News from 1926 Death of Alexander Carlisle


Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 6 March 1926

CARLISLE, DESIGNER OF TITANIC, IS DEAD
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Member of Privy Council and Noted Engineer Stricken at 72
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DISASTER BROKE HIS HEART
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Recently Visited Old Friend, Ex-Kaiser---Wanted “Merry Widow Waltz” Played at Funeral
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Copyright, 1926, by The New York Times Company
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By Wireless to THE NEW YORK TIMES
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LONDON, March 5---Alexander Carllisle, [sic] member of the Privy Council and noted engineer, who designed the ill-fated Titanic and other great ocean liners, died today at the age of 72. He was a friend of the former Kaiser and only recently visited the imperial German exile in Doorn, Holland. He announced a few weeks ago that he was ready to die at any moment and that the prospect of death did not worry him.

Mr. Carlisle once was managing director of Harland & Wolff, the famous firm of Belfast shipbuilders, and it was said the Titanic tragedy broke his heart. Besides the former Kaiser, he knew most of the distinguished Europeans of his time. In London he was noted for his Bohemian habits. He was a brother of Viscountess Pirrie. He was made Privy Councillor by King Edward in 1907.

Several years ago he caused a sensation by shouting his protest against a bill relating to Ireland from the steps of the throne in the House of Lords. This incident led to his being deprived of his Privy Councillor's privilege of admittance to the steps of the throne.

Paid In Advance for Funeral

When his fatal illness began two months ago, Mr. Carlisle paid for his funeral services, directing that his body be cremated at Golder's Green and that the organist should play "The Merry Widow Waltz" at the funeral. "I am sure it will be more agreeable than the dead march from 'Saul'," he remarked.

The famous shipbuilder always followed his own inclinations, having scanty respect for convention. The protest he shouted from the rail at the steps to the throne of the House of Lords during the debate on the Irish Coercion bill in August, 1920, consisted of thirteen words: "My Lords, if you pass this bill, you may kill England, not Ireland." No reply was forthcoming and he left the House. A few days later, the late Earl Curzon, Foreign Secretary, sent a formal demand for an apology for "a serious affront to the dignity of their lordships." Mr. Carlisle answered that if he had offended the King he was ready to apologize amply, but that if the episode was solely regarded as an injury to the House of Lords, "then the case was different." Earl Curzon considered that this answer aggravated rather than diminished the gravity of the offense and at his request the House of Lords passed a resolution curtailing Mr. Carlisle's privileges.

Respect for the Germans

His friendship with the former Kaiser came through the marriage of his daughter to Baron Frederick von Verson, one of Wilhelm's aids. [sic] He had high respect for the Germans as shipbuilders, stating two years ago that "they are equal in every way to us as shipbuilders and operators." He prophesied that when the Germans again competed with the British in this field there would be no telling what would be the limit for the size and speed of ocean liners.

A native of Ballymena, Country Antrim, Ireland, Mr. Carlisle was a son of the late John Carlisle, M. A., headmaster of the Royal Academical Institution in Belfast. The son was educated there and entered the service of Harland & Wolff in 1870 as an apprentice. He married Edith Wooster of San Francisco, who survives, as do a son and two daughters.

His long career as a shipbuilder coincided with the tremendous modern development in construction of ocean liners. The Oceanic that was launched by Harland & Wolff in 1872 displaced 3,000 tons; the second Oceanic, in 1899, was of 17,274 tons. The increase in size continued until 1911 when 46,000 tons were reached with the Olympic and Titanic. Mr. Carlisle remained with Harland & Wolff long enough to prepare for the launching of those great ships.

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Jan 28, 2003
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How times change. They shout much worse things in the House of Lords nowadays, and nobody gets deprived of admittance to the steps of the throne (whatever that means). His friendship with the Kaiser must have gone through some tricky times during WW1, and when we seized the Imperator(?) as reparation in 1918.
 

Inger Sheil

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quote:

The protest he shouted from the rail at the steps to the throne of the House of Lords during the debate on the Irish Coercion bill in August, 1920, consisted of thirteen words: "My Lords, if you pass this bill, you may kill England, not Ireland."
The position of the various figures associated with Harland and Wolff towards the Irish issues of the day fascinates me - Pirrie was a Home Ruler, as I recall? I'd be saying some sharpish things if I was there for the 1920 Government of Ireland Bill, but they would be too inflamatory to post here, I suspect
happy.gif
My words to Hamar Greenwood et al would be far less parlimentary than Carlisle's comments!
 

Dave Gittins

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The British monarch is only allowed to enter the House of Lords. She is barred from the Commons by a tradition going back to the antics of Charles I.

In the House of Lords, a throne is provided, from which the monarch opens Parliament.

Carlisle was a member of the Privy Council. This was originally a body of courtiers who advised the monarch. By Carlisle's day, there were many members and the position was an honour with few real duties. Carlisle's membership entitled him to take a place of honour near the throne, but he was held to have abused the privilege.

Today, certain members of the Privy Council act as go-betweens between the Parliament and the monarch. There is a fine tradition is which these members assemble before the queen to deliver their reports. The queen sits at her desk while the PC's remain standing. This gets the meetings over very quickly, a most desirable thing!

Carlisle was something of an odd fish, hence the remark about his "Bohemian habits". He used to frequently swim in the Serpentine, even in mid-winter.
 

Inger Sheil

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Apologies, James - I must have been having a very vague moment when I mentioned Carlisle espousing a 'Home Rule' position in that post - I must have been thinking of Pirrie!
 

Dave Gittins

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Pirrie was for Home Rule only if it meant a high degree of autonomy for Ireland within the United Kingdom. There was no way he wanted an Irish republic encompassing all Ireland. When it was obvious he wouldn't get what he wanted, he supported the Unionists.

I notice that his funeral was attended by numerous big-wigs from Britain and Northern Ireland. Nobody represented the Irish Free State.
 

Inger Sheil

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quote:

Pirrie was for Home Rule only if it meant a high degree of autonomy for Ireland within the United Kingdom. There was no way he wanted an Irish republic encompassing all Ireland.
A not uncommon view of the Home Rule issue among his class (for those not flat-out opposed to it) - 'Home Rule' was certainly not synonymous with Republicanism...and many Nationalists were well aware of the difference.
 

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