Titanic Keel-laying date


Derek Kaye

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Jul 7, 2007
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I would be inclined (with no other evidence), to agree with the Times, as a: it is the earlier date, and b: it is a respected source.

I am just speculating here, but Titanic was launched on the 31st May 1911. Perhaps this is where the 31st has erroneously come from?

Perhaps someone with more information could clear this up?
 
S

Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Mark and Derek,

If the March 31st date is incorrect, then the "Mother of All Primary Sources," H&W's own ledgers, are incorrect as well. As far as I've been able to find, there is one document belonging to PRONI -- some sort of ledger kept by the City of Belfast -- which has the 22nd as the keel-laying date. Every H&W ledger I've seen, and of the excerpts I've seen reprinted from the same indicate March 31st.

Mark, have you found any mention of this event in the NYT? More importantly, how about the local Belfast papers? Their readers would have had far more than a passing interest in any such activities at the shipyards, especially since the announcement of the beginning of every newbuilding meant anywhere from another several months to several years of worry-free employment for so many of Belfast's men and their dependants.

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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Scott, there doesn't seem to be anything in NYT on either date, and I don't have access to any Belfast papers here in northern New Jersey.

Seeing your message, I now have a vague recollection that someone---Jim Carlisle, perhaps---wrote something similar about the H&W records on one of the Titanic mailing lists mailing lists a few years back. That was before I knew of The Times' article, which I first found last night.

P.S. The year I had put on the article transcribed above originally read "1908," and I've now corrected it to "1909." It was the date, not the year, that raised the red flag here.
 
Sep 28, 2002
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Northern Ireland
The date is 32st March 1909. Scott has rightly said that H&W's own ledger states 22nd March 1909.

Look at the ledger once again and you will see a 9 beside the date which means it was wrongly entered or that the plan was for 22nd March and due to unforseen circumstances the dates has had to have been moved and the ledger rectified by either either writing in this case 9 or earlier would have been -2 (example).
 
Sep 28, 2002
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The report in the Times was written in Dublin. Are we sure the reporter was in Belfast?

Just found out: 22nd March was the date that the preparation for the keel laying started, i.e. the keel blocks started to be put in position.
In other words, 100 years ago today.
 

Mark Baber

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Hello, Jim---

Look at the paragraph immediately the one concerning Titanic. It has a Belfast dateline, which I took to apply to the Titanic item as well. That was SOP for The Times in those days; the "IRELAND" column itself bore a Dublin dateline, with others appearing farther down the column if there were items not originating there.

Although the 23 March items don't so state, I've seen other items of the same era which begin "Our Belfast correspondent reports..." or some such.
 
Sep 28, 2002
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Yes exactly, I think the Dublin journalist got it wrong, as did the Harland & Wolff clerk who made the entry in the book. The preparation for the laying of the keel started on the 22nd March.

The actual laying of the keel took place on the 31st March, hence in the H&W book there is a 9 beside the 22nd March. As it is the first piece of the Titanic was put in place on the 31st, then that is the official date.

Here's a photo of what the blocks looked like. This one was made 100 years later where the very first block was set.
 
Jan 29, 2001
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James...thanks for the keel laying blocks image,
myself a 20 yr. Carpenter, and interested in all type of woods, is curious to know what type wood are the blocks? They appear very dense....perhaps teak?

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 

david wilson

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Feb 17, 2004
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As far as i know the blocks were either oak or iroka.The bottom & top block were chamfered to compensate for the declivity of the slipway,which was 3/8" to the foot.The top block, or cap,was sacrificed during the launch.
regards.
seven degrees west.
dw.
 
A

Alexander John Cooley

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Is it me or are they building a new Olympic Class set?
 
Jun 13, 2006
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100 years since our great big beautiful - and highly psychotic - sweetheart of a thing began her life. The countdown to 15 April 2012 begins here...
 

Dieter Klimow

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Sep 24, 2006
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Let them continue with the construction, the blocks are already there. In 2011 we will come and see the launch.

They may miss the gantry, though:

hwgantry.jpg


Unfortunately, the shops and sheds that might have been of use have been demolished:

hwempty.jpg


And of course before work can commence they should excavate the lower end of the slipways, whose slope has been filled up to create a parking area:

hwslipway.jpg


hwslipwayend.jpg
 

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