Builders Model of Titanic


Dec 23, 2004
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I'v seen several photographs, one of an 18' model at the back of Harland & Wolff's Drawing Office in Belfast, the well known "Britannic" model complete with gantry davits and photo of an earlier model of Olympic.

Do any of these models still exist? I presume the model at Liverpool Maritime Museum is the Britannic one altered to look like Olympic but labelled as Titanic as it is not completely accurate for any of the three sisters in its current form.
 
Dec 23, 2004
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I now have the answers to the model question - it's all told in Peter Davies Garner's new book!

Fully recommended for any Titanic Buff modeller or not!
 
Dec 23, 2004
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The Builders model was lent to Rank during the filming of "A Night to Remember". Have you noticed that on the model in the film the funnels look too tall? Was this due to the fact that the filmset model used in the tank was based on the original model, although photos of this model as Britannic look as if the funnel height has been corrected. The funnels were too tall on the Builders model as built! Any Comments? Incidentally, the two daylight shots of the ship under way came from the German film made in WWII.
 

Bob Read

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Dec 9, 2000
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I hate to throw a monkey wrench into the works but here is some information that I don't think anyone has fully accounted for. If you look at the supposed Titanic builders model of Titanic the A and B deck windows are clearly of the Britannic type and arrangement. In the seventies a model was found in a crate at the Liverpool airport. The Merseyside County Museums commissioned a Mr. Nelson-Ewen to restore the model. It was their opinion that this was the lost Titanic builders model. I am providing a link to a photo of the nearly completed restoration of this model in the late seventies. This was well after the 1957 use of another builders model for "A Night to Remember".
If you look at the photo you can see that the
A and B deck windows are not unmodified Britannic windows but are accurate reproductions of Titanic's windows.
All of this begs the question: What happened to this accurate restoration of what may actually have been the Titanic builder's model?

http://webpages.charter.net/bpread/photos/build.jpg

Regards,
Bob Read
 
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Dec 23, 2004
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Firstly I must say right away that there never was a builders model of Titanic. The model started life as Olympic and was altered to Britannic. After WW1 the model was again altered to be Olympic, i.e. the gantry davits were removed and other details changed but in essence the model finished up as an amalgam of the three ships. When the model was discovered and subsequently restored it was named Titanic although it cannot be said to be an accurate representation. For a fuller account of the builders model see Peter Davies Garner's book on Modelling the Titanic.
At the time the model was lent to Rank it was in a hybrid state.
 
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Bob Read

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Allan:

It seems as if you have your mind made up so I don't know if any more discussion will be persuasive.

Here are a few points for you to consider and questions that maybe you can answer:

1. If you look at the amalgamated "builders model" of Titanic as it now exists in the Merseyside Museum it still retains the A and B deck Britannic style windows which were there in 1957 at the time of the filming of "A Night to Remember".

2. Twenty years later, what I believe was a different model which had Olympic crudely lettered on the bow was discovered in storage and in poor condition at the Liverpool Airport.

3. This model was restored as I indicated by a Mr. Nelson-Ewen. The image I provided clearly shows that there are no Britannic type windows on A and B decks in this model.

To believe that this model in the image and the one currently on display at the Merseyside Museum
are the same model, you would have to believe that the correct Titanic A and B deck windows were altered to a Britannic style after the late seventies. To believe this seems preposterous.

Since it is clear that these are two different models, what happened to this more accurate Titanic model?

I am not presenting any of this evidence as some novel new theory. The entire story of this particular model was covered in an article in the Spring 1980 issue of the Titanic Commutator.

While I respect Mr. Davies-Garner's views on a number of subjects, I believe he was unaware of this second builders model. What ship it started out to represent, I do not know. Where it ended up, I also do not know. It was supposedly commissioned for restoration by the Merseyside County Museum but clearly the model in the image link and the one currently at the Merseyside Museum are not the same models.

Also, what evidence do you have that the Britannic builders model was merely a modification of the Olympic builders model?

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Dec 23, 2004
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There may well be a second model but is it a builders model? It is well known that Bassett Lowke of Northampton built models of many of the famous liners. The lineage of the model under restoration in the photograph may be from another source than Harland & Wolff? Anybody out there know more?
 

Bob Read

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Allan:

It was the opinion of the Museum officials that this model had been exhibited at London's Crystal palace until 1939. They speculate that it and other valuable art treasures were stored in slate quarry galleries in North Wales for the duration of the WWII. How it ended up at the Liverpool airport in a crate is speculation. The real question is that if the museum commissioned an expensive restoration of this model, what happened to it?
 
Dec 23, 2004
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Interesting. A look at the H&W Builders model will show you that the model is supported on keel blocks as if it were in dry dock and the two photos I have seen of it a) as Olympic and b) as Britannic show the same display case. The model in question here is mounted on turned brass pillars which was a common feature of display models. Where did this model originate? I wonder if the Bassett Lowke archives which I think are with Northampton Museum may assist as if anybody was to build a quarter inch model of the ship it would be them. I cannot see a model originating with White Star surviving with them after the sinking. Then of course there was the model at the back of the drawing office at H&W seen in some views. We need dates for this.
 

Bob Read

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The problem I see with your theory about the model in the image being made by Bassett Lowke is
that if the Merseyside Museum already had a builders model (pick any date you want), why would they commission an expensive restoration of a second model. For me it doesn't make sense.
I'm attaching an image which shows the original
Olympic/Titanic builders model in the drawing offices at H&W and a closer image of the model.
The chain of posession of either or both of these models would be a major research project in itself. I don't think the explanations that have been given so far are based on solid investigatory procedures.

http://webpages.charter.net/bpread/photos/buildmod.jpg

Regards
Bob Read
 
Dec 23, 2004
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I've just located a photo of H&Ws drawing office which shows the Olympic Model and I am sure it is the half model to 1/48 scale which is there and not the full builders model. See the small vessel mounted to the upper left of the board for comparison which also appears in other photos of the half model. Are the two photographs Bob Read shows of the same model?
 
Dec 23, 2004
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There is a photo of H&Ws drawing office in The Wonder Book of Ships, if you compare the model in this with the pictures in the Davies Garner book you'll see that the model is the half one!

I'll try and scan the photo from the book but it is an old letterpress production and won't come up well.
 

Bob Read

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Dec 9, 2000
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Allan:

Let's get down to the basic problem in discussing these models: I have not seen any original written source material regarding these models. Peter Davies-Garner's book gives many details. Where did they come from? There are no footnotes or bibliography for the builders models chapter. It would be reasonable then to assume that the material presented there is totally Peter's conjecture. How can one verify what he presented without source citations.

You state that the model in the Drawing Room at
Harland and Wolff is a half model. How can you prove that?

This is going to be my last post on this subject because since there is no source material cited
how can one separate conjecture from fact? The answer is you can't. I presented a photo from an article in the THS Commutator to try to at least suggest that the model at the Merseyside Museum was not the one in the Commutator photo.
At least that part can't be disputed. The photo evidence is clear.

What you believe or don't believe about these models no longer holds any interest for me unless someone comes up with some top notch investigative research that can be independently verified.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Dec 23, 2004
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I would remind everyone - as a publisher myself, that reproduction of copyright material, including photos, without permission, is not on. With regard to the Titanic Models, there is photographic evidence, and as far as I am concerned a photo = 1000 words. But this obviously is not enough for the members of the SSF society. Unfortunately there is little written about the Titanic models so we have to rely on photographic evidence. If you want to find out what SSF stands for then email me on my own site at [email protected] Get a life BR!
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Sounds like a little axe grinding may be in the offing here. Gentlemen, let's nip this one in the bud befor the heat get's to high with cryptic references to SSF societies and admonishments to "Get A Life." In other words, keep the debate focus on the message, not the messenger, and keep it civil.

Thank you all in advance for your co-operation.
 

Bob Read

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Dec 9, 2000
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Michael:

I agree wholeheartedly. I was merely making the point that when we run out of solid reference material on a subject, all we are left with is speculation. That was the point at which I chose to bow out because the discussion seeemed to be heating up and I never really figured out why. Anyway, I put my two cents into the discussion and now I'm done.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I agree wholeheartedly. I was merely making the point that when we run out of solid reference material on a subject, all we are left with is speculation.<<

I'm not disagreeing with that either. In discussions of topics of historical interest and research, inquiries as to sources are fair game. I'm also mindful of the fact that this particular matter is a sore spot with some and that there are some personalty conflicts involved. All I'm asking from any and all interested parties is that any such conflicts be kept out of this forum.
 
Apr 21, 2003
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"It would be reasonable then to assume that the material presented there is totally Peter's conjecture." HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT BOB READ! The information about the builders models in my book was from a very long letter I received from Kenneth Anderson in the early 90s.

"How can one verify what he presented without source citations." I can, but I don't have to. If space had permitted me to do so, I would have.
The majority of books about the Titanic don't have "source citations". Does this mean they are all based on pure speculation?
 
Dec 23, 2004
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Thank you Peter - it would seem that there is always a danger that folks can get carried away with their interests but what it really boils down to is trust. Anybody who is capable of building a model like yours must know the ship inside out and can therefore identify detail on any other models.
 

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