110 Years of Titanic

Well folks, here we are: exactly 110 years to the day that the Titanic was conceived. It was on this night, April 30, 1907 that Bruce Ismay and Lord Pirrie devised the plan to build the Titanic and her two sisters. Let us pray for and remember all those associated with the Titanic on this super-centennial of her conception. This too, was certainly "a night to remember."
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The only thing that makes any of this special is Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. The concept for these vessels is of no special significance.
But nieonline.com, titanic-nautical.com, dummies.com, and somersetcountygazette.co.uk (to name a few), all say the idea was conceived on 4/30/1907. Are you saying that's not correct?
The story of the dinner and the sketching of the ships rests on flimsy evidence. It's from the memory of a very elderly Julia Ismay, who gave it to Wilton Oldham in about 1960. It first appears, with very little detail, in his book The Ismay Line, published in 1961. That's why it's not in earlier books, such as A Night to Remember. The exact date of the dinner can not be established.
Great work from Günter, as I'd expect.
Personally, I've long thought that the driving force behind the Olympic class was Lord Pirrie. As early as 1902 he was agitating for the Thompson dry dock and thinking of very large ships.

Some make it seem that the arrival of Lusitania and Mauretania in 1907 came as a surprise to Pirrie and Ismay, but this is silly. Both ships were covered in the press and Pirrie partly owned the yard that built Lusitania. Work on the Olympic class could have started much earlier, but the dry dock building was much delayed.


Former Member
Did German shipbuilding have a role in the conception of the Olympic Class liner? I understand there was fierce competition between the German and British shipping lines and they filmed the construction of the Olympic in Belfast. I guess which ever company could gain the most prestige and attract American investors, then they would have the upper hand, especially if war between the empires was a growing concern and believed to be an inevitability, and only a matter of time before passenger ships became troop transports.

I personally think the German ships were far more beautiful.

The Imperator


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Mark Baber

I understand there was fierce competition between the German and British shipping lines.
Maybe, maybe not, at least as far as the IMM lines are concerned. Consider the following:

11 February 1902: Albert Ballin and Gustav Tietgens, Director General and
President (respectively) of Hamburg America Line (Hapag), and Dr. H. Wiegand
and George Plate, their counterparts at North German Lloyd (NDL), arrive in
New York aboard Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. Ballin denies that the German
lines intend to discuss their becoming part of IMM; instead, he states that
their sole purpose is to negotiate a freight rate agreement with American
shipping interests. (Also on board is W.H. Van den Toorn, a Director of
Holland America Line (HAL), who "got away from the pier" before he could be
asked his purpose.) In the long run, although none of these lines will
actually become part of IMM, they will all become deeply involved with
Morgan's combine, above and beyond rate agreements. In lieu of buying their
stock, IMM will guarantee Hapag and NDL a six per cent return on capital, in
exchange for 50% of the amount by which their profits exceed that amount.
Between 1903 and 1911 Hapag will pay IMM more than 1.5 million marks, but
IMM will pay NDL more than 4.5 million marks. In addition, Harland & Wolff
will acquire 51% of HAL, and then sell half of that interest to IMM and the
other half to Hapag and NDL. HAL will become Dutch-owned again in 1916;
first, it will buy back the stock owned by Hapag and NDL at very low prices,
and then its stock price will rise so high that IMM will sell its interest
in HAL at a hefty profit. (Sources: The New York Times, 12 February 1902;
Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Haws' Merchant Fleets in Profile, Vol. 4:
Hamburg America, Adler and Carr Lines; Haws' Merchant Fleets, Vol. 28:
Holland America Line.)
The competition was more a friendly one. The companies even exchange new improvements, there are letters between then discussing different stuff as for example window frames.