Gigantic

Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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...and on a postscript note, I'm running out of sources to check! In the last few weeks, I've checked the following:

The Liverpool Journal of Commerce for May, June, July, August, November (up to the 23rd) and some of December 1911

Belfast Newsletter - July and August (up to about the 23rd) 1911

Belfast Evening Telegraph - July 1911

Lloyds List - July and August 1911

Southampton Times and Hampshire Express - July and August 1911.

I found very few references to Gigantic, or of a superliner, bigger than Olympic or Titanic. My other sources of information is drying up, but I have one more unexpected resource, which I will be personally checking on Monday, which seems dubious but comes from an excellent source and does not seem to have been checked for over 20 years. Watch this space, I'll get back to you!

You may ask why I have only checked certain dates rather than full months - time issues! It takes ages to hunt through some newspapers, especially the Belfast papers which don't have a dedicated shipping section unlike the Southampton ones.

Best wishes

Paul
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http://www.paullee.com
 
Mar 3, 1998
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It is an interesting article and good to see such obscure paperwork come to light, but let's keep everything in perspective before we consider the debate well and truly closed.

By concentrating on the vendor's order book, Jonathan Smith neglects the shipyard's own order book. Simon Mills published excerpts from this order book in last month's Commutator. I have seen copies of the pages in their full context and what is clear from that study is that Harland & Wolff documented the name of Britannic being associated with Hull No. 433 as early as 28 June 1911, almost a month before Titanic's launch and over 7 months before the Hingley & Sons purchase order.

Jonathan's article went on to state that Hingley retained the name Gigantic until November 1913. However, we have all seen the famous photo of the skeletal framework of the 433 hull in the gantry with the large Britannic placard in front of it...that photo was taken in February 1913, just as framing was completed. Jonathan doesn't make that comparison in his article or attempt to explain why the vendor for the anchor would continue to refer to the ship as Gigantic several months after H&W's public advertising of the name Britannic.

So, what is the real importance behind the use of the name Gigantic by one of the shipyard vendors? The paperwork that Jonathan uncovered is very interesting because it represents documented non-newspaper sources for the name Gigantic. However, we are no closer to understanding the genesis of the name than we were before...where did Hingley get the idea for the name? The shipyard? Doubtful...the shipyard was already referring to Hull No. 433 as Britannic well before that time. Where then? The popular media? That doesn't seem right, does it? The mystery continues, in my opinion.

I believe that Jonathan's article adds an interesting piece to the puzzle but doesn't solve it. Like much evidence regarding these ships, this latest revelation raises more questions than it answers.

Parks
 
Nov 15, 2006
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Being unaware of Simons article for he THS, what you see over on the TRMA is of what I have found recently. Closing the story?, no, not at all and anyone who may think that is (sorry to say) a little naive. This is just another chapter in Britannic's story. I was not the first to find this, however it would appear that in the Titanic community I am the first to publish it.

Many of us know that Harlands had the Britannic name ready for use from early stages. Even during the orders of these components from 'Hingleys'. But what we can't ignore is that 'Hingleys' had to have got the name from somewhere and from someone with 'clout' which the tabloid just didn't have.

I live just a couple of miles from where Hingleys were based. The very heart of the England, in the industrial county known as the West Midlands.

'Noah Hingleys & Sons Ltd' had been going since the 1840s (closed in 1982). They had grown into one of the Midlands largest industrial groups. Because of this, the Netherton Works was created. A vast area of land turned into a complex of working facilities that included Hingelys (and other companies), coal pits, pig iron works, transportation and living areas for workers, basically a small town. I highly doubt that Hingelys would make mistakes based on what they read in the tabloids at the time. Hingleys had a lot going for them and it would not make any sense for them to carry out work via hear say. This was a company supplying components ALL over the world. The name 'Gigantic' is (as you can see) clearly printed into the book. Yes, 'Britannic' had been choosen, the name board on the gantry during the framing of the ship indicates 'Britannic', but someone was still using 'Gigantic' while ordering for that vessel. It reminds me of a large manifacturer of today putting out order for something, for example Mercedes Benz. They put in an order with there top supplier for engine cylinder for a un-named new Merc model. The company making the cylinders enter the order into a book but instead of using the name Merc ***** (what ever) they use a name given to a Volvo model. The same applies with Hingleys. They had been supplying Harlands for many years previous to this Britannic order. These guys were experienced manifactures who kept a well detailed account of there products, even by having someone log everything.

The anchor/links order had to come from the top, Harlands?, this is the strongest possibility, they cant be ruled out. I can't see anyone else putting the order through unless some Tom, Mick or Harry down on the slipways sent the communication to Hingleys referring to the 'Britannic' as 'Gigantic'. Hingleys would need a ships name or number to register the order. The rest of the order within that same volumn of almost 450 pages has near identicle orders using other ships names and numbers. There were even enteries into that book for other ships which had there names changed. However, this order book appears to be the final entery for the order. It goes into some detail of what is needed for Harlands. A order, but certainly not a receipt.

The first entry given to the order is 433, followed by 'Gigantic', then finally amended in pencil as 'Britannic'. Being in pencil, this doesn't sound very offical as the rest is in both red and black ink.

And as Parks has already pointed out, this would raise more questions than answers and it certainly has.

The article was kept to a minimum as I wanted the images to tell the story. The name is their for all to see. I'm not saying that Britannic was never intended to be used, far from it, I do suggest that the name Gigantic used by the press was indeed being thrown about for it to be used officially in this manner by Hingleys.

As already posted within these threads, the 'Gigantic' name was already in use where the press were concerned. This find does add more clout to those press reports of the time.

Certainly exciting to say the least.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>This find does add more clout to those press reports of the time.<<

That or it points to an assumption made somewhere which changed into a rumour which had nothing to do with reality, but which took on a life of it's own. It's not as if that's a first.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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In recent years, documentation unearthed by various researchers (among which number Simon Mills, Mark Chirnside, Paul Lee and now Jonathan Smith) have definitively killed the myth that 433 was named Britannic in the wake of the Titanic disaster. This research has also established the fact that the name Gigantic was more than just a fantasy. The question now remains, what is the origin of the name Gigantic and when was it supplanted by the name Britannic? The hunt continues.

I am not directly involved in this research, but rather commenting on the work of others. If I may, I would like to offer an example from my own line of work that may help the researchers in their work.

As some of you may know, I am employed to build a module for the Zumwalt Class Destroyer Program. During the capture, proposal and start-up phase of this shipbuilding program, the ship that we would ultimately build was referred to as DD(X). Sometime in 2006, the term DD(X) was supplanted by the more specific term DDG-1000. Yet again this year, the name was officially changed to the Zumwalt Class. Each name change resulted in numerous changes to existing documentation and logos...anything that used the previous name. As you can imagine, these changes came at a cost, especially when you consider the added requirement of maintaining traceability from one name to the next so that someone going back in time through the records will find a continuous trail of history.

I work for the prime contractor for my module. I also manage a subcontractor, who is under contract to supply a number of subcomponents to our module. At the time when we brought the subcontractor under contract, the program was called DD(X). The subcontractor's delivery schedule was brought into our master integrated schedule. As we went through the program name changes, though, the subcontractor's delivery schedule was left unchanged. There was no practical need to spend the time and money to change the subcontractor's schedule or invoices, just to institute a name change...traceability was maintained through our prime. So, as I review my subcontractor's line items today, they still carry the anachronistic term DD(X) even though we -- and the shipyard -- use Zumwalt Class. As I thought about Jonathan's article, it seemed to me that this kind of situation might help explain why Hingley's used an obsolete name long after the shipyard had committed to the name Britannic.

There may be no direct correlation between contracted work in the British shipbuilding industry a century ago and similar work in the American industry today. But I thought that I would offer this example as a possible avenue to explore as you continue your search for the origins and use of the Gigantic name.

Parks
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Just to keep everyone up to date, Mark Chirnside and my paper is in the latest THS Commutator.<<

Seen it, Paul. Interesting stuff there. Of course, it's not conclusive by a long shot, but there is a whiff of smoke there even if it's not a smoking gun.
 
Mar 3, 2010
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Hi, after Titanic sank, they changed it, I think they thought that they were pushing, it with a name like Gigantic.

[Moderator's Note: This message and the one above it, originally a separate thread in an unrelated topic, have been moved to this pre-exiting thread addressing the same subject. MAB]
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Rocky, see earlier posts, especially those by me and Mark Chirnside.

It's definitely established that Britannic was named almost a year before the sinking. The only real uncertainty is whether Gigantic was ever considered by White Star. Personally, I think the name was a press beat-up. Mark thinks that it really was considered at an early stage. Unless new documentation from White Star turns up, that's about where things stand.
 

ADeblois

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Mar 18, 2012
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I could bet with 100% certainty that had Titanic not sunk, White Star Line would have named the third liner in the class Gigantic. I don't see why they wouldn't have. The name "Gigantic" just fits with "Olympic" and "Titanic". I have started a tentative project codenamed "Gigantic" -- to design and build an ocean liner to honor the Giants of Greek myth (hence where the name "Gigantic" came from) that will look like an Olympic-class liner, but with the latest modern-day design improvements, like enclosed lifeboats, diesel propulsion, modern leisure and entertainment areas, and more. On a personal note, I don't feel like I'm tempting fate by using "Gigantic" as a name - to me it simply evokes a sense of strength and size. I don't see what the fuss is about using Gigantic as a name (Titanic didn't sink because of it's name). Hopefully she becomes reality.

Here is my facebook page about RMS Gigantic: http://www.facebook.com/pages/​RMS-Gigantic/390508334342813
 

Dave Gittins

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As I pointed out, there is documentary proof that the third ship was named Britannic at least as early as May 1911. The only argument left is over whether Gigantic was ever considered. Personally, I say no, but Mark Chirnside thinks yes. That's about it! (The reason I say no is because whenever Gigantic is mentioned in the press it's accompanied by silly accounts of its facilities and ridiculous dimensions)
 

ADeblois

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Mar 18, 2012
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As I pointed out, there is documentary proof that the third ship was named Britannic at least as early as May 1911.
That just doesn't make sense to me. Why would White Star choose "Britannic" over "Gigantic" for their third Olympic-class liner? Britannic just doesn't evoke the same tone as Gigantic does -- "Britannic" just doesn't fit the "Olympic" class theme. I don't get their logic. And as you state, May 1911 was Titanic's launch month, and it would be fully a year before she sails. Was her name finalized before she was laid down (meaning Novemeber 30, 1911), or was she laid down as "Gigantic" and renamed after?
 

Dave Gittins

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Britannic was probably chosen because the earlier ship of that name had been popular. I keep coming back to the fact that there is not a single document from H & W, the Board of Trade or White Star that mentions Gigantic. The register of H & W ships maintained by a yard manager, Charles Payne, shows no trace of a change of name. Its entry for 433 shows clearly Britannic.

By May 1911 the name Gigantic was starting to look silly, as the bigger German ships were on the way. If it ever was considered there was good reason to drop it.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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There's good reason to believe that the name was never considered in the first place. A lot is made about the poster with the four stacker which was called "Gigantic" but nothing to indicate that the image ever came from White Star, and everything to indicate that it was a generic image which could have pointed to any four stacker from any line.

If I recall correctly, it was Mark Chirnside who was the one who pointed this out. as much research as he's done on the Olympic class liners, I would think that if anybody would have found credible evidence for the name Gigantic anywhere, he would be the guy.
 

ADeblois

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Mar 18, 2012
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Okay, I get what you guys are saying now.

Just to ask, which of the three names do you think evokes more feeling of size and strength: Olympic, Titanic, or Gigantic?
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Actually, the "poster" was discredited by Mark Baber a few years ago. He realised that it is a packing slip for a household product, probably a blanket. The figures in the middle are its dimensions in inches. Gigantic is a brand name, or a model name. I'd had already pointed out in my e-book that the ship is in an approximation of Cunard colours. I might have added that there is no name of its line on the poster and the artwork is crude compared with real shipping posters. Mark sank the "poster "forever!

As to the name, perhaps Titanic is best. Olympic is associated with the Olympian gods, who were a very mixed lot. Some were drunken layabouts. Gigantic suggests mere size. I'm pretty gigantic myself but I'm not at all strong!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Actually, the "poster" was discredited by Mark Baber a few years ago.<<

He may have sunk it but it's amazing how it keeps coming back. I guess no matter how compelling the evidence against it, some legends just refuse to die.