Coal from the Titanic


Zachary Lee

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Apr 22, 2005
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Hey, everyone! I know this may seem like a stupid question and all but I thought I'd ask it anyways. Last night I got a piece of coal from the Titanic at the Las Vegas Titanic exhibit and I have been trying to figure out where it could of been. It was recovered in the 1994 Recovery Expedition at the debris field. What I'm guessing is that it might of come from Boiler Room #1 or some other part of the bow when the ship broke in half. Or who knows it could of come from anywhere on the ship? If anyone has a guess on the whereabouts of the coal please tell me. Thanks!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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My bet would be on either Boiler Room One or one of the bunkers torn open from Boiler Room Two. Unfortunately, when that much debris gets scattered about in the wake of a breakup, there's no way of telling where it came from.
 
Aug 6, 2005
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HI , I GOT A PIECE OF COAL ALSO FROM THE TITANIC , FROM GEORGE TULLOCH, EXP. WITH A C.O.A., CAN SOMEONE TELL ME IS THERE ANY VALUE TO IT ,ITS ENCLOSED IN GLASS CASE, AND NOW WHAT IAM TRYING TO DO IS TO FIND SOMEONE TO BUILD A MODEL OF THE TITANIC AS IT APPEARS AT THE BOTTOM, IF SOMEONE CAN HELP ME WITH THIS I WOULD APPRECIATE IT..
THANK YOU VIC. TOMMASO
 

Mark Baber

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Hello, Victor---

Please do not type your messages in all caps. It's the equivalent of shouting and considered bad form.

Thanks.
 

George Huck

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Hey Zach
am surprised that there is a lot more written about where these pieces of coal came from. I too have a piece and am now printing out Orlop deck plans in order to work out as best I can where it is most likely have come from. Let me know if you have any more ideas. My piece was also recovered in 1994. Another question I have is which coal company did the white Star Line buy it s coal from and from what coalfield did it come from.
 

Zachary Lee

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Apr 22, 2005
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Can't think of anything else but am nonetheless still interested in discovering where the coal actually came from. I'm thinking that when the Titanic broke in two that the coal poured out of one of the boiler rooms. Let me know if you find out anything! I doubt this would help but I do remember reading that when the Titanic sailed there was a coal strike and there were ships that had to cancel their sailings because of the shortage of coal. Ironically some Titanic passengers transferred from such coal-less ships and onto the ill fated Titanic.
 
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Apr 3, 2005
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I got a piece of coal years ago and still have it sitting on my bookcase. Even has a rust mark on one side which is kind of interesting in a way.
 

George Huck

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I have still not been able to find out where the White Star Line got its coal from. I hope it is Yorkshire where I come from. We in Sheffield made the Titanics rudder post. Only we could make the steel that was needed for the strongest part of the ship. The yanks also came to us to build the heat sheilds for their Saturn 5 rockets. Good old Sheffield
 

George Huck

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Dear Bob, is that truely where the coal was mined from, how do you know this. I am not doubting you for onr moment. Could you tell me anything else about the coal.
Thanks
 

Bob Godfrey

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The White Star Line obtained their steam coal from Lewis Merthyr Consolidated Collieries Ltd, which operated mines in the Rhondda Valley. The same company supplied Cunard and several other major shipping Lines. Many other European Lines, along with the Royal Navy (and even the German Navy!) also obtained their steam coal from sources in the Rhondda. Reason being that Welsh anthracite was the best available for that particular purpose. Certainly the best in Europe; possibly the best in the World.
 

George Huck

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Dear Bob, Thank you very much for that information. It adds to the facination I have in the small piece of coal I bought off e bay. Very grateful
 

Roy Mengot

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May 16, 2006
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The coal may also be American. Some years back an analysis was done by members of the MFP on the coal chunks now being sold through the exhibition. They showed signatures of both UK coal fields and US fields. Ships in the US were refueled with American coal. Titanic had a lot of coal transfered to it from other ships because of the coal strike.

Regards
Roy Mengot
 
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Dec 29, 2006
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If the coal being sold as “Titanic Coal”￾ is indeed American coal, there can be only two explanations. Either the White Star Line was purchasing its coal from North America and shipping it across the Atlantic (at great expense), or the coal in question is not White Star coal. The logic is inescapable.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Either the White Star Line was purchasing its coal from North America and shipping it across the Atlantic (at great expense),<<

Or more likely, they were simply overloading the bunkers and some of the extra storage places with as much coal as they could possibly stuff into whatever was available. I recall reading something to that effect but I don't remember the source.
 
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The preparations that were being made for the 1912 coal strike received extensive press coverage. For example, there were reports of British tramp steamers moving to North America for the duration of the strike, while transportation companies such as the Great Eastern Railway converted many of their locomotives into oil-burners. There is no indication that steamship companies considered purchasing American coal for use in the UK, while European coal was of little use - an attempt to use Belgian coal was a total failure because it was not steam coal.

Assuming that suitable supplies of steam coal could be obtained in the USA, British steamships would obviously have stocked up as soon as they arrived in America — thereby introducing American coal into their bunkers. However, as the Titanic never reached its destination this would not have applied, and it seems to me to be highly unlikely that the ill-fated vessel could have been carrying American coal.

A further objection to the “American coal”￾ theory concerns the threatened American coal strike, which more or less coincided with the British strike, and led to fears of a coal shortage on both sides of the Atlantic.
 
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>>and it seems to me to be highly unlikely that the ill-fated vessel could have been carrying American coal.<<

Unless some was nicked from the laid up vessels to fill her bunkers. I doubt it was a lot, but it's not impossible. When you get down to it, the forensics which Roy mentioned point to some being there. It doesn't go away.
 
J

Jeff Kelley

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With a UK coal strike looming or underway, I would expect that any ship steaming from North America would be stuffed to the gills with coal as a hedge against shortages on the other side of the Atlantic.

Presumably some of this hoarded coal was sold to - or otherwise commandeered by - WSL for Titanic.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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As Michael says, its is not impossible that a small quantity of American coal could have found its way into the Titanic's bunkers, but until somebody can find evidence that US coal was being used I remain sceptical. As I have already suggested, the coal strike was well-covered by the contemporary press, but there is no mention of American coal being used - although the American coal owners were not slow in moving into the coal export market. The following quote is from The Times on 12 May 1912:

"There has been a remarkable exodus of steamers during the last few weeks from South Wales and British ports generally to the United States. The number of cargo boats leaving Cardiff for American ports since the beginning of the year is exactly double the number recorded in the corresponding period of last year, and one company, which has not sent a boat across the Atlantic for six years, has seven on the way at present and more to follow.

Most of these boats live from hand to mouth when they go on the chance of getting cargo, and although their captains profess to have an open mind with regard to the result of their voyage, nobody in shipping circles here has any doubt that they are hoping to fill their holds with coal for European markets. Their objective in the immediate future is the Mediterranean, for, as far as I can learn, no attempt has been made to ship American coal to British ports.

Several inquiries have been made in South Wales since January 1 for American coal in the event of a strike on this side, but employers do not at the moment seem anxious to precipitate further industrial trouble by entering into contracts for immediate delivery".
 
J

Jeff Kelley

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So it seems that reports at the time confirm that some people were looking to North America for coal.

In my opinion it is not necessary to prove that there were large scale imports of US coal as cargo to support the supposition that some American coal made it's way into the Titanic's hold. As has been suggested, ships returning from the other side of the Atlantic may have relinquished or sold their remaining American coal to the highest bidder or biggest player. The WSL certainly would have been a prime candidate for that honor, as they had their new ship scheduled for a maiden voyage, and many "lesser" lines cancelled their transatlantic voyages because of the coal strike.

Because the American coal possibility is quite plausible, I will be happy to believe the guarantees offered by RMST Inc. in regard to their Titanic coal, but this is certainly an interesting topic for further research. In my mind the questions raised are not so much a statement of skepticism about these particular artifacts but rather a tantalizing clue to some very interesting circumstances that might have existed in the coal trade in 1912.
 

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