Which tugs were used to launch The Titanic on her maiden voyage?


Saints Fan

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My grandfather worked on the Tugs in Southampton Water in the early part of the 20th century. He lived in Southampton from about 1900 until his death in 1932 . My mother was born in Southampton in 1912.

The photograph attached shows him and my mother on a tug in about 1920 – 1922 as this looks as though she was about 8 or 10 years old at the time the photograph was taken. We believe that the name of the tug in the photograph was Hercules. The H E R letters are clear. The C is obscured by the lines over the side of the vessel. We believe that this tug was one of those that helped the R.M.S. Titanic out of her berth prior to sailing on April 10 1912.

Is there any confirmation of my grandfather was in fact working on this or another tug at this time? His name was Samuel McDonald. Any information about his job at that time would be interesting to know. Any photographs of the Hercules or other details of my grandfather’s employment would help me in filling out details of his story.
 

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chrisd

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Hi Rob,

Thanks for that information, i have really struggled to get such details on the net.
I am sure that my Neptune is the same tug because the dates are exactly right and i look forward to any other information that can be supplied by members.

Good man, thankyou! Regatds, Jim.

Hi

I have seen many references to six steam tugboats having aided Titanic on its departure from Southampton, Albert Edward, Hercules, Vulcan, Ajax, Hector and Neptune, and I suspect that most have reiterated previously published information stretching right back to the original research. However, I have evidence of another steam tugboat called Samson (H & W 1910) (not to be confused with H & W's crane nor the Norwegian sealer of the same name) having aided Titanic during the near collision with the SS New York, but can find no reference to it anywhere, I am wondering if anyone has any knowledge of this, or if it an unrecorded / unknown part of the history of that event.

Many thanks
Chris
 
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I have seen many references to six steam tugboats having aided Titanic on its departure from Southampton, Albert Edward, Hercules, Vulcan, Ajax, Hector and Neptune, and I suspect that most have reiterated previously published information stretching right back to the original research. However, I have evidence of another steam tugboat called Samson (H & W 1910) (not to be confused with H & W's crane nor the Norwegian sealer of the same name) having aided Titanic during the near collision with the SS New York, but can find no reference to it anywhere,

What is that evidence?
Never hear of that tug during departure. H&W 1910, you mean build by H&W in 1910? I am afraid I can not find that name on the list with ships build by H&W during that time.
 
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Saints Fan

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Hi, I am new to this forum only havng discovered it a few weeks ago. I posted the material below previously but probably didn't put it in the correct space:

My grandfather, Samuel McDonald, worked on the Tugs in Southampton Water in the early part of the 20th century. He lived in Southampton from about 1900 until his death in 1935 . My mother was born in Southampton in March 1912.

The photograph attached shows him and my mother on a tug in about 1920 – 1922 as this looks as though she was about 8 or 10 years old at the time the photograph was taken. We believe that the name of the tug in the photograph was Hercules. The H E R letters are clear. The C is obscured by the lines over the side of the vessel.

Is there anyway to confirm who the crew members were on the tugs when the Titanic sailed from Southampton?



607. Sam McDonald far R. Chrissie 2 from L front Row So'ton Water.jpg
 
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chrisd

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Thank you Ioannis Georgiou for your interest in my posting on March 4th and apologies for the delay in getting back to this forum.

You are absolutely right, I have been aware for some time that there is no reference to a tug 'Samson' of that period in the published lists of Harland & Wolff (H & W) ships, although I do wonder how comprehensive those lists or indeed the H & W records are. Another scenario of course is that a tug named Samson may have been built by another company and acquired by H & W in 1910(?)

You ask what is the evidence. This falls into two categories as follows:

1. A blog for 'Titanic Station' (Titanic Station posted )on Monday 27th October 2008 titled 'Titanic's Departure' which referred to the near collison of Titanic with the SS New York and stated that:

"Two tugs (Samson and Hercules) were able to hold the New York back".

The person who wrote the blog (Daniel, location Clute, Texas, USA) claims to have got a lot of information from books about Titanic, but I do not know where the original reference to a Samson tug may have came from.

2. Now the interesting bit - I have an old ships wheel (helm) which has professionally stamped / impressed writing in the wooden Felloe each side of the metal ring which reads:

"STEAM TUG SAMSON / BELFAST" and "H & W T6 1910".

The applied block capital stamped (impressed) writing could be easily missed, it is small (about a quarter of an inch high), discreet and worn, and needed white powder to bring it out to a be readable against the golden brown colour of the wood.

The 'T6' is interesting - I wonder what it means, could this refer to the sixth tug to be designated by H & W to aid the Titanic the construction of which was at that time underway?

Further, it has a very old distressed label glued on the axle which says (also in block capitals) in discoloured fountain pen ink:

"WHEEL FROM THE STEAM TUG "SAMSON" ONE OF THE TUGS THAT AIDED THE TITANIC".

I have no reason to doubt the age and authenticity of the wheel, the impressed writing nor the old label (all of which I have examined profusely under close magnification for the genuine characteristics of age). The wheel was found during a house clearance in a garden shed in Warwickshire, UK so appears to have no locational connection with the author of the Titanic Station blog.

So a mystery or a new revelation or both. I would much appreciate any knowledge that any member(s) of Encyclopedia Titanica may be able to provide to further research on this matter.

Many thanks all
Chris
 

Seumas

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Thank you Ioannis Georgiou for your interest in my posting on March 4th and apologies for the delay in getting back to this forum.

You are absolutely right, I have been aware for some time that there is no reference to a tug 'Samson' of that period in the published lists of Harland & Wolff (H & W) ships, although I do wonder how comprehensive those lists or indeed the H & W records are. Another scenario of course is that a tug named Samson may have been built by another company and acquired by H & W in 1910(?)

You ask what is the evidence. This falls into two categories as follows:

1. A blog for 'Titanic Station' (Titanic Station posted )on Monday 27th October 2008 titled 'Titanic's Departure' which referred to the near collison of Titanic with the SS New York and stated that:

"Two tugs (Samson and Hercules) were able to hold the New York back".

The person who wrote the blog (Daniel, location Clute, Texas, USA) claims to have got a lot of information from books about Titanic, but I do not know where the original reference to a Samson tug may have came from.

2. Now the interesting bit - I have an old ships wheel (helm) which has professionally stamped / impressed writing in the wooden Felloe each side of the metal ring which reads:

"STEAM TUG SAMSON / BELFAST" and "H & W T6 1910".

The applied block capital stamped (impressed) writing could be easily missed, it is small (about a quarter of an inch high), discreet and worn, and needed white powder to bring it out to a be readable against the golden brown colour of the wood.

The 'T6' is interesting - I wonder what it means, could this refer to the sixth tug to be designated by H & W to aid the Titanic the construction of which was at that time underway?

Further, it has a very old distressed label glued on the axle which says (also in block capitals) in discoloured fountain pen ink:

"WHEEL FROM THE STEAM TUG "SAMSON" ONE OF THE TUGS THAT AIDED THE TITANIC".

I have no reason to doubt the age and authenticity of the wheel, the impressed writing nor the old label (all of which I have examined profusely under close magnification for the genuine characteristics of age). The wheel was found during a house clearance in a garden shed in Warwickshire, UK so appears to have no locational connection with the author of the Titanic Station blog.

So a mystery or a new revelation or both. I would much appreciate any knowledge that any member(s) of Encyclopedia Titanica may be able to provide to further research on this matter.

Many thanks all
Chris
I do wonder how comprehensive those lists or indeed the H & W records are.

Quite comprehensive. The law required them to be. These vessels, regardless of whether it be a passenger liner or a tug had to pass safety inspections and receive certificates to begin operating.

This tug did not slip through the net.

I have no reason to doubt the age and authenticity of the wheel, the impressed writing nor the old label (all of which I have examined profusely under close magnification for the genuine characteristics of age). The wheel was found during a house clearance in a garden shed in Warwickshire, UK so appears to have no locational connection with the author of the Titanic Station blog.

It's actually quite easy to "age" something. A friend of mine works for a company that produces chemicals for furniture manufacturers that give an aged or weathered tone to their products.

Just last week we had a thread discussing dubious Titanic or Titanic related items.

I hate to tell you this but fake Titanic ephemera is really common. The odds are strongly against your wheel having anything to do with the ship.
 
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I do wonder how comprehensive those lists or indeed the H & W records are.

Quite comprehensive. The law required them to be. These vessels, regardless of whether it be a passenger liner or a tug had to pass safety inspections and receive certificates to begin operating.

This tug did not slip through the net.

I have no reason to doubt the age and authenticity of the wheel, the impressed writing nor the old label (all of which I have examined profusely under close magnification for the genuine characteristics of age). The wheel was found during a house clearance in a garden shed in Warwickshire, UK so appears to have no locational connection with the author of the Titanic Station blog.

It's actually quite easy to "age" something. A friend of mine works for a company that produces chemicals for furniture manufacturers that give an aged or weathered tone to their products.

Just last week we had a thread discussing dubious Titanic or Titanic related items.

I hate to tell you this but fake Titanic ephemera is really common. The odds are strongly against your wheel having anything to do with the ship.
Well that sounds better than way they used to "age" counterfeit roman and other fake coins. The goose method. But back to the thread title. I thought the large liners always had tugs assist them when in port. No matter where they were.
 

Seumas

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Well that sounds better than way they used to "age" counterfeit roman and other fake coins. The goose method. But back to the thread title. I thought the large liners always had tugs assist them when in port. No matter where they were.
You are right, they sure do need tugs in port.

The problem here is that the wheel is supposed to be from a tug that helped the Titanic avoid the collision with the SS New York.

This tug in question is called Samson but the identities of the actual tugs have long been established beyond doubt and none of them was called Samson.

I'm going to post a link to a thread from the ET archives for a bit of light relief. This is an entertaining thread from 2000 concerning fake Titanic items. The author of post (# 32) had some particularly amusing stories of his dealings with fake artefacts and the people pushing them. Enjoy !

 
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You are right, they sure do need tugs in port.

The problem here is that the wheel is supposed to be from a tug that helped the Titanic avoid the collision with the SS New York.

This tug in question is called Samson but the identities of the actual tugs have long been established beyond doubt and none of them was called Samson.

I'm going to post a link to a thread from the ET archives for a bit of light relief. This is an entertaining thread from 2000 concerning fake Titanic items. The author of post (# 32) had some particularly amusing stories of his dealings with fake artefacts and the people pushing them. Enjoy !

That was interesting post by Mr. Santini. Thanks. It's why I never buy trinkets when I go oversea's. Probably 99% are fakes. But not just Titanic stuff. Applies to most things. Egypt is a good example of that. Lots of treasure maps to the lost tomb for sale there...LOL. Even museum experts get tricked a lot. Phony pre columbian art out there that they've had to pull lately. Thanks for the info on the tugs. Only knew about the problems when the Titanic left the docks at Southampton.
 

chrisd

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Thank you all for your replies.

I was expecting and understand the authenticity doubters and faked items response and fully appreciate that some 99.9% of Titanic related items are either memorabilia, copies or fakes.

I do have years of experience in collecting and studying and comparing ancient, antique and faked items (including the stratigraphy and faking of patinas) and as I said have no doubt as to the age and authenticity of this item.

If someone was going to fake a wheel from a steam tug that served Titanic, the only sustainable reason being to profit, they would use the name of a tug recorded to have carried out that task and known to have since been dismantled, rather than using an unknown name which has no recorded connection to the ship, which would make no sense.

Regarding the comprehensiveness of the H & W lists I read somwhere that those published are not necessarily comprehensive, and in any case have suggested that the tug may have been built by another company.

I have managed to contact Daniel in America, who has confirmed that, whilst he wrote the post 15 years ago, he does specifically remember reading about the tug Samson aiding Titanic.

So for me this remains a mystery.

Kind regards

Chris
 

Seumas

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You'll need much, much better proof than that. It's not at all convincing.

Let's see this bloke's sources and not just what he thinks he remembers.

And it doesn't get around the fact that the names of the six tugs have been established for a long time.

The "Samson" was not one of them.
 

chrisd

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This was not supposed to be an argument. It was supposed to be an enquiry to see if anyone had heard of the Samson, as simple as that.

I was not inviting opinionated know-all views constrained by known records - unless of course one was there on 10th April 1912 to witness the names of all the tugs that day in the Solent.

I had hoped this forum would be one of positive inquisitive attitudes, amongst other things interested in unrecorded and unknown information, with open minds about things that may or may not have been recorded or happened in 1912 long before our time.

It seems pointless and I shall not continue with this thread but will continue research on the matter through learned circles. As a closing point I am intrigued by Stewart Halls comment "Are the tugboat nameplates blotted out intentionally in the original film footage". Having reviewed numerous pictures of the tugboats in action that day very few of them show the names of the tugs and on those that do most are not legible....
 
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Thank you Ioannis Georgiou for your interest in my posting on March 4th and apologies for the delay in getting back to this forum.

You are welcome!

You ask what is the evidence. This falls into two categories as follows:

1. A blog for 'Titanic Station' (Titanic Station posted )on Monday 27th October 2008 titled 'Titanic's Departure' which referred to the near collison of Titanic with the SS New York and stated that:

"Two tugs (Samson and Hercules) were able to hold the New York back".

The person who wrote the blog (Daniel, location Clute, Texas, USA) claims to have got a lot of information from books about Titanic, but I do not know where the original reference to a Samson tug may have came from.

Yes sadly no source is given here. However after a quick look over that part "Titanic’s Departure" there seems to be a lot of wrong information posted there.
For example "Collision mats were hung over the side of the Titanic to soften any collision that might happen."
That is not right. There were no "mats" aboard Titanic. Actually according to 2nd class passenger Lawerence Beesley mats were put over the side of the New York. Sadly we see the same mistake here with the tugs. According to that link it continues: "Two tugs (Samson and Hercules) were able to hold the New York back."
Aside that there was no tug called Samson it was the tug Vulcan which got a rope at the stern of the New York and try to get it away from Titanic.

In all there were 6 tugs hired and paid for the departure of Titanic. A Samson is not among them.
 
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