fact, she was tested on April 2, manned by a basic English crew of 80, and watched by an enthusiastic audience of
several hundred, the Titanic was finally taken from her dock by tugs and pulled onto Belfast Lough. It was 6am and for the rest of the morning, the Titanic completed manoeuvres in the lough, doing twists, turns and full circles. Bringing the ship to a complete halt took three minutes, or half a mile.
An eerie song BLIND Willie Johnson was a travelling preacher who made some eerie sounds on his slide guitar. Among his bestselling gospel records, produced at the end of the 1920s, was this individual take on the Titanic story. Blind Willie didn’t write his own material and one of his trademarks was to sing the first half of a line, then finish the phrase on guitar, relying on his audience to fill in the gap. The lyrics of God Moves on the Water mentioned Captain Smith and stated “many gunshots were fired” but this wasn’t a hellfire and damnation view, suggesting the Almighty sank the Titanic in judgement, more an exploration of His mysterious ways.
That’s one Titanic bite THERE have been various tie-ins, not always tasteful, although a wheeze dreamed up by an English burger bar last year takes some beating. They created an immense burger, really a Bunterish meal containing 2lb of prime beef, 8oz chicken breast, six rash-
ers of bacon, two potato waffles, four onion rings, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, gherkins and, of course, a burger bun. And if you manage to sink the Titanic burger at Oscar’s Diner in Shropshire, England, then, guess what, you win another meal.
WHERE N E M D R A Y WENT FOR BATH
ONE of the Titanic yardmens’ institutions in east Belfast, apart from the pubs in Sailortown, was the Templemore public baths. This Victorian building, built in 1891 by Robert Watt, housed a pool and bathing facilities which people, whose homes didn’t have bathrooms, used for their daily, or weekly, ablutions.
Picture: Gary Proctor / Reflective Earth Freelance Photography
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In the afternoon, she sailed 40 miles into the Irish Sea before returning. The Titanic never achieved her maximum speed, 24 knots, and later Fifth Officer Lowe told the US inquiry, that “she was not really put to it”.
OR REASON FB S T A O E F I L F O LACK d ring safety an gulations cove re e ad rry Tr ca of ght to THE BOARD oats a ship ou w many lifeb hether a ship w specifically ho to d rre fe date. They re ghed were out of t (Titanic wei tons in weigh 00 into ,0 10 ed er vid was ov it was di and whether only as w ic an Tit 45,000 tons) e So th mpartments. fts and floats watertight co eboats, plus ra lif 16 rry ca the lifeboat obliged to of rs three quarte to le, up ng di ad held 962 peop should have ts, so, in oa eb capacity. They lif e or had four m ue but the ship able to resc ld have been ou sh , at ry d eo ar th on bo 53% of those 1,178, about saster. di e th of e the tim
Hope and honour by Terry Bradley, from his Sailortown and Titanic series
Widow who was unlucky in love WIFE and widow, one of the Titanic honeymooners, 18-year-old first class passenger, Eloise Hughes Smith, was brought up opposite the White House and married moneyed Lucian Philip Smith, heir to a mining fortune. Returning from Europe, the couple were woken briefly by the collision and completely when the boat stopped. Lucian told his young wife she had to obey him and board a lifeboat, reassuring her it was only a matter of form and that everybody left on the ship would survive. His last words reminded her to keep her hands in her pockets as it was cold. On the Carpathia, Eloise met 27-yearold banker Robert Williams Daniel, whom she married in 1914. They divorced, and Eloise, who had a honeymoon baby, her son Lucian Jr, married twice more before dying, aged 46.
Giant of the deep
THE WORD ‘titanic’ means “Having great stature or enormous strength; huge or colossal, eg titanic creatures of the deep.” and it comes from some gigantic gods found in Greek mythology. The powerful race of Titans, initially numbering 12 and descended from Gaia and Uranus, ruled during the so-called golden age and were supplanted by the Olympians.
ER A fatal W O P L A E R E TH manoeuvre E S O H T BEHIND GS N I T N I A P Y BRADLE BELFAST artist Terry Bradley is famous for his portraits of glamorous women, but he’s also acclaimed for his gritty paintings of the dockers and workers who built the Titanic. As Terry says, when he started these paintings in the '90s he was on a mission to capture the strength of Belfast’s men. “I grew up in north Belfast in the middle of the Troubles and there were a lot of negatives. I wanted to portray the power, honesty
and hardworking quality of these guys. So although the men I paint are damaged, with broken noses, coming out of fights, they also represent hope, honour and trust.” Having researched the history of the Titanic, Terry, who is the patron of the Sailortown charity, knows the energy and toughness of the workforce and in his characteristic style, sums up the mood captured in period photos.
SHORTLY before the collision, the nearby Californian contacted Titanic's wireless operator, Jack Phillips, to warn him there was quite a lot of ice around. Phillips literally told them to shut up. Ironically, had the Titanic's captain, Edward J. Smith, ploughed straight into the iceberg with the same disdain his wireless operator had shown, the Titanic probably would have survived the impact. Only two forward compartments would have flooded, allowing the ship to remain afloat. But because of Smith’s diligence, the ship's attempt to turn caused flooding in five compartments along its starboard side, more damage than the ship could withstand.
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NOT SUCH A TOFF
ARTHUR Gordon McCrae, aged 32, who was picked up by the Mackay-Bennett ship, as body no 209, had an interesting family background. An Australian through and through, he was born in Adelaide on January 7, 1880, but his lineage shows him to be an aristo from the other side of the blanket. Arthur's grandmother was Georgiana Huntly McCrae (1804-1890), the illegitimate daughter of George, 5th Duke of Gordon and Jane Graham. Georgiana migrated to Australia with her husband Andrew (1800-1874) and they had nine children, the fourth being the marvellously named Farquhar Peregrine R McCrae, Arthur's father and a former inspector of the Bank of Australasia. Arthur, who was engaged to be married, was his youngest son.
THE MAN WHO WAS SAVED BY EXPLOSION!
EMILE Portaluppie of Aricgabo, Italy, escaped death when the Titanic went down in rather an unusual manner. The second class passenger was woken not by the initial collision but by the explosion of one of the boilers of the ship. He hurried on deck, strapped on a life jacket and leapt into the ocean. With the aid of the life jacket, and by holding on to a cake of ice, probably a splinter off one of the icebergs gathered in this part of the Atlantic, he managed to keep afloat until one of the lifeboats picked him up. He was hauled aboard and joined 35 other survivors.
SED U F E R O H W L R GI K TO WEAR BLAC
ivors on Titanic surv ION of the thered PT ga CE ds RE ow E cr TH lved curiosity, vo in brities le nd ce la nreaching d the no e names an en’s Relief om W A . ss to watch th ne d a lot of kind Nelson H disembark, an nised by Mrs formed, orga as orking on w w , ee rt itt Po m e Com Surveyor of th ilding. e th of Li ife w litan fe Bu t, Henry, the Metropo and transpor of s, or ed flo ne te the sixth ities un t for immedia rt ou po ed op nd t ha en Money was en employm also mes and ev were othes temporary ho Cl . ed the relief ng d ra ar he uc to at e n th wer lost one applicatio girl who had supplied, and om a young fr an e m ed ca ed rs ely ne worke She desperat ack as her brother. not accept bl ld ou w t bu outfit, up ve gi to she refused hope.
World’s largest moving object THERE’S something majestic about Titanic’s enormous steam engines. When launched, Titanic was the largest moving object built to date so she needed some impressive machinery to power her. It was provided by two reciprocating steam engines used to drive the port and starboard wing propellers, plus a
low-pressure steam turbine to drive the centre propeller. This was robust technology, designed to deliver reliable service rather than set speed records. The engines were assembled in the engine works’ erecting shop then dismantled and the components were taken to the fitting out wharf.
More than a macabre coincidence...? IN AMONG the fairly extensive Titanic premonition literature, The Sinking of A Modern Liner, written in 1886, by well-known journalist and spiritualist W. T. Stead, stands out. In his story, originally published in the Pall Mall Gazette, a liner leaves Liverpool, picks up passengers and mail bags in Queenstown and on its journey to New York is involved in a collision. There are too few lifeboats, total panic ensues and the captain brandishes a revolver to keep the steerage passengers from storming the deck with the lifeboats. What makes this story remarkable is the fact that by a macabre coincidence, Stead himself went down with the Titanic. Apparently, Mr Stead remained a good newsman to the end and filed his story by relaying to a medium all the relevant details, including those of his own demise.
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They sent out wrong messages
Was moon to blame?
LOTS of factors have been blamed for the Titanic disaster and its outcome, missing binoculars, the speed of the vessel, captain’s error, the wrong instructions, but now a new one can be added to the list: the moon. Apparently, a rare conjunction of the moon and sun were to blame. Scientists have calculated that the spring tide, coupled with the moon’s closest approach to the earth for 1400 years, a close encounter between the earth and sun, led to unusually high sea levels which in turn dislodged the enormous icbergs four months before the collision and the rest is maritime history.
CELLED N A C F O Y R MYSTE LL... I R D T A O B E LIF
YOUNG Harold, Bride, (22) and second in command to the Titanic’s chief wireless operator, Jack Phillips, had always wanted this job. But maybe not this particular shift as on April 14, 1912, hundreds of messages were piling up on the operators’ work station because of a wireless breakdown the day before. It took Phillips and Bride seven hours to fix the faulty circuitry. The first ice warning of the day was picked up soon after normal service was resumed and delivered personally to Captain Smith. We know that three more ice warnings were received that day, but none made it to the bridge. The Marconi men were under direct orders from the Captain and he viewed the passengers’ personal messages as more important. It took hours to clear their communications so the ice warnings were received, written down and forgotten. Phillips died on board, but Harold Bride survived, jumping into the sea and being carried off the Carpathia with bandaged feet.
A lifeboat drill was originally scheduled to take place on board the Titanic on April 14, 1912, the very day the Titanic hit the iceberg. However, for some reason that isn’t known, Captain Smith cancelled the drill. Many believe that had the drill taken place, more lives could have been saved.
Only his postcard made it home THE REV Sidney C Stuart Collett was travelling home to his parents in New York and having a bit of a sense of humour, sent them a postcard with the following verse – “Mother, put the kettle on, let’s have a cup of tea/ Ready for the dear old ‘Sid’, who’s coming home from sea;/You’ll be glad to see him, and kiss him with delight,/So mother put the kettle on, I’m coming home all right.” It was signed Sid, and the postcard showing the Titanic was the first indication to the Rev and Mrs Mawbrey E Collett of Port Byron that their son was on board the ill-fated vessel. The next news came from reading his name in the list of survivors.
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STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
WHITE STAR Line ships were famous for their classy interiors. The carving on board the Titanic, carried out by local craftsmen, matched that found on her sister ship the Olympic. One of the newel posts on the Olympic’s staircase, equalled in quality by the detail on the Titanic’s spiral staircase, shows a design of fruit and flowers that was inspired by the famous English 17th century carver, Grinling Gibbons, whose work embellishes St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
THE White Star Line, who paid the going rate for the job, mainly employed freelance workers who could be let go when the job finished. Rather bureaucratically, the number crunchers at White Star calculated surviving staff's wages up until the exact point they entered the water and according to the records, “stopped performing their allocated job”. The company received some flak over this heartless calculation and there was a public outcry.
THE OTHER DOOMED MAIDEN VOYAGE
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Courage of lost Belfast surgeon MARK Simpson, the BBC’s Ireland correspondent, says that after 20-odd years reporting on the Titanic, he was astonished to find his family was part of the story. “It turns out that Dr John Simpson was my great-grandfather's cousin. He was the assistant surgeon on board the Titanic.” A fellow journalist informed Mark Simpson (left) of the connection but he couldn’t believe it, so he asked his dad, also called John Simpson, who confirmed the Titanic link. According to surviving eyewitnesses, the stoical medic, who was only 37, stood with fellow officers on the stricken vessel, making no
SHE was the biggest ship of her day, equipped to carry 4,000 passengers to their destination without refueling, but her name is forever associated with a disastrous maiden voyage. Not the Titanic, but Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Eastern, built on the Thames from 1854-1859.
Henry Clifford painting of the Great Eastern courtesy of The National Maritime Museum
attempt to board the lifeboats himself while helping others to safety. There was even a family memento, a letter written by Dr Simpson (below) on Titanic notepaper to his mother in Belfast, that was left in Cobh, the ship’s last port of call. In it, he reported he was feeling tired but settling into his cabin well. The surgeon who treated second and third class passengers signed off “With fondest love, John”.
Her maiden voyage was scheduled to take her from Weymouth, via Holyhead acrosss the Atlantic, but she had barely sailed out of the English Channel when there was a massive explosion. Five stokers died, and many more were injured. Did the disaster break Brunel's heart?
Lord Pirrie’s TITANIC artefacts dating from the heady days before the launch of the greatest ship that ever sailed have a certain glamour. None more so than the Titanic Rolls Royce Silver Ghost that made a personal appearance at the Newcastle car show last year. The superbly appointed car
He died soon after, and the Great Eastern, after being repaired, then went on to have a chequered career as a transatlantic liner, which included a damaging encounter with a rock at Long Island, before being ignominiously broken up for scrap in 1890.
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was made to order for Harland & Wolff chairman Lord Pirrie, shortly before his ship launched in 1911. The Pirrie family crest remains intact, in spite of the many makeovers undergone by this august automobile. Sold following Lord Pirrie’s death in 1924, the Roller
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was converted into an ambulance but also, less prestigiously, had a brief experience as a breakdown truck before being renovated in the Fifties. In the Eighties, the car travelled to the States with its American owner, but it was happily repatriated in 2000 for a four-year restoration process and is now in Lincolnshire.
Y THE LAST BEODD RECOVER
£3 15s a Titanic earning steward on the ss cla , st rn fir ve a , Ta dy rm JAMES McGra from the Platfo April 6, 1912, doubt, have on no , on uld d wo ne d sig , an month the Oceanic st and best ship He'd worked on Southampton. ent on the bigge ym plo em d ine thplace as Co have ga rady gave his bir felt pleased to tic route. McG lan At anic Belfast's Tit rth of No e or assigned to th Cameron, auth n he ep St t bu , more in Cork came from Lissa Queenstown, ie a fireman and s wa that is he d at an th d Own, asserts , is undispute . One fact, sadly the in wn d Do he Co ris pe ar, sg He r. Cros e Titanic disaste th d May in h un at aro de or 's McGrady recovered, on body was later or e rin sinking and his ge r Al steamship, eithe transferred 25,1912, by a dy's body was ra cG M . ny ag Montm x, lifa Ha d taken to to the Florizel an . 11 ne Ju Nova Scotia on
Actress who made role all her own HOLLYWOOD was a ruthless business back in the early years of the 20th century, and 22-year-old silent movie star Dorothy Gibson, who was the longterm mistress of married film mogul Jules Brulatour, knew the score. She was returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with her mother on board the Titanic when she found herself centre stage in this great disaster. They both survived in lifeboat no 7, the first
launched, and Miss Gibson had no sooner arrived back in America than she started filming, Saved from the Titanic, a silent movie that started filming in New Jersey a week after the tragedy and was released in May 1912. Gibson not only starred in it, she wrote the script and re-enacted the ordeal wearing the very silk skirt and polo coat that she had on the night of the sinking. In later life, she turned to opera, divorced Brulatour and went to live in Paris.
When poet Thomas Hardy revealed his thoughts, without much compassion LIKE everybody else in Britain, Thomas Hardy quickly became aware of the Titanic disaster. He responded with a famous poem, The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the loss of the “Titanic”) which was published in 1915. The poem begins dolefully: "In a solitude of the sea/Deep from human vanity,/ And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she." goes on to talk about a "sea worm" crawling over the ship's mirrors and hardly
mentions the victims. Hardy's controversial poem contrasts mankind’s materialism with the integrity and beauty of nature. Some people thought his tone showed an absence of compassion towards the great loss of life that accompanied the sinking of the ship, something he scarcely refers to.
How Ismay declared a race to the death J. BRUCE Ismay, who gained an amazing freebie on board the Titanic as he travelled first class (but, of course, didn't pay), indicated that the Titanic was trying to outdo its fellow White Star Line vessel, the Olympic. Passenger Elizabeth Lines recalled hearing him telling Captain Smith in the First Class Reception Room at lunchtime on the Saturday before they sank: "We will beat the Olympic and get into New York on Tuesday". Ismay (below) accompanied Captain Smith on maiden voyages, but always insisted he'd played no particular role at sea on this occasion: "I was a passenger and exercised no greater rights or privileges than any other passenger. I was not consulted by the commander about the ship, her speed, course, navigation, or her conduct at sea." Yet after the accident, Ismay felt he had the right to take to the bridge.
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Before Samson and Goliath BELFAST'S two commanding structures were installed in the early 1970s, but the construction of the Titanic also needed some serious crane power. Building ships of the size of the Olympic, the Titanic and the Britannic presented new challenges to shipbuilders Harland & Wolff. William Pirrie lobbied the Belfast Harbour Commissioners to build the Thompson Graving Dock, the largest in the world, at the time, which cost around £350,000. Other facilites were
PRAYERS TO THE VERY END
AMONG the growing panic and genuine despair that gripped the passengers who remained on the Titanic's tilting deck were two men, both Catholic priests, who managed to provide some calm and spiritual succour. They were Fr David Byles and a German priest whose name isn't known. Survivor Miss Ellen Mocklare, who along with many others probably owed her life to him, recalled the way Fr Byles took command. "He said 'Be calm, my good people' and went about steerage giving absolution and blessings. The stewards ordered us to go back to bed but we would not go." When the passengers became "very excited", Father Byles raised his hand and they became calm. "The passengers were immediately impressed by the absolute self-control of the priest." she said. Fr Byles then guided the passengers to the upper deck and helped women and children into lifeboats. When offered a seat, he refused, and onlookers from lifeboats later said that a large group on board the sinking ship were calm and composed and could be heard praying.
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT TWO FILMS
THE "ocean" that extras on James Cameron’s Titanic 1997 movie had to jump into when pretending to leap for their lives was in reality about three feet deep. The pool used to film the sinking scenes in A Night to Remember, the 1958 movie based on Walter Lord's book, was deeper at 15ft, and they removed s ections of the 35ft long Titanic model as they sank.
needed – new slipways, a vast steel gantry (costing £100,000) which carried the cranes and lifts and a massive crane to permit construction of these big ships. A floating crane was imported from Germany, again the largest of its kind. It was money well spent as Harland & Wolff were responsible for building every White Star liner from the 1870s.
Lifeboat man who perished ONE of the many tragic ironies surrounding the Titanic concerns the fact that the man who designed many of the lifeboats used on the ship, Chief Draughtsman Roger Chisolm, himself lost his life in the disaster. Sixteen of the Titanic's lifeboats were built by Harland & Wolff, the largest being some 30ft long and designed to carry up to 64 people, as tests carried out at the dockyard proved. It could be argued that the lifeboats proved their worth on that night, there were just not enough of them, nor, indeed, enough people in each of them.
How 9/11 influenced JULIAN Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey and Gosford Park, is the latest writer to dramatise the Titanic story with a lavish small screen, four-episode treatment released during the centenary. It cost £11m to film and views the tragedy through the eyes of four different characters. Apparently influenced by the events of 9/11, Fellowes' Titanic focuses not on numbers or the great sweep of the event although there are dramatic scenes of victims starting to go under but on the feelings. He points out that what people recall about 9/11 is not the statistics, rather the
way people on board doomed planes and in burning buildings rang family, wives, husbands and parents, not with messages of revenge or even to ask for help but rather to express their love. Fellowes (right) said: "I was very moved by those people who rang their wives and husbands during 9/11, not to say 'Help me. I’m trapped' but to leave messages of love... The passengers in the water also behaved like that. The cries they heard from the lifeboats, when the ship had gone down and the people were in the water, weren’t all 'Help, help'.
F O Y R E V BRA S Y O B L L E THE B AMONG the hundreds who died on the Titanic were 50 youngsters, described as "happy-golucky" in one of the first accounts of the disaster, The Story of the Wreck of the Titanic. They were working as bellboys or messengers for the first class passengers. James Humphries, the quartermaster who commanded lifeboat no 11, described their death. They were called to their regular posts in the main cabin entry after the collision and taken in charge by their boss, a steward.
Ordered to remain in the cabin and not get in the way, these lads sat quitely on benches. Towards the end, when the order was given that the ship was going down and every man should fend for himself, while keeping away from the lifeboats in which the women had been taken, these bellboys scattered. Humphries said he saw numbers of them smoking cigarettes and joking with passengers. Not one tried to enter a lifeboat and none were saved.
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Fellowes Many, many times, it was 'I love you', 'I love you so much'... I did see parallels in their behaviour and it has haunted me." There is a downside to filming a wellknown tragedy and Fellowes says he is prepared for the onslaught of the Titanic experts, who may disagree with his dramatic licence. "There was this one guy who (attacked) the James Cameron movie, and the main base of his attack was that Cameron had the wrong lights lit in the hull. Well, I mean, hello? "We've tried to be as accurate as we can, but I have absolutely no doubt there will be people who come out and say, 'Oh, the Gatti restaurant was this colour,' or something."
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Race to survive: a scene from ITV mini-series Titanic
Titanic...the cartoon THE TITANIC as a sub-Disney cartoon adventure story complete with young lovers and cute animals may seem like a recipe for a disaster in itself and, indeed, this Italian version called, Titanic: La legenda Continua, a title which has no need of a translation, resides at a perfectly respectable number 1 on the IMbd 100
worst films list. The plot need not detain us, other than to say that the main drivers of the story are a bunch of Yiddish mice, and the iceberg comes along just in time to separate those deserving of survival from those who do the decent thing. You'll be delighted to know that all the cute animals escape in packing cases.
TOUGH TIMREDS AT THE YA
it had to be Wolff yard, as the Harland & at keeping the ict of str s ay as w w the DISCIPLINE ables. One of et tim n io timekeeping ct nstru using wooden to maintain co hedule was by sc with a workon d rs pe m ke or sta as skilled shipw each board w e: pl sim to individual as w stem fice issued them boards. The sy alled Time Of -c when the so ed e rn th tu d re an en er's number e board was th Th . on calculated be ck to e clo correct wages workers as th line of is allowed the Th ng f. lo of a , ed es ck fic Of worked clo f in the Time af St of k. rd or co w re y's pt a careful ed for each da importance, ke ds its ar g bo in e ow Th sh d. buildings s he worke and the hour n end up each employee ction and ofte au at s m su nt ce de h tc ulkers fe ca e w no s of th of descendant ey th in the hands e in ut ro se daily or riveters who marked.
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CREATIVE MOVIE MISTAKES
IMPROVISATION can improve on a script as James Cameron found when directing his 1997 epic, Titanic. Leonardo Di Caprio came out with this immortal line, plus Freudian slip, when preparing to draw Rose (Kate Winslet) in the famous portrait scene, "Lie on that bed, uh, couch." The original line was "Lie on that couch." but Cameron liked Di Caprio's mistake so much, with its Freudian slip, that he kept it in. Also did you know the hands seen sketching in the same scene were those of director James Cameron. ■
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Palpable sense of class enmity REACTION to the desperation of those trying to escape by any means possible showed the class-based prejudices of the time. Though Walter Lord, in his book A Night to Remember' concluded that there was no overall policy to hold back third class passengers, given the relative positions of each
class in the event of an emergency, there didn't need to be. When at last some of the steerage passengers did break free from the lower decks, they were predictably characterised as an angry mob, to quote Sir Archibald Gracie "there arose before us from the
decks below, a mass of humanity several lines deep, facing us, and completely blocking our passage towards the stern" . The sense of class enmity is palpable. ■
WAS CAPTAIN SMITH TIRED & EMOTIONAL?
ACCORDING to a previously unseen letter by disaster survivor, Emily Richards, allegedly written on rescue ship the Carpathia two days after the sinking, on the night of the collision Titanic captain Edward Smith was down "in the saloon bar drinking and gave charge to someone else to stare (steer) the ship. It was the captains fault". The unchecked spelling adds to the emotional impact of the story but it remains uncorroborated and the Belfast Titanic Society have cast doubt on the allegation. As spokesperson Una Reilly commented:"'I have bever heard this accusation made before". ■
FILM PRODUCER WITH A DAY TO REMEMBER
ONE of the bonuses the makers of the 1958 Titanic film, A Night to Remember, enjoyed which Titanic director James Cameron did not, was a living link to the actual ship. William MacQuitty, Belfast-born producer, didn't only come from Titanic's home town, he remembered having seen the launching of the great ship as a six-year-old. MacQuitty was the son of the managing director of the Belfast Telegraph, and was educated at Campbell College. Working in international banking, he had several Middle East postings and was a founder member of the Lahore flying club. He intended to go into psychoanalysis but a film he made on Ulster farming for the Ministry of Information led to a career in the media. He was apprenticed to filmmaker Sydney Box and made many quintessential British films in the '40s, including Above us the Waves with John Mills, apparently Winston Churchill's favourite film about the disabling of the German battleship Tirpitz. In 1958, he produced the Titanic film, helped by survivors including Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall. One of its stars was Belfast actor Joe Tomelty. Cameron said the film had produced a "ripple effect on culture". Later on, MacQuitty helped found Ulster Television. ■
P BOTTOMS U ON BOARD
cktail erican-style co lacked an Am lounge ss cla THE TITANIC st fir e Th sh-style pub. on of spirits bar or a Briti for the provisi ry nt pa r uo f the beatof had a liq t ha ew at it was som th ct fa e nsumpth t e bu d that th co aps suggeste someen be en track perh ve ha g liquor may f shut el its tion of stron lounge d upon. The er, any ev what frowne w Ho . m ble 11.30p at a respecta ould be com erate need w sp de in rs uld be tope co e oz bo ow that forted to kn blic rooms ost of the pu ordered in m were first ey th as ng lo on board, as se. ■ class, of cour
OFTEN the most ordinary things bring home the true nature of a tragedy. A second class brochure, available only via the White Star Line's Paris offices, was rescued from destruction by one Mme Larouche. It was a 32 page document. Some copies of the official brochure, issued by White Star Lines in 1911, and decorated with opulent illustrations of the balustraded grand staircase, the verandah cafe with colonial rattan armchairs, are known to exist in private collections. An example of the postcard -sized booklet is coming up for auction soon and is expected to raise at least £15,000.
100 TITANIC TALES About to leave: a lifeboat scene from ITV’s Titanic mini-series
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E F I L T N A POIGN G NEWSBOY OF YOUN ONE of the most telling images linked to the Titanic disaster shows a young newsboy standing with an Evening News poster, declaiming Titanic Disaster: Great Loss of Life, outside the White Star Line London office in Oceanic House, Cockspur Street in Westminster. That boy was Ned Parfett whose short life and premature death reveal an individual tale just as poignant as that of the victims whose fate his poster outlines. Six and a half years after this famous photograph was taken, Ned was killed during a German bombardment while serving with the British army in France, just days before the Armistice. He was 22. According to his great nephew Dominic Walsh, Ned enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1916, first serving as a despatch rider before moving to reconnaissance duties. Youth did not prevent bravery and Ned was mentioned in dispatches.
The heroic James Farrell
THERE were a significant Irish contingent on board the Titanic, mainly made up of passengers travelling in steerage. One who became a folk hero in the disaster was 40-year-old James Farrell from Clonee, Co Longford. Early on, James showed his gallantry by helping some young Irish women gain their escape route. Katie Gilnagh told noted Titanic author Walter Lord that she and her friends Kate Mullins and Kate Murphy were barred from exit by seamen manning a barrier. She remembered Mr Farrell, a strapping man from their home county, shouting "Great God, man! Open the gate and let the girls through." Perhaps surprised by his robust reaction, they did, and the girls reached a lifeboat and survived. Later, Katie wrote to her father about her escape and said that James, as a parting touch, gave her his cap to cover her head and shouted "Goodbye for ever". The story of the thrown cap has passed into Longford legend, and Katie Gilnagh kept it for many years. When James Farrell's body was found, identified as having "Hair dark, moustache light.", he was discovered to be still clutching his rosary beads. ■
And so to bed... AS ONE character put it in A Night to Remember, "It is not only in her size but in the luxury of her appointments that the Titanic takes first place amongst the large steamers of the world, with the provision of Otto Vinolia toilet soap … for the first class passengers only, mark you, the rest don’t wash!” The sleeping quarters on the Titanic ranged
from utterly luxurious state rooms in first class to four berths to a cabin the the couchette-like steerage sleeping accommodation. The pictures of the first class sleeping arrangements show fine linen, plumped up pillows that wouldn't look out of place in any 5star hotel today, tables and chairs and the best furniture design of the day by companies such
as Dutch outfit HP Mutters and Zoon. Comfort and style were paramount and for your money, you got walnut bed ends, day beds or sofas, beautiful tables, a fabulous en suite bathroom and chairs and candlesticks. In steerage, the beds look somewhat less comfy and apparently there were only two baths serving the 700 passengers in steerage. ■
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WHY SENATOR WAS OBJECT OF RIDICULE
SENATOR William Alden Smith was neither a passenger nor a crew member aboard Titanic but the fact that this enthusiastic Republican held a rigorous inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic made him an object of ridicule the other side of the Atlantic. “Asinine American” was one of the milder nicknames he gathered in the UK press. He was thought to have asked foolish questions, and been impertinent in trying to scapegoat J Bruce Ismay – who was being criticised everywhere – but he was also a tireless investigator determined to salvage the truth from a chaotic and complicated picture. ■
BELFAST’S GUARDIANS OF SHIP
NOW numbering 250 members, the Belfast Titanic Society was founded in the 1970s with the express aim of ensuring that the Titanic story would be “protected and told correctly”, in the words of Titanic descendant and treasurer, Susie Millar. Members meet once a month and are keen that the White Star legacy, involving their other ships and not just the Titanic, is looked after. Society members have helped with the restoration of the Nomadic. The Society has members in Switzerland, the US and Germany, some of whom come over once a year to attend meetings, and a couple of local Titanic Society members, who are getting married this year, are having a blessing on the Titanic Memorial Cruise which will visit the site when the ship sank on the date it happened. ■
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Andrews persuaded Mary to board lifeboat
A touch of soft soap... and Titanic hit the water
MARY Sloan, who was born here in 1884 and living in Kerrsland Terrace, Belfast in 1912, was one of the 20 stewardesses on board the Titanic, who were almost all assigned to first class and summoned by a system of electric bells. They performed all sorts of tasks, from housekeeping and room service duties to more personal services for "their" ladies, although many of the female passengers in first class also had their own maids on board, whom they no doubt kept busy, too. After the collision, Mary saw Dr O'Loughlin and he confided in her, saying "Child, things are very bad". She also met Thomas Andrews who advised her "It is very serious, but keep the bad news quiet, for fear of panic". Mary Sloan was standing by one of the lifeboats which was being filled when Thomas Andrews recognised her and asked why she was still there. She replied: "All my friends are staying behind. It would be mean to go." Andrews said: "It would be mean for you not to go. You must get in." Miss Sloan finally assented and was aboard the boat when it left the ship. ■
THEY SURVIVED, THEN TOOK OWN LIVES
EIGHT of the approximately 705 people who survived the sinking of the Titanic committed suicide, making the odds of somebody surviving the disaster, then deciding to end it all one in 89. The stories are very moving. On October 10, 1912, Mrs Annie Robinson, a stewardess on the Titanic, became agitated when the Devonian steamship came into heavy fog in Boston Harbour and the fog horn sounded. She threw herself from the ship and drowned. When Dr Henry William Frauenthal, an American of German descent, jumped into the lifeboat, his weight broke the ribs of a woman beneath him. On March 11, 1927, the doctor jumped from the seventh floor of his hospital building and his wife, Clara, spent the last 16 years of her life in a psychiatric facility. Liverpudlian Frederick Fleet was the lookout on the Titanic who first spotted the iceberg. He always claimed that if he’d had binoculars that night, the collision would have been avoided. After his wife died in 1964, Fleet was evicted from his home by his brother-in-law. On January 10, 1965, the despondent Fleet hung himself on a clothes line in the garden. ■
Votes (or boats) for women
THE TITANIC with its disproportionate loss of male life among the passengers – 72% of the women on board survived, 19% of the men – stimulated the ongoing early 20th century debate about the women’s franchise. The votes for women battle cry seemed to sit uncomfortably next to the notion of “women and children first” which had mostly governed the evacuation of the great vessel. But as survivor “unsinkable” Molly Brown,
said: “Women should have equal rights on land, why not on sea?” and maintained, bristling, that the gentle sex shouldn’t have had priority. A male columnist in the St Louis Despatch, who felt women were trying to have it both ways, wrote acidly: “(If a woman begins talking about women’s rights), she should be answered with the word Titanic, nothing more - just Titanic”. ■
100 TITANIC TALES THE THOMPSON Dry Dock, in Belfast, where Titanic was fitted out, was the last place she rested on dry ground. Built to accommodate the Titanic and her sister ships in the White Star Line portfolio, the dock took seven years to build and at almost 900ft long the Titanic just fitted in. On May 31, 1911, after an inspection by Thomas Andrews and Lord Pirrie, the Titanic was launched into the Irish Sea from slip number 3 within the dry dock. To a chorus of sirens and hooters, thousands
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of people watched from special grandstands and any vantage point they could find. Her launch ramp was lubricated with railroad grease and 23 tons of tallow and soft soap, the detonators were fired and Titanic was in the water 62 seconds later. Still more or less a turbine-powered keel, she would need a lot more work before becoming the finished article. ■
THE LOSSART OF HENRY H
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Ticket to nowhere
Two men from one Belfast street who survived
STATISTICALLY off the graph, one street in Belfast, Thorndyke Street provided the names of not one but two survivors of the Titanic. Thorndyke resident Bristol-born William Murdoch, a fireman, married to Catherine and the father of three children, was living at no 78 before he signed on for the Titanic's delivery trip to Southampton, then on for the main voyage, and was rescued in one of the lifeboats. John Graffen (36), also a fireman and a near neighbour of Murdoch's at no 49, was among the survivors too. ■
A BEAUTIFULLY designed Titanic poster, referring to passages that would never happen, appeared in New York as advance advertising. Listing the charms of The Queen of the Ocean, described as the “latest addition to the White Star Fleet”, the admen are clearly targeting the budget traveller. A photo of a third class four berth bedroom is shown, also a third class dining saloon, and potential customers are reassured that all passengers will be “berthed in closed rooms containing 2, 4 or 6 berths, a large number equipped with washstands etc”. And the cost of the journey that never happened? Singles from New York to Plymouth, Southampton, London, Liverpool and Glasgow cost $36.25. ■
No ifs, no Butts, the Major was a hero ONE of the heroes of the night of April 14-15, Major Butt is often described as a stereotypical Southern gentleman and worked for President Rossevelt, then President Taft. Caught in an invidious position when Roosevelt was contemplating standing against Taft, by now generally unpopular but a friend of Mr Butt, the major decided he’d take a trip to Europe. He returned on the Titanic, favouring the Cafe de Paris as a place to people watch. But when disaster struck, Major Butt showed the qualities that made him an invaluable White House aide. Survivor Mrs Harris said afterwards: “But oh, this whole world should rise in praise of Major Butt.
The man's conduct will remain in my memory forever; he showed some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear that came when we had to be huddled into those boats...When the order to take to the boats came he became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House Reception, so cool and calm was he.” Major Butt died that night, his remains were never recovered and President Taft, the chief speaker at his funeral and visibly affected, said: ‘If Archie could have selected a time to die he would have chosen the one God gave him.’” ■
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Grandad's last journey
FRANK Dwan was aged 67, sported a distinctive patriarchal beard (which can be seen in The Cork Examiner photo of Titanic passengers being ferried to the ship by tender at Cobh) and was enticed by his children to visit them in America. He and his wife, Bridget, who stayed at home, had eight children of whom four survived and all of them had emigrated to America in the hope of finding prosperity. At that time, the Dwans were working as orderlies and porters at the Morris Plains Insane Asylum, New Jersey. Two sons later became chauffeurs with the Rockefeller family. Frank was a fisherman who loved the sea and was looking forward to his journey to the New World. There's evidence he had a premonition the night before sailing and talked of the possibility of the liner sinking to fellow passengers. Although he was offered another passage the next day, he decided to board the Titanic, partly because, as he told the lodging housekeeper the night before the voyage, "every hour is too long before I see my children". He's commemorated by a plaque and sculpted portrait in Saleem Church in his birthplace, Bunmahon. ■
MARCH 21 2012
Titanic and Olympic ... so big they just couldn’t get over them SIZE was definitely important when it came to advertising the new Titanic liner. One ad for the White Star's new Leviathans had an ingenious way of demonstrating that the Titanic – and its sister ship
the Olympic – not only measured up to the wonders of the modern world but surpassed them. A drawing of the upended boats is seen to be longer than eight other man-made giants including the Washington Monument, St Peter's Church in Rome and the Grand Pyramid of Gizeh (sic), Africa. Or as the headline has it, Surpassing the Greatest Buildings and Memorials of Earth. ■
Jack Johnson and that racism rumour TO the undoubted element of class prejudice another myth had grown up around the Titanic, that of racism. It was rumoured that the black world heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, had been denied passage on the Titanic because of the colour of his skin. Given what we know of early 20th century racial atitudes, the charge has a plausibility, were it not for the fact that on the night of the disaster Johnson was in Chicago, having returned to America as a first class passenger on the White Star Liner Celtic. Several songs and folk poems grew up claiming the disaster as divine retribution for this slur, and the blues singer Leadbelly claimed that 'the Titanic' was the first song he learned to play with the line "Jack Johnson he wanted to get on board, captain he say we ain't haulin' no coal". ■
TER UNDERWAN SYMPHO Y
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100 TITANIC TALES
MARCH 21 2012
E G A R E E T IN S
A STATEMENT made by a member of the Titanic crew confirmed that 50 or more steerage passengers were condemned to their fate once the airtight compartment doors were closed on their deck. They had their escape route cut off when the doors in the steerage deck, forward of mid-
ships, were closed to protect the first and second class passengers on the upper decks. As the crewman said, to have opened the doors imprisoning these passengers would have shortened the life of the ship.
SURVIVAL WAS ON THE CARDS
ELSIE Doling, an 18-year-old from Southampton can be seen on a picture postcard marked Survivor of the Titanic, looking serenely at the camera. She became involved in the great tragedy while accompanying her sisterin-law Ada Doling on a trip to visit her mother in America. They travelled second class and were photographed during the stop at Queenstown walking on deck in the company of Edwin C (Fred) Wheeler, personal valet to George Washington Vanderbilt (who wasn't a passenger). Both Elsie and Ada survived, although Fred was lost. Once on board the Carpathia, the two young women tried to cable the news of their survival via a Marconigram to Southampton saying 'Ada Elsie safe'. The heavy workload of the Marconi operators meant it was never sent. Elsie lived until 1972. ■
ONLY WOMAN RESCUED FROM WATER
No escape: a dramatic scene from ITV’s mini series about Titanic
Life of drama RENEE Harris, who was travelling on the Titanic with her husband Harry, a successful Broadway producer, had fallen during the day in April 14 and after having had her arm set, went to bed early. She got onto a lifeboat, Harry did not and when Dr Frauenthal attended to her on board the Carpathia, explaining how he’d escaped, she retorted briskly: “I wouldn’t have my husband back at the expense of a woman’s life.” Once in New York, Renee was met by family and later realised she blanked out what was happening for the next two months, although she had attended a memorial service for her husband at his theatre, the Hudson, on 44th Street. She immersed herself in the theatre business and had three further marriages, although she said: “I have had four marriages – but only one husband.” She spent money on a yacht, an apartment on Park Avenue and various homes, but lost her fortune in the Depression. She ended her life in reduced circumstances, having fallen out with Lucile Duff Gordon over the latter’s portrayal of American women who lost their husbands as unfeeling. ■
When stars came out AS PART of the international effort to raise funds for Titanic's survivors, a stellar fundraising event was held on May 14, 1912, at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. Among the performers who
took to the stage to help were the original celebrity French actress Sarah Bernhardt, actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree and the world famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The event raised thousands of pounds and Thomas Hardy's critical poetic take on the event, The Convergence of the Twain, was published in the programme. ■
ROSA Abbott did not actually exist. However, an American lady called Rhoda Abbott was pulled from the icy waters of the Atlantic that night, the only woman known to have survived their Arctic fierceness. She is, indeed, listed on the Titanic's passenger list as Rosa, but on every other official document in her life, from birth, through her two marriages, to eventually her death certificate, and even on her passport, she is named as Rhoda Abbott. Perhaps the confusion of identity caused, one must assume, by her true name being misheard helped her deal with the anguish the event caused her for the rest of her life. She lost her two sons in the disaster and was plagued by loneliness and mental illness to her death far from home in London in 1946. ■
SEA CHANGE IN CROSSING TIMES
THE LENGTH of the Atlantic crossing by boat decreased as the 20th century approached. The first ship to cross the Atlantic by steam power alone was the Sirius, in 1838, taking 18 days to make the journey. However, early iron steamships were inefficient and the next 50 years saw the last flowering of ocean-going sailing vessels. But the invention of the steam turbine in 1884 and production of cheap steel enabled steam to overtake sail at last. In the 1900s a new design of vessel, the 'liner' appeared. They were much bigger and faster, with more carrying capacity. The Mauretania crossed the Atlantic in less than five days in 1907. More space meant more room for passengers to travel in luxury and, until air travel superseded them in the 1950s, the Atlantic liner was the last word in comfortable, speedy travel. ■
22 100 TITANIC TALES
ARTIE’S SMOKE SCREEN
SOMETIMES the Titanic gives up its wonders in tiny form. According to Ian Frost, grandson of one of the local victims, Artie Frost, when it was rumoured that a clay pipe had been picked up from the wreckage. He remembers that one of his aunts said: “That could have been Artie's pipe.” “I didn't even know that he smoked,” was the grandson's reaction. Another mystery solved, or just another legend born? ■
LINK TO THOSE 101 DALMATIONS
MARCH 21 2012
S T O O B E THES E D A M E WER FOR... G N I R E T CLAT
OF the many accounts of the Titanic story, one of the best is Lawrence Beesley's I Survived the Titanic. Beesley was a science teacher who boarded the ship, survived by boarding lifeboat number 14 and managed to pen a thoughtful account of what went wrong. Beesley had quite a colourful private life, being a Christian Scientist healer or practitioner, marrying twice, the first time while still a Cambridge undergraduate. He and his young wife, Gertrude, had a son, Alec, who married Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmatians and I Capture the Castle. ■
HAS WRECK BEEN RAIDED BY PIRATES?
TITANIC is so far beneath the surface of the water that it seems absurd to think that artefacts from the ship could have been pirated away, yet this is what is feared to have happened through the use of submarines, according Dr Robert Ballard, the original discoverer of the wreck. He is opposed to anything being taken from the site. There is one company however that is legally allowed to 'salvage' objects, The RMS Titanic which owns the Artefacts exhibit, based in Wiinipeg, Las Vegas, and other locations. ■
PRIME MINISTER OF NI’S BID TO HALT RADIO PLAY
WHEN the BBC prepared to broadcast a controversial radio play by Gordon Glover, featured in the Sensations series (about the 50 biggest sensations since 1900), and dealing in fictionalised form with the sinking of the Titanic there was an uproar. Basil Brooke (Viscount Brookeborough), then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, sent a telegram to Lord Inman, chairman of the BBC. On behalf of Harland & Wolff, he urged that the broadcast be halted so as not to jeopardise the launch of their new Cunard liner. It was rewritten and finally presented in documentary form. ■
THREE thousand men laboured for two years to produce the Titanic, the jewel in the White Star Line’s crown. Memories of this vital workforce, who occupied part of the massive site in Belfast, include hearing the sound of the men’s hobnailed boots “like an army” clatter over the cobbled streets towards the docks in the early morning. There were clubs and pubs that the yardmen
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Time’s toll on artefacts AMONG the artefacts that have been known to have been brought up from the wreckage, especially from the luggage of the passengers, have been clothes, jewels, and expensive perfume. It's often difficult to identify their ownership, as the water has wiped names from the luggage. This was the case with a recent find of money, still in good condition in what was thought to have been a doctor's bag. One or two have been identified, including a pocket watch (right) that belonged to a steward, Sidney Sedunary. ■
100 TITANIC TALES
MARCH 21 2012
Man behind the opulence THE OPULENT interior decor on board the Titanic came about thanks to the most talented designers of the period, among them architect Arthur Henry Durand (1875-1958). Durand studied architecture in Brussels, then moving to Paris where he
took part in the design of the Eiffel Tower. For this he gained official recognition from the then President of the French Republic, Monsieur Sadi Carnot. In 1897 Durand came to London where he was
employed by a top decorating firm and would began his architecture practice in 1903. Durand’s work had been seen in White Star Line vessels as well as the P&O's Mongolia. ■
That’s rich: a woman positions a plate in a recreation of a first class cabin on Titanic in a display of artefacts in London
regarded as their own, also churches like Westbourne Presbyterian Community Church situated at the bottom of the Newtownards Road, Belfast, where it was built in 1880. Nicknamed the “shipman’s church”, the church was the spiritual centre of the many yardmen living in the street nearby. ■
TAKE A BOW... FOR MAJESTY IT IS inevitable that at some point the Titanic will merge into the seabed to become its own coral reef, but recent pictures of the wreck show that corrosion has not taken hold as quickly as might have been thought. New pictures and videos taken by two very intrepid robot cameras to mark the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the wreck show clearly the famous bow complete with encrusted railings remains intact, an eerie, yet majestic sight. ■
This and 6,000 more historic images for you to view and buy at www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/postcards
Published on Mar 21, 2012
Another 100 facinating stories about maritime's infamous disaster. Published by and given away free with the Belfast Telegraph as part of t...