Tours of the Titanic before leaving Belfast


alan epps

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My Grandmother spoke of a tour she experienced of the Titanic before it sailed out of Belfast, thanks to her Uncle who was involved with the Ships construction.

Doe anyone know of such tours being made available to the public.

Could this have been a special circumstance?
 

alan epps

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Oct 11, 2019
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Rockport Ontario, Canada
Titanic no but on there was a public inspection for Olympic on 27 March 1911, 2 days before her sea trials.
Using the British Newspaper Archive website, I was able to locate an article in the Belfast News-Letter dated April 1st 1912, under the heading, " THE DEPARTURE OF THE TITANIC"... it goes on to say " by special invitation. a number of guests".... "had the opportunity of inspecting the liner on Saturday last" ( March 30th), " and naturally this privilege was highly appreciated. The visitors were afforded every possible facility in their tour through the huge vessel, and needless to say, they were deeply impressed by the immense size of the Titanic, which certainly justifies her name"...
My Grandmother spoke of the luxurious interiors, such as she had never seen before... in particular the Grand Staircase ( she was almost 8 years old at the time ).
 
May 3, 2005
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We're there visitor tours of ships such as Titanic when they were in ports between arrivals and departures in 1912 , for example , during the time of Titanic ?

I took a vacation trip primarily for a visit to the New York World's Fair in 1965.

While I was there , I had the opportunity to visit RMS Queen Mary for a very inexpensive admission fee. You were allowed to visit just about any place on board the ship except for some of the public areas such as the First Class Dining Salon, but free to look at any cabins that were open to the public. One result of that visit was the. opportunity to see Second Class C-119, which I had planned for a future trip to England. After looking at that cabin I cancelled those plans after I had looked inside C-119 ! LOL.

I think the admissions fees went to good cause, the Seamen's Relief Fund or something like that.

I also visited SS France.

Were there such tours of Titanic at Southampton ?

However I redeemed myself later for a family vacation trip later on which we stayed at Hotel Queen Mary in what had been cabin A-115 and had dinner at Sir Winston's, took a guided tour and enjoyed it immensely !
 
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Ada

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Sep 14, 1998
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My Grandmother spoke of a tour she experienced of the Titanic before it sailed out of Belfast, thanks to her Uncle who was involved with the Ships construction.

Doe anyone know of such tours being made available to the public.

Could this have been a special circumstance?

I know there were no "open to the general public" tour as there was with Olympic.

But there were a number of special guests that got to visit and see the Titanic inside while she was in Southampton when some of the passengers had already boarded, but before the voyage. I know Norman Wilkinson (the person who painted the paintings for the Olympic's and Titanic's first class smoking lounges) was then on the Titanic to have such a "tour" and he left the ship before it sailed off.
Let me quote just a very short part of "On a Sea of Glass":

"Among the actual passengers, there were also a number of visitors who –although they were not there to see friends or relatives off – took the opportunity to come aboard, as well. For most of the public, this was the first such opportunity since the vessel had docked in Southampton a week before. There were plenty of people enthused enough about the ship to make the trip to the waterfront, or perhaps even up the gangplank.
In amongst the visitors was noted marine artist Norman Wilkinson (...) Captain Smith gave Wilkinson a warm welcome, but had to admit that he was too busy to conduct them on a personal tour of the liner. Instead, he asked one of the pursers to show them around. Wilkinson thought the tour was ‘thorough’ (...)"

So it is possible that your grandmother was part of such a "tour". It sounds all the more likely as both her uncle and Norman Wilkinson were people involved in the construction and design of the ship.

The only part that doesn't fit is that these known pre-departure "tours" were done in Southampton, not Belfast.
 
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I know there were no "open to the general public" tour as there was with Olympic.

But there were a number of special guests that got to visit and see the Titanic inside while she was in Southampton when some of the passengers had already boarded, but before the voyage. I know Norman Wilkinson (the person who painted the paintings for the Olympic's and Titanic's first class smoking lounges) was then on the Titanic to have such a "tour" and he left the ship before it sailed off.
Let me quote just a very short part of "On a Sea of Glass":

"Among the actual passengers, there were also a number of visitors who –although they were not there to see friends or relatives off – took the opportunity to come aboard, as well. For most of the public, this was the first such opportunity since the vessel had docked in Southampton a week before. There were plenty of people enthused enough about the ship to make the trip to the waterfront, or perhaps even up the gangplank.
In amongst the visitors was noted marine artist Norman Wilkinson (...) Captain Smith gave Wilkinson a warm welcome, but had to admit that he was too busy to conduct them on a personal tour of the liner. Instead, he asked one of the pursers to show them around. Wilkinson thought the tour was ‘thorough’ (...)"

So it is possible that your grandmother was part of such a "tour". It sounds all the more likely as both her uncle and Norman Wilkinson were people involved in the construction and design of the ship.

The only part that doesn't fit is that these known pre-departure "tours" were done in Southampton, not Belfast.
Were there any tours of this type of Titanic done when the ship was at Southampton ?
Also were tours planned for when the ship was as at New York ?

Just a couple of trivia items on those tours of mine in 1965.
SS France was one of the newest ships, just beginning in service.
RMS Queen Mary was one of the oldest, nearing the end of its service.
Quite a contrast.

As best I remember , cabins were open for inspection on Queen Mary, but not on public area such as Dinng Salons and Theaters.
Just the opposite on France , Theater, etc open but not cabins.

As best I remember Queen Mary and France were the only two ships offering visits at those particular dates.
There were number of other ships in port at time.
SS Rafaello was also one of the newest ships but was not open to the public .

I hadn't actually booked passage on Queen Mary.
C-119 was just on a list of those available.
But one look at C-119 was enough for me . LOL
Wonder if anyone else has ever had that experience ?
 
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Seumas

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Were there any tours of this type of Titanic done when the ship was at Southampton ?
Also were tours planned for when the ship was as at New York ?

The press were definitely given some kind of tour at Southampton.

I'm not 100% sure on this but I seem to recall that non-passengers were allowed to board the ship to see their friends and loved ones off but had to go ashore about ten or fifteen minutes prior to departure.

One of the last UK combat veterans of the First World War, Arthur Halestrap, claimed that when he was a teenager he went aboard the Titanic at Southampton and had a look around. He never said anything about seeing off friends or family however. Part of me does wonder whether he may have gotten confused with a visit to the Olympic though.
 
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May 3, 2005
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The press were definitely given some kind of tour at Southampton.

I'm not 100% sure on this but I seem to recall that non-passengers were allowed to board the ship to see their friends and loved ones off but had to go ashore about ten or fifteen minutes prior to departure.

One of the last UK combat veterans of the First World War, Arthur Halestrap, claimed that when he was a teenager he went aboard the Titanic at Southampton and had a look around. He never said anything about seeing off friends or family however. Part of me does wonder whether he may have gotten confused with a visit to the Olympic though.,
Those tours on Queen Mary and France were between sailing dates so I don't know if they were open up to sailing time as mentioned in your post. Otherwise there didn't seem to be any limits on how long you spent on your visit except for some closing times in the afternoons or evenings of course . Just a bit of curiosity ..........Were there any cases of stoaways of visitors who had overstayed their visits ?

I would also assume that there might not have been tours offered on any ships at Cherbourg and Queenstown because of shorter times in Port , not being next to docks, etc. ?
 

Seumas

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Those tours on Queen Mary and France were between sailing dates so I don't know if they were open up to sailing time as mentioned in your post. Otherwise there didn't seem to be any limits on how long you spent on your visit except for some closing times in the afternoons or evenings of course . Just a bit of curiosity ..........Were there any cases of stoaways of visitors who had overstayed their visits ?

I would also assume that there might not have been tours offered on any ships at Cherbourg and Queenstown because of shorter times in Port , not being next to docks, etc. ?

Page 75 of "On A Sea of Glass" mentions bells being rung on April 10th to warm visitors that they had to go ashore.

A young lad who was delivering typewriters to the ship almost got caught aboard and was given an earful as he ran down the gangplank.

The pedlars were allowed aboard for a short time at Cobh to sell their products.
 

Ada

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Were there any tours of this type of Titanic done when the ship was at Southampton ?
Also were tours planned for when the ship was as at New York ?

I'll try to be as precise here as I can and that means I will need to define 4 types of tours:

1. An official, grand "open day for the public" event organized by the line and advertised as such. This is what was available for the Olympic. No such event was planned nor took place for the Titanic, neither in Belfast, nor Southampton, nor in New York.
Some sort of official public tour event for the Titanic was planned only after she would have completed her return voyage from America to Britain.
The reason behind it is that because of issues with the final fitting out and the coal strike, Titanic's maiden voyage was already pushed back. The White Star Line did not want to dilly-dally any more just to have a PR event.

2. There were a few entirely unofficial visits of people to the Titanic that took place in March in Belfast. From what I know, these were families of the Titanic's crew or families of the various engineers and workers that were working on the Titanic. Thomas Millar is one such individual who we know took his family on such an entirely unofficial tour in Belfast.

3. Southampton, "semi-official-private-invite-only" tours that took place after the passengers got on in Southampton. There were not publicly announced company events. Rather, the tours were just for a few special VIPs that were lead on these tours by crew members. I have no idea how many people went on such a tour, the only named person I know of that left an account about this was the Titanic painter Norman Wilkinson.

4. Not so much a tour, but there were some people in Southampton who came onboard with the passengers and took a short sneak-peek, probably pretending to be friends or families of passengers.

If I had to guess, Alan's grandmother was probably on the "type 2" or "type 3" tour.
 
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I should probably make a correction to my posts in regard to Queen Mary and France.
I think the proper term should really be "visit" instead of "tour".
This may not be correct since I have always thought of tours. In the sense of "guided tours" and those of mine were of course not "guided tours" but more just like "visits" .
So the question was something on the order of whether there were offerings of this sort open to the general public at large for an admission fee to Titanic ?

I can highly recommend the "guided tour " on Hotel Queen Mary.
Also the "visit" to RMS Queen Mary was certainly well worth the small admission fee even with the disappointment.

I am also just wondering if there was such a great difference on Queen Mary between First Class (example : A-115) and. Second Class (example : C-119) if Third. Class would have been like the old Steerage Class ?

But I would say they were a bit more luxurious than those on USS McCord (DD-534), USNS General Daniel I. Sultan (TAP-120), USS Bryce Canyon (AD-36) , USS Sicily (CVE-118) and USS Kenneth Whiting. ,(AV-14) , ships on which I have been a passenger.....in that order.
LOL
 

B-rad

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Using the British Newspaper Archive website, I was able to locate an article in the Belfast News-Letter dated April 1st 1912, under the heading, " THE DEPARTURE OF THE TITANIC"... it goes on to say " by special invitation. a number of guests".... "had the opportunity of inspecting the liner on Saturday last" ( March 30th), " and naturally this privilege was highly appreciated. The visitors were afforded every possible facility in their tour through the huge vessel, and needless to say, they were deeply impressed by the immense size of the Titanic, which certainly justifies her name"...
My Grandmother spoke of the luxurious interiors, such as she had never seen before... in particular the Grand Staircase ( she was almost 8 years old at the time ).
Thanks for finding this article... I took screenshot of it for everyone else can read it. Here also is a sight about the 'Patriotic' : Harland and Wolff - Shipbuilding and Engineering Works

Titanic April 1st article.png
 
May 3, 2005
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Hi
Thanks for finding this article... I took screenshot of it for everyone else can read it. Here also is a sight about the 'Patriotic' : Harland and Wolff - Shipbuilding and Engineering Works

View attachment 45281
Just a question on "wages bill for 28,000 (Pounds)" for "15,000 men employed here" comes out to only about 1.87 (Pounds) per man.
Of course the exchange rate would have been higher in 1912, but even considering that .
I found one source of 1 Pound=$4.87, which comes out to only $9.11weekly wage average per man ?
This seems like a rather low weekly wage ?
Or were wages really that low at H & W in 1912 ?
 
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B-rad

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Hi
Just a question on "wages bill for 28,000 (Pounds)" for "15,000 men employed here" comes out to only about 1.87 (Pounds) per man.
Of course the exchange rate would have been higher in 1912, but even considering that, this seems like a rather low weekly wage ?
Or were wages really that low at H & W in 1912 ?

The publication American Marine Engineer would write, “So vast and comprehensive and undertaking as this constitutes the very backbone of the industrial being of Belfast, as will be seen from the fact that the Harland and Wolff employees number over 12,000 while the weekly wage bill reaches the enormous dimensions of $100,000." Which at an exchange rate of $4.87 per pound (1912 rat) was around £20,534.00. A 1902 (when H&W employed 9-10 thousand workers) hearing states the wages being, “Platers, 39s; riveters, 36s; joiners, 38s, 3d; smiths, 35s; fitters, 37s; shipwrights (skilled labour), 38s, 3d; and so on…”
Here is a great article also about shipbuilding wages:

 

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