The History of Building the Titanic

Titanic image courtesy of the National Museums Northern Ireland Collection

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 and Cunard.

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


Post a Comment

 Security code

User Comments 95

i wish they can have information about the different areas, that would be helpful
nikki 11 February 2013
im a titanic geek im addicted to everything !! its a sad story but realy interestng :)
katie 30 January 2013
I love the titanic
temi 08 January 2013
why did they build the titanic?
my LIFE is the titanic i love the movie and everything is just
so amazing and sad!!:(
i am doing a report for my school on the titanic and was wondering the question i asked!
[why did they build the titanic!?]
maggie 08 January 2013
Libby, You can purchase the souvenir edition of The Shipbuilder, Titanic and Olympic edition. I am also doing a project on Titanic, and this book is a MUST! Its about the ship, not the history, so depends on what you want to focus on.
Silje 21 December 2012
Does anyone know of any good links for information on the titanic, I am currently doing my leaving cert project and I thought it would be interesting to do it on the Titanic, but I am in desperate need of pages and pages of factual information which seems to be near to impossible to find.
Libby 28 November 2012
I have wondered if it would have been possible to save the ship by opening seacocks and counterflooding
the rearmost compartments. Has anyone ever considered this?
alfred babich 26 November 2012
There truly were nothing like the White Star leviathans "Olympic" & "Titanic" Before, or since. Their beauty wasn't only skin deep, and their graceful lines made them among some of the most impressive and awesome ships to ever sail the seas. Took too a terrible tragedy however, to see the light and those who were lost, not only on Titanic, but on every other ship.... their deaths were not in vain.
Roy 24 November 2012
my great-great Grandfrafther helped build the TITANIC. :
Lau Hardy 14 November 2012
Please tell me who launched the Titanic
vivian 11 November 2012
Displaying Results 1 - 10 (of 95)

UK City Of Culture 2013

More Info
NI 2012
Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast

The newly opened Titanic Belfast® is an unmissable visit in any tour of Northern Ireland

More Info
Think you know everything about the Titanic?

Ship facts

Think you know everything about the Titanic?

Find out more
Titanic Boat Tours

Titanic Boat Tours

See the famous Harland & Wolff Shipyard and Titanic sites around Belfast's harbour

More Information

FUN Titanic Sightseeing Trips by Speedboat

More Info
Discover more about Northern Ireland

Discover more about Northern Ireland

More Info
Titanic Walking Tour - Every Day at 11am & 2pm

Titanic Walking Tour - Every Day at 11am & 2pm

Take an exhilarating 2 hour walking tour of the Titanic sites around Belfast

More Info

Find Accommodation

Featured Accommodation

Discover IrelandNorthern IrelandBelfastNational Museums Northern Ireland
The dropdown menu script is acrredited to Apycom jQuery Menus