RMS Titanic was conceived one July evening in 1907 when Lord Pirrie
, chairman of Harland & Wolff, shipbuilders, hosted in his London home J. Bruce Ismay
, chairman of the white Star Line. They agreed that the world-famous Belfast shipyard
would build for the White Star Line three “Olympic” class liners that Ismay hoped would secure and safeguard the transatlantic luxury passenger trade for his company. The ships were to be called Olympic, Titanic
and, it was reported, Gigantic (renamed Britannic).
The Titanic & Technological Invention
But the proposed ships, the largest in history, were as much the product of the great nineteenth-century Age of Machinery as of the imaginations of Pirrie and Ismay. The advanced technology of Titanic extended the striking sequence of technological inventions and discoveries during the preceding 25 years.
These included the combustion engine, powered flight, radio transmission, pneumatic tyres and celluloid film. Passenger liners themselves had been growing ever bigger, faster and better engineered as a small number of ship owning companies competed for the lucrative transatlantic business. The “leviathans” of the sea which Pirrie and Ismay envisaged were also a natural projection of engineering and shipbuilding prowess in Belfast generally and Harland & Wolff in particular.
The first passenger steamer was built in Belfast in 1838, but the shipbuilding and engineering industries of the city received a boost when Edward (later Sir Edward) Harland, an engineer and ship designer of genius, arrived from England in 1854. Viscount Pirrie succeeded Harland in 1895 and under his chairmanship the shipyard grew until it was described as “the greatest business of the kind that has existed in the world since men first began to go down to the sea in ships”. Harland’s ships, with their graceful profiles, long hulls and narrow beams, had become known as “ocean greyhounds”, and Titanic and her sisters were meant to maintain this beauty of design.
Watch our video on the build of the Titanic- click here for video