News from 1874 Maiden Voyage of Britannic I

Mark Baber

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On 4 July 1874, Britannic I arrived in New York at the end of the outbound leg of her maiden voyage. This article was published a few days later. In the next to last sentence, "Saturday" means 11 July.

The New York Times, 9 July 1874

THE NEW WHITE STAR STEAMER
---
The new steamer Britannic, which the White Star Line has added to its
fleet, is a splendid illustration of the perfection of modern
shipbuilding. Like all the vessels of the White Star Line, she was
built at Belfast, Ireland, the builders being Messrs. Harland & Wolff,
who constructed the other vessels of the line. She is the largest and
finest ship belonging to the company. Her length over all is 472 feet,
breadth of beam 45 feet, and depth of hold 35 feet. Her registered
tonnage is 3,149 tons, but her carrying capacity amounts to 5,080 tons.
She is thus about 700 tons larger than the Adriatic and Celtic, and
1,000 tons larger than the Oceanic and the earlier vessels of the fleet.
The vessel was launched in January last, and since then the work of
fitting her up has been pushed forward with great rapidity. Messrs.
Maudsley, of London, are the manufacturers of her engines. These are of
the compound pattern. Their nominal horse-power is 760, but on the
trial trip they were worked up to 5,000 horse-power. They are fitted
with two pairs of cylinders, with a diameter of forty-eight and
eighty-three inches, which gives a sixty-inch stroke of piston. There
are eight boilers, and these are of a peculiar construction. The
Britannic in her first trip across the Atlantic made within three hours
of the shortest time on record. She has several peculiarities of
construction, but the principal feature is the lifting screw, which
appears to work in the most satisfactory way. It is placed at the
bottom of the vessel, a course which is adopted in order to prevent it
accumulating motion by being lifted out of the water. The blades of the
screw are eight feet long, and the draught of the ship is thus increased
that much when she is in mid-ocean, but when she approaches shallow
water the screw is lifted until the blades are even with the keel. This
is accomplished without stopping the revolution of the screw, by means
of patent machinery. In stormy weather the new style of screw will be
best appreciated, as in the heaviest pitchings of the vessel it can
never be raised completely out of the water. Another feature in the
construction of the Britannia [sic] is that she is furnished with what
is known as a collision bulkhead. This consists of a water-tight space
immediately aft of the bows. This space is carried from the keel to the
upper deck, and extends, of course, far above the water-line. Still
another peculiarity is the steering apparatus, which gives to one man
the power of twenty-eight according to the old system. This apparatus
is on the main deck and in the forward part of the vessel. The ship can
also be steered from the wheelhouse aft, in case of any derangement of
the steam gear. There is a promenade on the hurricane-deck, 180 feet
long, for the use of the cabin passengers, and a clear passage on both
the port and starboard sides which extends nearly the entire length of
the ship. The Britannic is divided by bulkheads into eight water-tight
compartments. Her saloon is a marvel of elegance, and her staterooms
surpass those of any other steamer crossing the Atlantic. The
handsomest room in the vessel is the ladies’ saloon, which is situated
on the promenade deck. There is accommodation for 200 cabin passengers,
and for about 1,500 steerage. The Britannic is ship-rigged, and, like
all the White Star vessels, has four masts. Her voyage to New-York
occupied seven days and something less than twenty hours apparent time,
which has only been beaten by the Adriatic, of the same line. She sails
for Liverpool on Saturday. The following are her officers: Commodore,
W. H. Thompson; first officer, H. Burleigh; second officer, J. P.
Irving; third officer, J. P. Walker; fourth officer, A. McGachan;
purser, T. Barrett; surgeon, P. Neale; chief engineer, J. H. Winning;
second engineer, R. Richardson; third engineer, A. Landon; fourth
engineer, A. Little; fifth engineer, J. Duncan; sixth engineer, W.
Sharp; seventh engineer, J. Russell; eighth engineer, J. Redfern.

-30-

(Message edited by mab on July 4, 2002)
 
Dec 2, 2000
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This is a very interesting article Mark. Kind of eery in a way, but it almost seems like one could remove the 1874 references to the particular ship and insert Titanic specs and it would read like 1912. It would be interesting to see over time how White Star prepared media information for release. Seems pretty cookie cutter style to me.

Thanks for the post. This was great.
Maureen.
 

Mark Baber

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Thanks, Maureen...glad you liked it.

Over the years, and especially after White Star started turning out one "largest ship in the world" after another, a number of very similar articles appeared in the Times. Except for some different figures and officers' names, those articles are almost indistinguishable. A message board search for items titled "News from" will pull up the ones I've posted here already; the next one will appear Monday.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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You are most welcome Mark. This is very interesting. Wonder if people like Ismay submitted these news items pre-written to the press or if the Times wrote based on interviews, Shipbuilder articles and perhaps earlier articles?

"Except for some different figures and officers' names, those articles are almost indistinguishable."

That's what makes me think that it is an article submitted like a news release by the company rather than researched and written by an individual writer.

Does the article say who the writer is?

Thanks for posting these Mark. I am grateful.

Maureen.
 

Mark Baber

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Does the article say who the writer is?

There are no by-lines on any of the articles I've transcribed and posted here.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Many older companies had a like "clipping service" that maintained their advertising and things written about them that could be used in news articles provided to the press. Chances are that there was a template used to do press releases at White Star in what I would call a clipping service sort of operation within their company. They would then provide the papers with an article.

Just interesting. Thanks.
Maureen.