Inverkeithing Scotland where Olympics's keel was broken up


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Hi,

I managed to take this shot from a passing train of the former Thomas Ward scrap yard at Inverkeithing, Fife where the Olympic's keel was towed in September 1937 after almost two years of being stripped down at Jarrow. The basin is still there to be seen.

Stuart
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Here is a photo of the Olympic's name inside the office block. I visited this site in December 1999 with a conventional 35mm compact camera, however the battery was nearly done on it so the close up photos of the basin and the yard did not develop. The Olympic's name is partly hidden by the ship's wheel but it is written slightly larger letters than the hundreds of other ships listed in the entrance foyer to the office block that were broken up in Inverkeithing up to 1960. I forgot to check if the one of the ships broken up in 1960 was the M.V. Britannic. It is quite an emotional place for an Olympic enthusiast. Visiting the site of Palmer's yard in Jarrow and this office block on the north bank of the Firth of Forth makes you think of how Titanic enthusiasts feel of Titanic's resting place in the North Atlantic. Except of course, 'the sad ruin of the great ship' is no where to be seen. The name in the entrance foyer is all that there is to remind the visitor so long as they look behind the ship's wheel.

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Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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It still won't look any better, I regularly survey various properties in Inverkeithing and the scrapyard - which has been the last resting place of many a fine ship - is a dismal and rather depressing place even in high summer.

Perhaps that is only fitting, but it is a cold and empty place, and never quite seems to get the sun. Currently, some old trawlers are being broken up, but it has been some time since anything big has been in.

One thing - across the other side of the motor way is the new ferryport at Rosyth. There may be more rewarding subjects there which both yourself and the other members of this august body might find interesting
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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(1) The large new super ferries that operate out of the new ferry terminal - although little more than large boxes that happen to float, they do make for an interesting contrast with the styles of a hundred years ago. Personally, in this utilitarian world we live in, it serves to show that the one thing we have lost is a sense of style.

(2) One of our carriers - Illustrious ? - is in at the moment undergoing refit

(3) It is not unknown for the QE2 to put in when the Golf Open is going on in St Andrews. Last year we went down at twilight and she was a beautiful sight. The new liner - Queen Mary 2 ? - has a lot to live up to.
 

Brent Holt

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Jun 23, 2002
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Why was Olympic's hull towed to Inverkeithing? Why wasn't the scrapping completed at Jarrow?
Brent
 
Olympic was the first big ship to be broken up at Jarrow. It was brought there under a scheme devised by the philanthropic Member of Parliament, Sir John Jarvis, to create employment in the town regarded as being worst hit by the Great depression in Britain. Getting the Olympic up the River Tyne was a difficult maneuvre enough, only being possible at high tide and when low tide came at her berth at Palmer's Works, she sank into the mud bank. Only the stripping away of her superstructure and removal of several thousands tons of seel from her made her buoyant again. There was no infrastructure there suitable for breaking up the keel and so another place would have to be used to complete the final stages of demolition.

Thomas Ward & Co. of Sheffield were performing the scrapping in order to get the steel from the ship to make knives, forks, razor blades and other mundane steel items. The had an established scrap yard at Inverkeithing (about a hundred miles or so up the east coast) that had the equipment to break up the Olympic's keel. So, after the stripping down of the hull had got so far in Jarrow, she would have to be moved to a place where the demoliton could be finished. Inverkeithing was the nearest place. It would be interesting to find out how long it took them in at Inverkeithing to dismantle what was left once it arrived in September 1937.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi!

It would be interesting to find out how long it took them in at Inverkeithing to dismantle what was left once it arrived in September 1937.

I haven't really researched this Stuart, but in February 1939 advice was received that the vessel *had* been broken up at Inverkeithing, so needed to be taken off the British registry. I would assume -- without any other evidence -- that February 1939 was, therefore, the date that the dismantling was finally completed.

If there is any other information, I'd love to hear. February 1939 would mark some one-and-a-half years since the remnants of the hull had arrived at Inverkeithing, which sounds excessive, but let's face it, it took until August 1936 to strip down past the top of the bridge deck (B in 1911). I know that there was some delay owing to the surprising soundness of much of the hull, certainly the lower hull.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
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