Californian A Dundee Story


Jun 19, 2006
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Hello all

I thought I would make my first proper post an interesting one. I'm currently researching the Californian for a talk I'm giving in February. As I come from Dundee in Scotland - where the Californian was built in 1901 by the Caledon shipyard - I have been looking through newspaper reports for any information. A great story came to light about the Californian's boilers. The Caledon shipyard on the banks of the river Tay had its Foundary (Lilybank Foundary) some distance from the yard and this meant that when the boilers all 85tons of them had to be moved it was a major operation. WB Thomson of Caledon came up with the solution of loading them up on to 20 ton bogies and taking them by the roads down to the dock. There was just one problem - the town council were not so keen - rightly as it turned out. When the boilers were moved at the end of November 1901 (shortly after her launch) one of them caused a large crater to appear in a main street and became stuck. They were moved at night and thousands of people came out to watch. The journey of the boilers caused tram wires to be lifted out, water mains to be damaged and in the end the shipyard faced a bill for the damage that came to £670 (about £40,000 in today's money.)

In the local papers the controversy was quite interesting especially since the Californian was the largest ship built on the east coast of Scotland at that time.

i've also managed to find two photographs of the Californian - one of when it was being built and one of it prior to it leaving on its first voyage. They are courtesy of Dundee City Archives who have managed to get a the design plans of Californian back from their owner. I also got a photocopy of the layout of the Californian they hold.

Hope this is of interest.
Debbie
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Hope this is of interest.<<

It is.

In fact, if you have the required permissions if any are needed, I hope you'll consider posting or contributing that information or the photos right here. You might also consider writing an article about this for inclusion in the ET Research section.
 
T

Timothy Trower

Guest
This is fascinating research. I'll second what Michael has posted and encourage you to write this up for ET.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
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Dec 29, 2000
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Sounds like great stuff, Debbie. Local newspapers can be such a wonderful source of long-unearthed information.
 
Jun 19, 2006
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Hi all

Many thanks for the comments. I would really like to post a copy of my talk when I have finished. As I work for Dundee City Council in its local museum and so is the Archives department I will get in contact with the Chief Archivist about getting permission to put copies of the photographs and plans on the site.

Debbie
 

Dave Moran

Member
Apr 23, 2002
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Dear Debbie

Where are you giving your talk ?

I ask because by one of those incredible coincidences I work for the Assessor's Department in Dundee and if it's a talk the public can attend I would love to.

Well done for finding that info, by the way.

warmest regards

dave
 
Jun 19, 2006
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Hi Dave

Its a small world - I work for Dundee City Council's museum and Art Gallery based at the old Barrack Street Museum just now.

The talk is part of the Abertay Historical Society Series. Its on Wednesday 7 February from 6pm onwards at Discovery point. the talk is called The Californian: A Dundee-built scapegoat in the Titanic disaster. I'm basically going to talk about the building of the ship, the Californian's actions on the night of the disaster and if there is time a bit about the controversy - although I think this will be very basic indeed. I am also teaching an evening class on the Titanic called The Titanic - Myth and Reality for Dundee University's continuing education department.

Hope to meet you on the 7th February.

Regards
Debbie
 

Dave Moran

Member
Apr 23, 2002
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Cool. I park at Discovery Quay and usually finish at 6pm so that'll be perfect.

We visited your place of employment last summer, following the instilation of the racking - it was a fascinating place, I particularly remember the Kayak. So I envy you your job.

Y'know, it's funny but when I was wandering round Borders just before Christmas I looked at that mural of the ship-building yard that they have on the wall at the back and I thought at the time that the ship on the stocks looked like "Californian ". I dismissed it from my mind with a " Nahhhh..." - but next time I'm in I'll look closer.

Abertay Historical Society ? Hmmm...tell me more...

warmest regards

dave
 
Apr 1, 2005
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hi Deborah,
interesting research, i note from my records that there are the following records held by the scottish records office........dundee, list of ships built 1875-1976;minutes and annual balance sheets 1896-1948; hull and engine drawings[c3500] 1876-1967. specifications and technical data 1872-1971; photographs[ships machinery,personel] c 1900-75; publicity material press cuttings c 1870-1974.
dont know if you have seen these records also i think there were pictures in the wellgate local history section of the boilers being moved through dundee,hope this is of some help
malcolm
 
Jun 19, 2006
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Just to let you know - my talk went really well - got a great crowd and two pieces in the local papers - The Dundee Courier and Advertiser and The Evening Telegraph.

Just a note to Dave Moran - were you there?
Debbie
 

Dave Moran

Member
Apr 23, 2002
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Sorry Deborah,

I went to the exhibition centre and it was in darkness with bins at the front door, so I thought it had maybe been cancelled.

Drat - I went to the wrong place, didn't I ?
 

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