History of Titanic

In the previous page we gave some True Titanic Facts.

Now we move to the history of Titanic. Here we will run you through some of the key events and people involved with the Titanic especially as it relates to Northern Ireland.


The Titanic was conceived at a dinner party in a London mansion one fateful evening in 1907. There two men met, Bruce Ismay, who was Chairman of White Star Lines, and Lord James Pirrie who was Chairman of Harland and Wolff. The topic of the discussion was luxury travel in the oceans. The two of them agree to build a new class of liner that would be the ultimate in luxury and elegance. And so the history of Titanic began.

The actual work on the class of ships started on the Olympic, the Titanic’s sister ship, in December 1908 and completed in 1910.

The Construction of the Titanic

Work on the Titanic began in March 1909 and completed in 1912. A third ship, the Britannic, larger than the previous two but belonging to the same Olympic class, was completed in 1914. Harland and Wolff was chosen not only because it had the largest shipyard in the world, a fitting place to build what would then be the world’s largest liner. It was also a sign of the close co-operation of the two companies. Indeed, Harland and Wolff eventually built a total of 70 liners for White Star Line. These three Olympic class liners were build to compete with the equally luxurious and fast Mauritania and Lusitania of the rival Cunard Line company.

The site where the Titanic was built can be seen in Belfast harbour and is being developed into a historic monument. Three thousand Northern Irish workers worked on the construction of the Titanic out of a total of 15,000 workers in Harland and Wolff. The Titanic hull was launched on May 31, 1911. Thousands of residents gathered to cheer it along. It was a momentous day. Here is how a local newsletter reported it:

"The ship glided down to the river with a grace and dignity which for the moment gave one the impression that she was conscious of her own strength and beauty, and there was a roar of cheers as the timbers by which she had been supported yielded to the pressure put upon them. She took to the water as if she was eager for the baptism."

She was outfitted by March 1912. On April 2, 1912 she set sail from Belfast for Southampton. The history of Titanic construction would be incomplete without a brief reference to lifeboats.

The Construction of the Titanic - Lifeboats

Why didn’t the titanic lifeboats suffice for all passengers? This is a question many people ask. At the time the Titanic was being built Board of Trade regulations required that ships over 10,000 tons carry 16 lifeboats and also enough rafts and floats for an additional capacity of 50% the capacity of the lifeboats (or 75% if there were no watertight compartments on the ship). The problem was that the regulations were fast becoming outdated. When the regulations had been set in 1894 the largest ships displaced a mere 13,000 tons, whereas the Titanic displaced a full 46,328 tons.

The titanic carried 16 lifeboats plus four folding ones called Collapsibles and so was within regulations but did not carry enough for all passengers and crew when fully loaded. Alexander Carlisle who had been chief draughtsman at the initial stages of construction had suggested 48 lifeboats be carried but because of objections the suggestion was never carried out.

Have you checked the True Titanic Facts?

Now read about the Sinking of the Titanic part 1?; part 2; and part 3.

Read also about the Mystery Ship that could have saved many more passengers but somehow didn't. Read also about the heroic Titanic Band that played music to the end, as well as the Passengers, some famous and most not but still precious human beings whose loss was tragic or their salvation a feat. Read also about the survivors.

By reading all the above pages we hope you will have a good grasp of the history of Titanic.

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