Calling at Queenstown vs. Plymouth

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GreatLakesGuy

Member
According to this advertisement from the New York Times, the itinerary for Olympic and Titanic's return trips to Southampton consisted of the same destinations as the voyage to New York, with one exception: both ships were to stop in Plymouth instead of Queenstown.

What was it about Plymouth that made it the preferred port of call for the two new ships' return to Europe (as opposed to stopping at Queenstown again or simply proceeding directly to Cherbourg), and why was it skipped in favor of Queenstown for the outbound journey to America?
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
both ships were to stop in Plymouth instead of Queenstown.
Could that ad have been a mistake? I was not aware of the planned Plymouth stop till now; the city is in England while Queenstown (now Cobh) is in the Irish mainland. Why would Irish passengers want to undertake an unnecessary ferry trip to Plymouth when there was a perfectly good port in their own country?

I wonder if that ad had anything to do with the fact that there was a large painting of the Plymouth Harbour hanging over the fireplace in the First Class Men's Smoking Lounge of the Titanic. On the sister ship Olympic, there was a painting called "Approach to the New World" depicting entry into the New York Harbor. Both were by marine artist Norman Wilkinson.
 
Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Member
There wasn't much trade in return passengers to Ireland, so it wasn't economically viable to stop there on Eastbound trips.

However, a quick stop at Plymouth would shave considerable journey time off for British-bound passengers (a full day?) rather than plodding to Cherbourg and then Southampton.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Ah, I see what you mean! I did not even consider the return (Eastbound) trips, probably because I had the lost Titanic in my subconscious and never considered the continued voyages. A Plymouth stop on the return trip makes a lot of sense then. As that ad was from the NYT, it was meant for American passengers.

I just discovered :)oops:) that the Olympic stopped at Plymouth on her Eastbound route and did not go to Queenstown. Then on to Cherbourg and back to Southampton. My apologies for the gaff in the previous post.

So, the Cherbourg stop on continued routes would have been to drop off Europe bound passengers from the Eastbound trip and pick-up the next batch of Westbound passengers before going to Southampton and Queenstown?
 
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Mark Baber

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Plymouth was an inbound call for Southampton-bound ships from the beginning of that service in 1907. Here's a description of the first White Star arrival there:

30 May 1907: On the return leg of her maiden voyage (see 8 May), Adriatic II makes White Star's first calls at Plymouth, Cherbourg and Southampton, as the move of the line's principal service from Liverpool to Southampton takes effect. She calls at Plymouth from about 2:30 a.m. to a little before 4, and at Cherbourg from about 10 a.m. to a little after 11, discharging mail and passengers at both ports. (Plymouth will remain an inbound-only call on the Southampton service until the beginning of World War I, while Cherbourg will be both an inbound call and and outbound one for the rest of White Star's days.) From France Adriatic heads to Southampton, arriving at 7:45 p.m., and is met off Cowes by a tender carrying the Mayor and other local officials. She then proceeds to her berth amid the firing of guns and rockets and a "great ovation [from] a great assemblage of the populace on shore." (Sources: The Times (London), 31 May 1907; The New York Times, 30 and 31 May 1907; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway.)
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Plymouth was an inbound call for Southampton-bound ships from the beginning of that service in 1907

I feel embarrassed to realize that I somehow had missed that bit of information.

So, the few returning passengers of Irish origin who wanted to explore the "old country" had to take a ferry from Plymouth to the Ireland? If so, did such trips go to Queenstown or another port?

Or would they have remained on board till the ship went to Queenstown again on the Westbound trip? I would have thought that unlikely as it would have added almost 2 days to their Eastbound journey with added costs.
 
Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Member
I feel embarrassed to realize that I somehow had missed that bit of information.

So, the few returning passengers of Irish origin who wanted to explore the "old country" had to take a ferry from Plymouth to the Ireland? If so, did such trips go to Queenstown or another port?

Or would they have remained on board till the ship went to Queenstown again on the Westbound trip? I would have thought that unlikely as it would have added almost 2 days to their Eastbound journey with added costs.
A White Star passenger disembarking at Plymouth would have a number of options to travel on to Ireland - every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am a British & Irish Steam Packet Co. ferry left Plymouth for Dublin - the journey took 36 hours.

I haven't researched it but I reckon train travel from Plymouth to Holyhead in North Wales and a ferry from there to Dublin would be quicker.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
A White Star passenger disembarking at Plymouth would have a number of options to travel on to Ireland
Would that have included remaining on board at Plymouth, Cherbourg and Southampton to get off at Queenstown on the Westbound trip? I know that not many would have wanted that longer and more expensive route but theoretically was that possible?

Cherbourg will be both an inbound call and and outbound one for the rest of White Star's days.
Therefore, apart from the Maiden Voyage, would Cherbourg have been the "turning around" point for WSL (and perhaps other lines)?
 
Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Member
Would that have included remaining on board at Plymouth, Cherbourg and Southampton to get off at Queenstown on the Westbound trip? I know that not many would have wanted that longer and more expensive route but theoretically was that possible?
I'm sure that was possible, but you would have the guts of an extra day at sea to get to Southampton, then you would have to disembark anyway. If you wanted to get to Queenstown on the same ship you would then have to stay in Southampton for 4-5 days while it was prepared to sail again.

Of course, you could get another liner en route to Queenstown but remember that Cobh as it is now is a relatively remote hub and would only be suitable for Munster bound customers or those on a grand tour like the Titanic Odells - better to get to Dublin and travel on from there I think.
 
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Mark Baber

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Ireland-bound passengers could always use White Star's Liverpool service, which contained to call at Queenstown.
Would that have included remaining on board at Plymouth, Cherbourg and Southampton to get off at Queenstown on the Westbound trip?
I've never looked into that, but I doubt it.
Therefore, apart from the Maiden Voyage, would Cherbourg have been the "turning around" point for WSL (and perhaps other lines)?
Arun, I'm not sure what you mean by the "turning around point."
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Arun, I'm not sure what you mean by the "turning around point."
I meant that if the Eastbound route was New York - Plymouth - Cherbourg - Southampton, then the Continental Europe bound passengers would disembark in Cherbourg. And then..................

Cherbourg will be both an inbound call and and outbound one for the rest of White Star's days.)
....................I assumed based on that above quote (but wrongly, I think) that the Westbound Continental passengers would then board the WSL ship while it was still at Cherbourg and being prepared for the trip West. That would have made Cherbourg the "turning around point" where the ship completed its Eastbound trip and started the Westbound one. But I think Sam Brannigan has cleared that up in........

If you wanted to get to Queenstown on the same ship you would then have to stay in Southampton for 4-5 days while it was prepared to sail again.
So, as I have now understood it, after discharging its Europe bound passengers in Cherbourg, the ship would sail to Southampton where it was prepared for the next journey and then sail back to Cherbourg as the first leg of her Westbound voyage. I think that's what you meant by Cherbourg being a port of call for both inbound and outbound trips but I did not get it the first time.
 
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Mark Baber

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So, as I have now understood it, after discharging its Europe bound passengers in Cherbourg, the ship would sail to Southampton where it was prepared for the next journey and then sail back to Cherbourg as the first leg of her Westbound voyage.
Yes, Sam's right.

Keep in mind that oceangoing vessels could not dock at Cherbourg; they had to anchor in the roadstead and be served by tenders. They were coaled, provisioned and made ready for their next trip at Southampton.
 
Stephen Carey

Stephen Carey

Member
Maybe someone else has commented, but the transatlantic trade was immigrant trade from Europe to America, so the port call at Queenstown was purely for that purpose. Not sure how they filled steerage on the way back though - I doubt there was was much emigration from US to Ireland?
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Not sure how they filled steerage on the way back though - I doubt there was was much emigration from US to Ireland?
Probably not and that's something I had never thought of before because I was so "Titanic orientated" that I seldom considered WSL and other lines' eastbound trips. As Sam Brannigan pointed out, there was not much eastbound trade between the US and Ireland in those days.

Regarding the steerage complement of eastbound crossings, my guess is that by 1912 there must have already been a very large number of European immigrants settled in the US and by the law of averages, there were probably at least a couple of hundred people in Third Class on eastbound trips returning to their "old countries" to visit family and friends. Looking at the ET bios of Third Class adults on the Titanic (both victims and survivors), I was surprised to see that many of them had already been to the US before, some even well settled, and had returned to the UK or Continental Europe before embarking on that fateful maiden voyage.

Can someone give me an idea of the number of passengers in Third Class on Eastbound trips of ships like Mauretania, Lusitania, Olympic etc?
 
Alex Clark

Alex Clark

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I have a vague memory of seeing something near the Duke of Cornwall Hotel near Millbay dock in Plymouth, a wall Mural or some such about the liners that visited Plymouth. This was a good few years ago, when I started coming to Plymouth regularly. Perhaps the hotel was used by disembarked passengers.
 
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