No ceremony


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jean leysman

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Why was there no official ceremony when Titanic was launched (except for the stands for the VIP’s)?
There where no speeches, no music and no bottle of champagne to baptise the ship.
All this was, by the way, in high contrast with the launch of Olympic.

Leysman
 
Jan 5, 2001
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I don't think it was a contrast with Olympic - she didn't have music or champagne. However, there was far more public interest in Olympic; until Titanic sank.

There were some speeches at the reception following Olympic's launch and I think that also applies for Titanic.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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Don't forget that Olympic was also the first of the class. First-in-line ships generally get the most attention, since later vessels are viewed as "cookie cutter" ships of the original.

In fact, H&W, as far as I know, never christened ships it launched. Why they didn't, I don't know.


Adam
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Mmmmmmmm...I think the destinction is that White Star never christened the ships it launched. I don't know what can be said about vessels built for other customers.

But I could be wrong too. Corrections are invited.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 25, 2001
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The only real differences between the two lanches was the color of the hull and the amount of press attention.

David
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Interestingly, Olympic's launch had three pages in the local paper and lavish pictures, but Titanic barely had one page.
 

Dave Gittins

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One difference was that Olympic's launch was attended by a bigger bigwig than any that went to see Titanic. He was the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, this is, the King's representative. Titanic had to make do with the Mayor of Belfast.

White Star was not silly when it came to launch ceremonies. Given the style of speech making of the time it was much more fun to dispense with speeches, launch the ship and off to the booze!
 

Martin Pirrie

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Jun 28, 2000
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It was also Lord Pirrie's birthday! He probably wanted to get home to cut the birthday cake with Lady P.! It was her birthday too! He was also sailing on Olympic to Southampton that evening so he had to be quick!

Martin Pirrie.
 
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Other Olympic launch guests included (to name one-fifth of the list given):

Miss Asquith, the Prime Minister’s daughter; Captain Hunter, A.D.C.; Captain Warner, A.D.C.; Lord and Lady Aberdeen; the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Belfast, Miss Carlisle, and the Lord Mayor’s Private Secretary Mr. F. W. Moneypenny, M.V.O.; the High Sheriff; the Lord Chief Baron and Miss Palles; Lord Powerscourt. and loads of others.
 

Sam Brannigan

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As far as bigwigs went, they didn't get much bigger than JP Morgan, who was in Belfast that day.

May 31st 1911 was probably the most spectacular day in the history of Harland and Wolff - the launch of the Titanic and the subsequent departure of the Olympic on her maiden voyage.

100,000 people attended the launch, which, as Mark says, makes it interesting that the event carried so little press coverage.

Afterwards, the VIP's were entertained by Lord Pirrie at Queen's Island (Luncheon was probably fairly spectacular!), while members of the press, yard officials, and a number of other visitors were given seperate luncheons at Belfast's Grand Central Hotel.

The press were entertained by J. Shelley of White Star - probably the best job of all time, telling the worlds' media about the wonders of the Olympic Class over fine food and wine!

Apparantly (and I would like this confirmed by a source other than Robin Gardiner!), Pirrie, Ismay, Morgan and all the other VIP'S were then transferred to the brand new Nomadic, which ferried them to the Olympic. This was Nomadic's first official duty before she left for Cherbourg.

The Olympic then sailed for Liverpool, where she was open to the city for a day, before proceeding to Southampton to commence preparations for her Maiden Voyage.

While there was no champagne, probably no speeches, and a low key kept over all regarding the official ceremonies, the magnificent spectacle that day in Belfast Lough, and the cheers of 100,000 people would have more than made up for it!

Regards

Sam
 
Mar 3, 1998
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As Sam points out, 31 May 1911 really belonged to Olympic. Yes, they started with the launch of SS401, but the real festivities took place in and around Olympic.

As a collector, I am especially frustrated that no launch brochure was ever printed for Titanic, as was done for Olympic and Britannic.

There was also no 'handing over' ceremony for Titanic. No dignitaries, no public ceremony. The crew picked Titanic up in Belfast and hastened her to her departure port, Southampton. Titanic never even had the time to see her registration port of Liverpool.

Parks
 

Sam Brannigan

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Dec 20, 2000
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Hi Parks,

I believe that Thomas Andrew's signed the papers for H&W while Harold Sanderson represented White Star. This seems to have been a very quick and unfussy piece of business, as the Titanic was berthed in Belfast for no more than an hour following her sea trials on April 1st 1912.
She left at 8pm for Southampton in order to make it in time for the midnight tide next day.
I suppose she did not stop off in Liverpool for a number of reasons, the major one being the time factor.
She had already lost one days preparation time in Southampton due to the high winds up Belfast Lough delaying her trials for a day, and the fact that Easter Sunday would eat into the time needed to get her ready also did not help.
Perhaps White Star also felt it was unneccesary to stop the second ship of the class off in Liverpool, as the city had already experienced the Olympic and, well, time costs money! Maybe someone can confirm whether White Star originally had plans to exhibit the Titanic there or not.
This account from John Wright (Titanic Voices p84) perhaps sums up the general feeling about the Titanic before April 15th 1912:


"Well the Titanic was just another ship to us at the time of course, she was one of a series of large ships...we were very interested in the Olympic and the Mauretania and the Lusitania, they came along about that time too. They were all wonders in their day and of course when the Titanic came she was just another wonder and we thought not an awful lot about her until the terrible happening"


So there you have it!! Funnily enough, Parks, that quote might fit in well with the thread you initiated to vent some of your frustration about people who describe the Titanic as the "greatest ship in the history of the world"!
wink.gif


Regards

Sam
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Hi Sam, I wonder if the real reason that Titanic didn't call off in Liverpool might have been because the Olympic, when she visited, received very little mention in the press. The only photo of the Olympic berthed in the Mersey managed a fairly small article in the "Liverpool Echo".
Feelings against WSL were running high in Liverpool at this time - it was only a few years since they had "deserted" Liverpool in favour of Southampton and the average man in the street knew nothing of the treacherous sand bars in the Mersey or the awkwardness of the tides, they saw it as simply a slight on the City. The local newspapers also lost a fair amount of advertising revenue through the transfer to Southampton and it did not help matters that some of the top officials at Cunard were major shareholders in the newspaper and wielded "the big stick".
Many crew members remained loyal to WSL and moved South with the Company, but others were unwilling to make the move and had to look around for other shipping lines to transfer to. It became a situation of too few ships and too many men.
As you rightly say, Olympic was viewed here as "just another big ship".

Geoff
 

Sam Brannigan

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Hi Geoff,

Again from Titanic Voices (p34), sailors overheard in Liverpool pubs:

"a waste of money....she's too big....she'll bump into summat....no ship's unsinkable....no damn good to Liverpool....she'll be sailing out o' Southampton."

(From "Tramps and Ladies" by Sir James Bisset)

White Star's transfer of operations to Southampton must have had a major effect on the Liverpool economy, as well as the psychological blow of losing the worlds largest ships to another port.
However, didn't White Star continue to use Liverpool for many of its older liners such as the Adriatic and the Baltic? I know the Adriatic docked there when it returned Ismay to England after the American Inquiry.
Scant consolation indeed, and I'm sure many in Liverpool would have seen the courtesy call of the Olympic in 1911 as White Star rubbing their noses in it. It seems such a strange thing to do - perhaps they wished to show her off to the press there, as presumably they were among the most informed and respected papers with regard to maritime affairs anywhere.
Bit of an old faux pas there by the sounds of it!

Another point I find interesting is that the Oceanic was based at Southampton instead of the more up-to-date Adriatic etc. Was this a reflection of the publics love of her and White Star's pride in the ship, or did the line have more financial reasons for this deployment of its fleet, perhaps trying to keep a balance with regard to tonnage between the two ports?

Regards

Sam
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Home ports often have absolutely nothing to do with the route of the ship. For instance, until the 1970s virtually every Great Lakes freighter had Wilmington, Delaware as its home port. None of the ships (to my knowledge) ever visited that fair city. The home port in this case had to do with avoiding certain taxes.

The choice of a home port is part of the documentation procedure in which a ship is enrolled in the merchant marine of a particular country. I don't know the British regulations of 1912, but there may have been legal reasons for putting Liverpoole on the fantail that had nothing to do with day-to-day operation of the ship. It could even have been done simply because that's the way all the ship's had been home ported. ("home ported" is a technical term in the documentation business--trust me)

Don't put too much thought into why Titanic never visited Liverpool beyond the simple fact that it wasn't on the route for that voyage.

--David G. Brown
 
Mar 3, 1998
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I'm sorry I ever mentioned L'pool. It was never my intention to claim that Titanic never reaching her registration port was any big deal. I just added that to a list of Titanic's events that differed from Olympic's.

Parks
 
Dec 13, 1999
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David, Yes, I agree in the main with what you are saying but why, in that case, bring the "Olympic" to Liverpool in the first place? I still maintain that it was supposed to be a magnificent piece of PR work which didn't go according to plan. WSL had simply mis-judged the outcome.
Smaller WSL liners did still sail from Liverpool but to the guy in the street it still looked as though the Company was playing favourites.

Geoff
 
Oct 28, 2000
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George W. -- you may be right about the PR flop of bringing Olympic to Liverpool. My point was with regard to Titanic only.

-- David G. Brown
 

Mark Baber

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Jul 4, 2000
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However, didn't White Star continue to use Liverpool for many of its older liners such as the Adriatic and the Baltic?

To the end of its days White Star served New York from Liverpool. Even after the principal service moved to Southampton in 1907, there continued to be weekly Thursday departures from Liverpool. (The Southampton departures were on Wednesday.) The ships that served Liverpool were slower, less luxurious and usually (but not always) smaller and older than the Southampton ships.

When the Southampton service started in 1907, the ships placed there were Adriatic II (which entered service in 1907), Oceanic II (1899), Teutonic (1889) and Majestic I (1890). The first set of Liverpool ships consisted of Baltic II (1904), Cedric (1903), Celtic II (1901) and Arabic II (1903).

Later, the final White Star maiden voyage (Georgic II, 25 June 1932) was from Liverpool to New York, as was the final trip of any White Star ship (Britannic III, 11 November 1960).

Sources: The New York Times, 7 January 1907, 21 August 1960, 25 and 26 November 1960, 6 December 1960; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Haws' Merchant Fleets; Anderson's White Star; Mallett and Bell's The Pirrie-Kylsant Motorships; de Kerbrech and Williams' Cunard White Star Liners of the 1930s.

MAB
 
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