Letter from Titanic Electrical Engineer William Kelly to Jim Dempsey

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In a letter written exactly one month before the Titanic sailed on her maiden voyage Electrician William Kelly describes the departure of RMS Olympic from Belfast following repairs (she had lost a propeller blade in February 1912), and complains about anti-Catholic prejudice in the shipyard at Harland & Wolff.

18 Century St
Crumlin Rd
Mar 10.12

Dear Jim,

I am sorry for not answering your letter sooner but I have had a lot of knocking about this last week. 

I was transferred to the Olympic last Monday to relieve the man in charge on her.  She was to sail for Southampton that day, but all the newspapers stated that she was weather-bound.  The truth of the matter was that as we were going down the lough through the ignorance of those in charge a mooring chain got wound round the propellers and she had to be reduced to have it taken off. 

I was then  sent on the White Star tender Magnetic [*] which was going on trials and spent a rotten two days running about the Irish Sea.  I have managed to get a fine cold and sick of everything.  Every rotten job is kept for the "Dublin Fellow".  There is a terrible lot of favouritism in the yard, I expect I will have to suffer on for a while longer and perhaps I will get into the "know" myself.

The Churchill "riots" were entirely bloodless intact I do not think there is enough spunk in the whole of Belfast to cause a decent fight as I have never seen one since I came up here. 

One person they are terrible afraid of is the Pope.  On the saloon bulkheads before the pannelling [sic] was put up the language they used against him in writing was enough to sink the ship.  They must think I am a relation of his because I got a good share of it too.

I will now conclude by giving you advice never come to Belfast.

Yours sincerely

W Kelly

William Kelly Titanic Letter Page 1 William Kelly Titanic Letter Page 1 William Kelly Titanic Letter Page 1  William Kelly Titanic Letter Page 4

* Magnetic was built in 1891 so it is unclear if he was referring to another vessel or if Magnetic was undergoing trials following a refit or for some other purpose.

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Related Biographies:

William Patrick Kelly

Relates to Place:

Belfast, Ireland
Southampton, Hampshire, England


Courtesy of Hugh Kelly, Ireland

Comment and discuss

  1. Puffyjo said:

    there is a typo its NOT  reduced its redocked you can easily see in the original letter

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2012) Letter from Titanic Electrical Engineer William Kelly to Jim Dempsey ( ref: #17879, published 4 May 2012, generated 18th June 2021 10:50:28 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/letter-from-titanic-electrical-engineer-william-kelly-to-jim-dempsey.html