Was the ProtestantCatholic divide to blame


Jamie Bryant

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If you take Titanic's hull number and show it to a mirror the reflection will spell NO POPE. This was seen as a joke to the majority of H&W workers, but offended most of the Catholic workers, who promptly requested that the number be changed. They were refused. The fact that the ship was going to an English line only made matters worse. There are accounts from workers who built her, stating that many of the Catholics deliberately did a shoddy job on the ship, some even going so far as sabotage! eg bang rivets in only half the way etc. Does anyone else know about this?
 

Adam Leet

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"If you take Titanic's hull number and show it to a mirror the reflection will spell NO POPE."

This is one of the easier myths to disspell. Her hull number was "401." I suppose, in leetspeak, it would spell out "AOL", but I digress.
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Adam
 
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Hi Jamie!

You asked: Does anyone else know about this?

Yes, that Olympic did remarkably well for a 'sabotaged' ship!

And Titanic for that matter (admittedly not for long, yet the sinking was an extreme experience).

Best,

Mark.
 

Inger Sheil

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Jamie, could you provide any reliable account from any source that suggests that Catholic workers at H&W sabotaged the Titanic? Sectarian feeling was running high against Catholics in Belfast with Home Rule being a hot topic, but I can't recall any accounts of 'sabotage' by Catholics in the Yard. There were possibly some instances of anti-Catholic slogans being chalked up - there is an account of Thomas Andrews expressing his disgust at these - and later in the year Catholic workers were expelled from the yards, but I don't recall seeing any resentment suggested on the part of Catholic workers that the ship was being constructed for an English line. As all Ireland was then (and Northern Ireland is to this day) part of the British empire, and most of the ships were being constructed for 'English' lines, it would seem strange to target the Titanic (and not, say, the Olympic - as Mark implies in his response), particularly as the 'No Pope' rumour is as credible as the stories of a cursed mummy on board.

How was this sabotage to work? Relying on a chance encounter with an iceberg and damage of the specific nature that sank the ship?
 
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>>The fact that the ship was going to an English line only made matters worse.<<

Sez who???

Harland & Wolff had a long and proud history of building ships for English owned shipping lines. Why would any of the Olympics being built for White Star ruffle any feathers?

>>There are accounts from workers who built her, stating that many of the Catholics deliberately did a shoddy job on the ship, some even going so far as sabotage! eg bang rivets in only half the way etc. <<

Sources please. Where is this stuff coming from?

And if anybody was trying to saboutage the ships, they did a lousy job of it. Check out the wreck. The vast majority of the rivets are right where the riveters left them. As to the ones that aren't, remember that there's the small matter of hitting an iceberg at 21 knots to contend with as well as impact with the bottom which would tend to loosen things up a bit. Further, the Olympic and Britannic seems never to have had any unusual problems with same in service beyond the normal wear and tear.
 

Jamie Bryant

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Adam, 401 was Titanic's keel number not her hull number.
Mark, Olympic's hull number was not an anti Catholic slogan if positioned in front of a mirror. Therefore the Catholics would not have had a motive.
Inger, many books contain first hand accounts of workers who said they knew colleagues who felt that H&W were not taking the "NO POPE thing" seriously enough. Also the Catholics politically believed in one Ireland. Therefore they did not recognize, as much, that Britain was in control.
Michael, I only used rivets as an example, a metaphore. The accounts only briefly describe what several workers did. Also she hit the iceberg at 22.5 knots!
Again I repeat the Titanic was the only liner targetted, as she had a "dodgy" hull number.That's try not to get caught up in the history of Ireland. I'm mainly saying that A) Catholics felt insulted over H&W's lack of seriousness in the No Pope coicidence. B)The fact that she was being built for an English, and therefore Protestant line only gave the Catholics more of a motive. I hope that I have cleared things up a bit.

Jamie M. Bryant
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>>Adam, 401 was Titanic's keel number not her hull number. <<

Nope. That was the hull number assigned by Harland and Wolff.

>>Mark, Olympic's hull number was not an anti Catholic slogan if positioned in front of a mirror. Therefore the Catholics would not have had a motive. <<

Niether is 401.

>>Inger, many books contain first hand accounts of workers who said they knew colleagues who felt that H&W were not taking the "NO POPE thing" seriously enough.<<

So ??? She asked you: "Jamie, could you provide any reliable account from any source that suggests that Catholic workers at H&W sabotaged the Titanic? "

Well...can you?

>>Michael, I only used rivets as an example, a metaphore.<<

No you didn't. What you actually said was "There are accounts from workers who built her, stating that many of the Catholics deliberately did a shoddy job on the ship, some even going so far as sabotage! eg bang rivets in only half the way etc."

>>Again I repeat the Titanic was the only liner targetted, as she had a "dodgy" hull number.<<

So what? Repeating an assertion that has not stood up under the scrutiny of historical research doesn't make it so.

>>That's try not to get caught up in the history of Ireland. <<

Sorry can't be done as it's all interlinked. You cannot go into one aspect of history without critically examining everything else that led up to it. It was all part and parcel to the attitudes of the day, none of which existed in a vacuum.

>>Also she hit the iceberg at 22.5 knots!<<

Guess again. From the U.S. Senate Inquiry Final report
quote:

The speed of the Titanic was gradually increased after leaving Queenstown. The first day's run was 464 miles, the second day's run was 519 miles, the third day's run was 546 miles. Just prior to the collision the ship was making her maximum speed of the voyage - not less than 21 knots, or 24 1/4 miles per hour.
From the BOT Inquiry
quote:

The entire passage had been made at high speed, though not at the ship's maximum, and this speed was never reduced until the collision was unavoidable. At 10 p.m. the ship was registering 45 knots every two hours by the Cherub log. (Hichens, 965)
The quartermaster on watch aft, when the "Titanic" struck, states that the log, reset at noon, then registered 260 knots, (Rowe, 17608) and the fourth officer, when working up the position from 7.30 p.m. to the time of the collision, states he estimated the "Titanic's" speed as 22 knots, (Boxhall, 15645) and this is also borne out by evidence that the engines were running continuously at 75 revolutions.
Notice that nobody mentions 22.5.

A moot point however as 1 knot difference either way is not enough to make a difference at all. When you slam 50,000 long tons into something that ain't budging no matter how hard you try, you're going to put yourself in the Hurt Locker big time.

>>A) Catholics felt insulted over H&W's lack of seriousness in the No Pope coicidence.<<

Already asked and answered. This thing is contemporary urban legend and has long been discredited as such.

>>B)The fact that she was being built for an English, and therefore Protestant line only gave the Catholics more of a motive. <<<

Assumes facts not in evidence. I've already asked for a source to back this up as the actual condition of the ship doesn't support it. (Are you going to offer any? Proper cites please!) Despite all the abuse heaped upon her to the point where she took a nosedive to the bottom of the Atlantic, overall, she's held up very well.​
 

Adam Leet

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I can't remember where I heard it (it *may* have been Cameron's Titanic Explorer CD-ROM), but weren't Catholics prohibited from working at H&W? I'm not putting much credence on it, but it's something that came to mind after going over this thread again.


Adam
 

Inger Sheil

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quote:

Inger, many books contain first hand accounts of workers who said they knew colleagues who felt that H&W were not taking the "NO POPE thing" seriously enough. Also the Catholics politically believed in one Ireland. Therefore they did not recognize, as much, that Britain was in control.
Jamie, again - please cite specific sources that make these claims. 'Many books' is not a citation. Stephen Cameron, for example, in his book 'Belfast's Own', which contains quite a lot of data concerning the building of the ships, does not provide any reliable accounts along these lines.

Be careful of making sweeping political statements, btw, about the situation in Ireland in 1912. Although the North was making great political rumblings in the face of Home Rule (and Bonar Law held his monster anti-Home Rule rally on the eve of the Titanic's sailing), Ireland was not yet politically partitioned. That did not happen until 1921 and the Anglo-Irish treaty.

Also, please provide your source for claiming that 401 was the Titanic's 'keel' number and not her 'hull' number. Where exactly is the source for the 'NO POPE' (390904) claim?

Provide a source for the claim that the Roman Catholics felt a grievance about the ship being built for an English line. As I said before - such was the case with the majority of the ships being built at H&W.

If anything, this sounds like the echoes of anti-Catholic propoganda - the idea that 'Papists' would be superstituous enough to rise up against the 'No Pope' number...or that there might be Fenians amongst them who would deliberately sabotage the ship!

But where are the origins of these claims? Not paraphrased - specific names, dates and sources, please. We can't meaningfully discuss these rumours when they remain so vague and unsourced.

Adam, Catholic workers were - at various times - expelled from Harland & Wolff. According to Tim Pat Coogan, in spite of the fact that Lord Pirrie was a Liberal and a supporter of Home Rule, Catholic workmen were driven out of the Belfast shipyards on the 12 July 1912 (Tim Pat Coogan, The Irish Civil War, p. 75)​
 

Dave Gittins

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Further to Inger's post, there were not many Catholics in H & W by 1912. Those who were there would have had the sense to keep their heads down but at least some were accepted by the other workers. In the affair mentioned by Inger, I've read somewhere, I think in the contemporary press, that Protestant workers defended their Catholic mates during the violence, which mainly came from outside the yard.

As to the 'NO POPE' silliness, the only sure fact is that the tale was known in Belfast in the 1950s. After he wrote A Night to Remember, Walter Lord received letters about it. When the tale began is another thing. Regrettably, the tale was taken up by Eaton and Haas, who for a time were mistaken for historians.
 

Jamie Bryant

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It's simply general knowledge that 401 was Titanic's keel number. Do I have to quote everyting I say, no one else seems to!
Anyway it was something I read in Riddle of the Titanic (yes Michael, i'm aware that you disapprove)but if you read it, it will clearly say the following :
"The NO POPE incident was laughed off by the majority of the workers, but minority groups of Catholics took great offence. It caused several individuals to do a shoddy job and even go as far as sabotage the gret liner"

Further more i did not make political statements. Everything i shared with you was from the book. I'm no anti catholic, I AM A CATHOLIC myself. I first learned this information from the book and thought i'd see what you all thought about it.
Jamie Bryant
 
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Anything learned from "Riddle of the Titanic" is not learning anything at all, Jamie.

Bear in mind that what was being asked for was the source of the claim. Not the one who parrots it. Where did Gardiner get his information? I'd be especially interested to find out what backs up his claim...as in primary sources.

FWIW, there is absolutely nothing I've seen to suggest that the workers did a sloppy job. This was a day and age when people took great pride in their work. The navigation of the ship was sloppy, but the workers who built her couldn't control that.

>>It's simply general knowledge that 401 was Titanic's keel number. <<

Harland and Wolff would differ with you on that. Please cite a primary source that contradicts this.
 

Inger Sheil

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Jamie, I've never suggested you were anti-Catholic. When I said that this sounded like the echoes of anti-Catholic propoganda, I was talking about the rumours. Of course, that's pure speculation on my part - we have yet to identify the exact source for these rumours (although, as Dave points out, we know that these furpheys were circulating decades ago...as was the mummy story).

Please don't feel singled out by the requirement to cite sources for claims. It is something we all have to do as a basic tenant of research and discussion. If anyone on the board makes an unsupported claim in a debate, they will be asked for a cite. In order to discuss a contentious issue in any meaningful way, we need to be as specific as possible about the nature and source of the data being debated.
quote:

It's simply general knowledge that 401 was Titanic's keel number.
What was actually questioned whas your statement that:
quote:

401 was Titanic's keel number not her hull number.
By implication, you are suggesting that the (390904) is her 'hull' number. What is the source for this distinction? Have a look at Belfast's Own, for example, and you'll find an entire chapter titled The Construction of SS 401, because this was the vessel's shipyard number. What we want is a souce for the 390904 number.

Riddle of the Titanic is a source that will get you 'laughed out of court'. But even if you don't share the absolute contempt that virtually all serious researchers have for this book, it is not remotely useful as backup for claims about 'sabotage' or Catholic sentiment in the yard. This book is a secondary source, and Gardiner and Van der Vat do not provide citations for their claim. Unsupported secondary sources are useless in this sort of debate - they do nothing more than perpetuate myths and misinformation. Where are the primary sources for this claim?

Dave, your post tempts me to go down to Colindale and fish out some of the July 1912 Irish papers - I'd love to read some accounts of the nature you describe...it would be pleasant to think that there were decent people who stood against the sectarianism of the day.​
 

Dave Gittins

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Inger, I'll hunt this up. Unfortunately I haven't the money to get everything I happen to spot. I think I can get this item from a local library.

The distinction between 'keel' and 'hull' is artificial. Ships are sometimes referred to as 'keels' in some traditions and in poetry. If somebody says her keel number was 401, it's the same thing as the hull number.
 

Jamie Bryant

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Wow, I nerver knew that you all felt strongly about Riddle of Titanic. Although in both Don Lynch's and Ken Marschall's respective books, they talk about Titanic's construction, and both say that "the first plates of Titanic's keel 401 were layed...." Olympic's keel was 400. Although their hulls, which were built later on, were both different numbers to that of her keel.

I guess that Gardiner & Van Der Vat were wrong. Though what they said was believable, they did not give any sources themselves, they just said "many accounts". It was probably just their hypothesis.
Thank You All for your warnings (particulary Inger) Hope to have some more interesting threads on different topics with you all.

Jamie Bryant
 

Jamie Bryant

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RE: SPEED
The British Enquiry differs Inger. That report was just bits of eyewitness accounts glued together. Different crew/passengers say different things, but that's just the beauty of history
J.B
 

Inger Sheil

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Happy to have helped caution you about Riddle of the Titanic, Jamie - Gardiner's follow up book, Titanic: The Ship that Never Sank is even more execrable! If you're interested in the construction of the ship, and the men that worked on it, I recommend Stephen Cameron's book (which I've cited a couple of times in this thread).

I'm not quite sure why you've directed your commented headed 'speed' to me - have me thoroughly confused as to what you're referring! Are you perhaps talking about a point Michael and not I brought up? You are correct - there are divergant accounts...there's been a lot of discussion about speed etc, but I haven't addressed it in this thread
happy.gif


Dave, please don't go to any expense - although I'd be very interested if you happen to come across some material on the expulsions. I seem to recall that Paul Louden-Brown wrote an interesting article for The Commutator that touched on the Irish issues brought up in this thread, but would have to fish up my copy to double check. It's worth at least a cursory glance next time I'm out at the Newspaper Library - I know Senan Molony has done extensive work in the Irish newspapers of the era extending to many months after the disaster, so will mention it to him as well.

If anyone reads TNT in London they may have caught the article on Belfast Murals - it suggested that since the Good Friday Agreement new murals going up have tended to be less belligerant, with more of an emphasis on the desire for peace and other themes such as the Titanic and Greg Best. The article also had a full page, rather haunting black and white image of the H&W yards.
 

Jamie Bryant

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Woops, my apolligies this thread hasn't been my best. Probably because everyone writes essays for posts, making the author's name and the post itself mix up (sometimes).
Thanks Again
Jamie
 
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>>Wow, I nerver knew that you all felt strongly about Riddle of Titanic. Although in both Don Lynch's and Ken Marschall's respective books, they talk about Titanic's construction, and both say that "the first plates of Titanic's keel 401 were layed...." Olympic's keel was 400. Although their hulls, which were built later on, were both different numbers to that of her keel.<<

Jamie, as Dave Gittins explained, the terms hull and keel number were used interchangably. They are exactly the same thing. You may be thinking of the registry number which was very different from the hull numbers assigned perhaps.

>> guess that Gardiner & Van Der Vat were wrong. Though what they said was believable,<<

Of course it's beleivable. That has nothing to do with whether or not it's factual!!! Quite a few scams are believable, which is why the con artists who pull them off are so successful at it.

>> they did not give any sources themselves, they just said "many accounts".<<

And that should be a red flag right there. Bona fide historians give the specifics of their sources.

>> It was probably just their hypothesis. <<

Or a nice catchy line that was useful to sell books. Mind you, it need not have anything to do with reality just so long as it sounds credible to the uninformed and sells books.
 

david wilson

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I'd like to respond to Jamie's posting "rivets not fully banged up".Firstly,tradesmen in those days were real craftsmen,not like the garbage we get today,a serious lack of pride!.Secondly,rivetters were on strict piece work.All his rivets would have been counted by the rivet counter & everyone of them tested with a toffee hammer,just like the wheel tapper in the railyard.If the counter didn't like the sound of it,his paint boy painted a ring round it & out she came.The last thing in the world the rivetter wanted was to retrace his steps.This was an affront to his ability & it cost him money.
I think you can bin that theory!
regards.
dw.
 

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