Titanic: The Build
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.
Visit 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 Titanic- click here for video