The History of Building the Titanic
In the early 1900’s there was fierce competition between transatlantic shipping companies for the lucrative business of passenger’s transportation.
The two big players were the Liverpool based White Star Line
The White Star Line and the Cunard
Cunard had already set the bar in terms of speed with liners like Mauretania and Lusitania. They were setting speed records for the Southampton to New York crossing. White Star decided to fight back, not in terms of speed, but by building liners of the highest standards of luxury and bigger than anything on the seas. In this way, they could take more fare paying passengers per run and could charge top dollar for the large suites designed to take families and staff.
Competition at Sea
There is a certain irony in the fact that these two fierce competitors, White Star and Cunard, ended up merging together to form one company in the economic downturn of the 1930’s. The transatlantic route was an extremely lucrative one so it was important to White Star to have the lion’s share of the business. The technical innovations of the time in terms of engine design, vision and construction technique meant that shipbuilding could take giant leaps forward from the old timber and iron ships which had previously carried passengers. The Victorian industrial revolution led to a greater demand for modernisation. Everything had to be bigger, faster, more efficient and better in order to compete in this new capitalist world. By the early 1900’s there was a hunger for new innovation, new inventions.
In stark contrast to the ship they were building, many of Titanic’s workers lived in homes with only basic facilities. While Titanic used electricity to power everything from lights to lifts, shipyard men lit their kitchen houses by candlelight and later with town gas. From this vision of progress and innovation, Olympic and Titanic were born.
Watch our video on how the White Star Line and Cunard competed for passenger trade across the Atlantic- click here for video