Titanic: The Build

From the National Museums Northern Ireland Collection

The keel of Olympic was laid just before Christmas 1908 and that of Titanic in late March, 1909. The sister ships sat side by side on the stocks and as they gradually took shape inside an enclosure of gantries, cranes and scaffolding, they rose towards the sky and dwarfed increasingly the thousands of men who worked to bring ships into being.

The Build of the Titanic

The Irish writer, Filson Young likened the scene to the construction of half-a-dozen cathedrals.  There are well-known Titanic build photographs that confirm Young’s impressions of the almost nightmarish scale of operations. It was necessary and efficient to build the ships quickly and by October 1910 Olympic was ready for launching.   Titanic was ready for her launch in late May of 1911. Young was staggered that these machines – almost 300 yards (or 274 metres) in length, over 45,000 tons in weight, eleven-storey buildings in height -  could become earth’s largest moving objects. It all required imagination, organisation, efficiency and willpower.

Harland and Wolff Wokers, from the National Museums Northern Ireland CollectionVisit From an Author

A year before Olympic’s keel was laid, the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, visited the Harland & Wolff shipyard and saw for himself how these huge ships were built.

In “the biggest and finest and best established” shipyard in the world, “there is omnipresent evidence of genius and forethought; of experience and skill; of organisation complete and triumphant”.

High praise indeed!  He reported with near disbelief that all 12,000 men who worked in Harland & Wolff in 1907 were paid their weekly wages on Friday afternoons in ten minutes!  Apart from an educated professional class of engineers and, draughtsmen, there was in Belfast a working-class elite that shipbuilders both created and drew upon, an “aristocracy of labour”, as one commentator put it, made up of expert workers achieving their skill from daytime training and night-time education. Many of the riveters, sheet-metal workers, boilermakers, fitters, turners and other skilled workers lived in the streets which lay in the shadow of the shipyard where they practised their trade.

It is fair to say that the city of Belfast built Titanic.

Watch our video on the build of the Titanicclick here for video

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User Comments 69

go on titanic facts.com you can find a list on all the passengers.
elizabeth 12 December 2012
I am trying to find a list of all the people that built the Titanic is there any were this can be found
Ian McIntosh 09 December 2012
Hello, It seem to be that I'm looking for the same information as everyone else. A list of the workforce that built the Titanic. My Great Grandfather Joseph Shea was a carpenter living in Belfast at the time of the build. I would love to know if he actually worked on her. Is there any way to find this out?
Natasha Shea 08 December 2012
My grandfather and three uncles who lived in Woodvale in Belfast worked on the Titanic build. Their names were Tommy, Herbie and Bob/Robert Marshall - are their names mentioned anywhere in the ships records? I think they were rivitors and/or welders,
Hilary Bailey 07 December 2012
the titanic was built in belfast irland
aj 15 November 2012
I note Maureen mulrews comment in regard to her grandfather John McClean of hill man street working on titanic. I am keen to understand if there is any connection as my great great grandfather, Samuel McClean also lived in hill man street at the same time and worked in the yard as a riveter until he retired in 1911. Two of his three sons also worked in the yard at the same time, one being called James McClean?
Sam mcclean 05 November 2012
where was the ship built and who by ?

dyana 21 October 2012
My Grandfather Richard Freeman was seconded from Vicker's Shipyard Barrow-in-Furness to Belfast as a Boilermaker to work on the Titantic , are there any lists of workers names? thanks
sylvia black 01 October 2012
My Irish family memebers were boiler makers and stell workers. I am trying to find out if any of them worked on the Titanic. Their name was Slattery. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you
Patti McIntosh 28 September 2012
Im trying to find out if my great grandfather worked on the building of the ship.The family always spoke about the Docker heeney. please help.
derek heeney 19 September 2012
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