The LordMacquitty Collection at the National Maritime Museum


Paul Lee

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I visited the NMM in Greenwich yesterday to view the collection of Lord-Macquitty, bequathed to the museum. I was first alerted by Sam Halpern that the collection may contain first-hand material that may help in sinkig forensics, but I also wanted to see the Californian related material.

The material seems to mainly comprise correspondence between Lord and survivors, experts in various fields, as well as letters written to him (someone wanted to know the cargo layout of the Titanic, someone wanted to know where the grand pianos were located!) The letters etc. are contained in old, manila envelopes, some of which are further stored in boxes. Copies of Lords letters to people are on the rustly kind of paper that writers used to make copies on their typewriters. Most letters are dated 1955.

Of course, I went there with specific letters in mind, but I had a chance to look at other information. One thing that stuck in my mind is that Edith Russell's large file of correspondence to Lord seem to contain anything but discussions about the Titanic.

Lord had written to John Podesta, offering him a full and detailed account of what he remembered. His letter ended "If my story does any good to you at any time it is published, I hope you will not forget me". Lord took this as an attempt to wrangle money out of him, and replied saying that he could only offer a copy of his book, and an acknolwedgement, before saying that he hoped Podesta would eventually deposit a copy of his account with a magazine or newspaper. If Podesta did reply, his letter is not in the file.

Lord had written to Beauchamp, on duty in Boiler Room 6 at the time of the collision; a lot of questions were asked, such as did the warning bell ring before or after the collision; was Beauchamp thrown off his feet; did any of this mates in the room survive?

Beauchamp simply replied on a bit of paper scarcely bigger than a postcard with "In stokhold (sic) when ship was struck" (!!!)

Actually, going back to the lack of Podesta reply, I must admit that I am worried about gaps in the collection. Lord had written to Rowe and had asked many questions - indeed, Lord's replies (with queries about "Whiskers around the Light" mentioned in ANTR) are preserved, but Rowe's latters are not. I suspect that these letters fell into the hands of an author who had access to Lord's papers in the 1990s.

I had also asked for the recollections of Hurst and Kemish, but for whatever reason these weren't provided yesterday. Kemish's letter is on Charles Pellegrino's website though.

Now onto the Californian material; half of it is material from Leslie Harrison, which surprised me as I thought his letters are preserved at the Liverpool Maritime Museum. Harrison's letters include just about every letter he wrote (excluding ones that I shared with him at the tail end of the 1980s), including some exchanges with Walter Lord. Most seem cordial enough, but they do seem to dry up after the mid 1980s (at the time that "The Night Lives On" was published). There are also some very old photocopies in the file- these seem to be from the 1960s and are on thick paper, almost like cardboard.

AMusingly, at one point, Harrison had sent W.Lord a copy of his schedule of events from "A Titanic Myth", but after a falling out, Harrison sent a formal letter saying that Lord was not permitted to use any copyrighted material. Lord replied to the effect "I wasn't going to use them anyway"!
And, at some point, thanks to Ed Kamuda of the THS, Lord managed to get hold of an early copy of Harrison's book but had to return it unread and unopened.

Walter Lord's notes on the Californian are much more illuminating. He was helping Leslie Reade with his manuscript of "The Ship That Stood Still" in the 1960s, and later, with Edward De Groot by fax in the early 1990s. Indeed, there are early draft chapters from that book in Lord's files. If you thought the published version of Reade's book was highly insulting of the Lordites, then you should read the draft!

There are other interesting things in the file: someone (Lord? De Groot?) had asked for a graphological handwriting analysis of Captain Lord to be performed - the result conforms more to Harrison's "Amiable old man" than Reade's "Tyranical bully".

Notes from an interview with Captain Groves (dated 6/3/57) are included. Walter Lord's handwriting is atrocious, but I made out a few things, such as this about 2nd Stone: "[Stone] was always prompt but otherwise he was hopeless: lazy, fat [??], afraid of Lord. A man who never did anything with living, except lie in his cabin snoozing between watches. How did he get this far in the company? Well, he was from Devon, and they always looked after Devon men."
Groves further noted that Lord was scared to go the rescue, and Stone was too weak to force the issues.

Talking of the Californian, I have learned that, in the later years of his life, Walter Lord was working on a manuscript about this side of the disaster. If he did make notes, or start work on a manuscript, it is not in the files.

Finally, it was a bit emotional to see that, in the 1950s, Walter Lord's handwriting is steady, if not too legible. His initials, and signatures are clear. By the 1990s, his writing is shaky, evidence of the Parkionson's taking hand of him.
 

Dave Gittins

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Paul, I am green with envy!

It's the Californian material that interests me.

It seems that the ship's log is long gone, but it's possible that somebody made an accurate copy of it in 1912. Any sign?

I've never seen a mention of Almerian before Lord's affidavit of 1959. Leslie Harrison gives a very vague account of how she was brought into the story. He gives no names or dates. Personally, I'm pretty certain she was not on the scene, for reasons I've placed on my web site. However, it's just possible that her master was trying to sail to England by some kind of great circle course, which would take him nearer to the scene of the wreck. Any documentation would be a find.
 

Senan Molony

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Californian records -

LORD-MACQUITTY COLLECTION
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

RECORD 420 - LMQ/6/1

Scope and contents: Material on the Californian and her role in the Titanic disaster, compiled by Walter Lord, 1992-1995. Includes correspondence, articles, plans and lists of crew of the Californian as well as Walter Lord's views and supporting evidence on the subject
Extent: 1 box

Call Number
LMQ/6/1 1 LMQ/6/1 MANUSCRIPT SWW

Nothing we don't know about. Dull in fact.
 

Paul Lee

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Thank you for making my visit sound like a waste of time. Don't you have anything constructive to say or do you just enjoy being abusive?
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Dave, Coming from you, that is high praise indeed! I found myself running out of time going through the files, but I did find the letter dated 7/6/12 regarding the Antillian's log book that you mentioned on your website.

Other than that, theres not a lot to go on. Harrison et al. would constantly send letters to W.Lord about the Californian, but Lord would never reply on the points raised. Lord would gripe about Harrison etc. to Reade, DeGroot, Ivan Thompson, Wilton Oldham etc. Anyone who would listen.

The letter from Stone's son to Reade is in the file and has Stone's address, so this may be an opportunity for further research.

The only other thing that I could determine in the time I had was an interesting letter dated 6/11/12 (letter M31921), regarding SS "Californian" and signed REC( R.Ellis Cunliffe). On page 2, the letter says "....but Captain Lord was not able to satisfy the Court that the position given in his Log Book was correct and the compass deviation book though asked for on the hearing was not put before the court to enable them to check the navigation prior and up to the time when the engines of the "Californian" were stopped."

Underneath is a note dated 8/11/12: "I find that the Compass deviation book of the Californian was sent by the owners to the Court after the inquiry concluded and before judgement was given so that the Corut came to their decision with the information contained in the Book before them."

I don't recall any logs etc., but there are photocopies of material expanding what was in Reade's book, such as full technical specs for the Californian, full pyrotechnic lists as used by ships at night. There are a hell of a lot of clippings about the MAID re-opening of the case c.1991/2. I recall reading that Lord would often re-use sentences in letters in his books: "they can say what they [the Lordites] want, but they can't get away from the rockets...." he would often write.

Finally, about 1991, Leslie Harrison wrote to the Minister for Transport (Cecil Parkison ??) asking him if he would re-open the Titanic/Californian enquiry. This was refused, but the Minister did concede that the distance between the two ships was considerably more than Lord Mersey found in 1912. Harrison had this letter published in the THS Commutator, and within months, the new enquiry was opened. W.Lord wrote to the Minister and asked what was the point of a new enquiry if they had already found the distance between the two ships had been predetermined? I can't remember the reply, but Lord did provide a long letter to the Minister about his views regarding the Californian, re-iterating that he thought the distance between the two ships was ten miles. W.Lord did gripe to one friend about the new enquiry, saying that it would be a waste of time if it was simply a matter of putting "old wine in new bottles".

And yes, I will be ordering your CD-ROM (if anything I want to port the javascript to a form that Linux/Mozilla et al will understand)

With best wishes

Paul
 

Dave Gittins

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Thanks, Paul. It seems there may be some interesting records of arguments behind the scenes involving Walter Lord.

The Secretary of State for Transport was Cecil Parkinson when the MAIB inquiry began. He was replaced by Malcom Rifkind by the time it ended.

M31921 contains much interesting material, including the claims made against Mount Temple. It's well worth reading.

I'd love to see the technical details on Californian.

My guru has been too busy to look at the Linux question. I'll see if I can raise him, but at the moment it's work before pleasure for him.
 

Paul Lee

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One interesting point, which others may know, but which I found interesting, is that, like Dr.Ballard, Walter Lord reversed his opinion on the salvage of artefacts. In 1987, he was hostile to the notion, saying that there was nothing we could learn from the artefacts. A newspaper edition slammed him saying his attitude was typical for someone who writes "shallow" books. But in 1990, Lord was in contact with Messrs. Eaton and Haas, and other notaries, imploring Anheuser and Busch to exhibit artefacts at Sea World, Florida. The request was turned down. This pro-artefact volte-face was not mentioned in the anti-salvage oligarchy that is THS.

Paul

http://www.paullee.com/book_details.php
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Paul

TIS published a lengthy interview with Mr. Lord around 1990 and he talked at length about his pro-salvage position on the artifacts.

Mike
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Paul

I am so glad you enjoyed the issue (and thanks for joining)- the next issue is already underway and will be in everyone's box before the Christmas holiday.

I am thinking one of these days soon, we will put the Walter Lord interview online for all to see as it is very illuminating and he gives his thoughts on many subjects.

Mike
 

Paul Lee

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I recommend publishing, for one thing I haven't seen it before
happy.gif


Incidentally, and going off topic here, Ken Marschall had an interview with (I think!) USA Today c. 1995 when he talked about his pro-salvage stance. I've often wondered how well that went down in the THS hierarchy...
 
May 27, 2007
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quote:

I am thinking one of these days soon, we will put the Walter Lord interview online for all to see as it is very illuminating and he gives his thoughts on many subjects.

I'd like to read that myself. Not only was Walter Lord an expert on Titanic but also everything else under the sun. A. A. Hoehing was also know a little of everything and wrote books on it. Pity Lord and Hoehing never wrote a book together.

I also thought Lord was Pro-Salvage from the debris-field but anti-salvage from the actual ship. Although I think Lord was leery of salvage at first but put two and two together (Something that gentleman did very well) on the condition of the Titanic's deterioration and decided to we should save as much as we could. Even back in the late 1980's it was apparent that the ship was in deteriorating condition.​
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi George

I am glad to see there are people interested in his thoughts. I will try and expedite this and hopefully it will be put here or the TIS website. Yes, like most people, he was pro from the debris field. I don't really know anyone who wanted to pull anything from the ship itself.

I used to be in correspondence with Hoehling. He was a very nice man and used an old fashioned typewriter when he wrote to me. It was always, "Dear Friend Poirier". Alot of people did not know that he was sunk during WW2 on a liberty ship. I believe one of his last books dealt with his experience. The sad thing was that he and his wife died within a very short time of one another in their 90s. We did a tribute to them in Voyage.

Mike
 
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Mike and Paul, Others-
As I said Lord was fascinated by just about everything and knew a lot on historical subjects from Pearl Harbor and the Alamo to Titanic. I wish they, the powers that be would publish his college thesis on the sinking of the Arctic. I would happily settle for a insightful interview of Mr. Lord quite happily though.

Paul said
quote:

Talking of the Californian, I have learned that, in the later years of his life, Walter Lord was working on a manuscript about this side of the disaster. If he did make notes, or start work on a manuscript, it is not in the files.
If only he had gotten to finish it. Even if it tells us nothing new W. Lord is so entertaining to read. I love his writing style and I could see him saying "Putting old wine in new bottles" about old information, which sounds like something he'd say.

A. A.Hoehing and his wife, Mary were also keen researchers on everything from Lady spies and the Spanish Influenza to the Lusitania and the Civil War. I recommend his book on the Spanish Influenza but unfortunately the title escapes me but I know I've posted the name of the book and other books he wrote in the Spanish Influenza thread on this site.

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5670/121232.html?1224040940

I'm glad that there was a tribute in Voyage Magazine to the Hoehings.
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I didn't know that Mr. Hoehiing had a ship sunk from under him. That most of been a memorable occasion. Too bad the Hoehings and Walter Lord never calibrated on a book. That would of been icing on the cake for me.​
 
May 27, 2007
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I also wish William Macquitty had done more historical movies like Titanic. I'd love to see his version of the Us Senate hearings or the Last Voyage Of the Lusitania.
 

Paul Lee

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Re: Californian

Quote:
If only he had gotten to finish it. Even if it tells us nothing new W. Lord is so entertaining to read. I love his writing style and I could see him saying "Putting old wine in new bottles" about old information, which sounds like something he'd say.
Unquote

You could always satisfy yourself with my literary offering. A lot of my research is based on Lord's papers, and his communications with Reade, de Groot, Carrothers, Harrison etc.

Paul

http://www.paullee.com/book_details.php
 
May 27, 2007
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quote:

You could always satisfy yourself with my literary offering. A lot of my research is based on Lord's papers, and his communications with Reade, de Groot, Carrothers, Harrison etc.
Thanks for the link, Paul. I will look over the site and see what I can find out. I gotta watch my spending alas because of the economy plus Christmas Presents and the sad fact that I come from a long line of stingy, miserly Swedish and Danish stock.
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But hopefully I can read your book though a library loan out.
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It looks interesting. I hope "The Indifferent Stranger" is doing well. Lemme pester one of my brothers or Sisters to get it for me at X-Mas.​
 

Paul Lee

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May 27, 2007
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quote:

Took enough time to compile and write!
Sure Paul, but you can be proud of the finished product. Thanks for the link on Lord Macquitty.

Also have you seen the Article on the Californian on this site called "The Californian A Reality Check". It's pretty good in stating how even if the Californian had gotten to the Titanic in time without striking a berg the Californian might not of been able to do much good in saving the passengers of Titanic but the if the Californian had sent lifeboats out then maybe a few Titanic Passengers would of been saved.​
 

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