All posts by Mark Taylor

13 April 1912-Life Aboard Titanic

The Grand Staircase of the RMS Olympic
Photo:Public Domain (Wikipedia)

Titanic is en route to New York and people settle into their familiar patterns. Mealtimes are very popular to meet with your fellow travelers and all classes have a place to gather and eat. The ticket price covers all three meals though first class has its own a la carte restaurant where you can buy dishes sold separately. Food portions were plentiful, unlike earlier passenger liners, so you got a lot of food for the ticket. In many ways, Titanic and other ships that followed this pattern became adept in creating expert meals at any time of the day with a dedicated crew of food professionals with access to quality foods stored aboard the ship.

The first class gymnasium on Titanic.
Photo: Robert Welch (1859–1936)
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Working off all that food was not the difficult either. You could take laps walking around the deck or use one of the many exercising equipment aboard. The gymnasium was quite impressive with punching bags, stationary bikes (called cycle racing machines), electric horse and camel, and a squash court (men and women played at different times). The mechanical rowing machine was apparently very popular. Of course, you could work up a sweat in the Turkish bath or treat yourself to a nice massage. There was an electric bath which today would be like a tanning bed. It was more of a curiosity than anything else. One had to exhibit a certain amount of bravery to get into something that looked like an iron lung.

RMS Olympic First Class Lounge (1912)
Photo: Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

You might decide to relax in the library or send a telegram off to family using the Marconi wireless. April 13 was actually a nice day to be outside on the Titanic. Spring like temperatures were in the upper 50’s, so one could enjoy walking the deck. Or you could be indoors in one of the smoke rooms playing cards. And there were professional gamblers aboard who made a living plying the ocean liners. They were known to White Star and other liners of the day, but the liners simply warned passengers that they were not responsible for such private games.

These gamblers were keen on trying to get as much money from those who could afford to lose. And they readily took advantage of the naïve and inexperienced. The did face steely competition though from men who, like the professional gambler, spent time in their gentleman’s clubs (not to be confused with its modern day nearly porn image with strippers) playing cards with other members. They usually were just as skilled as the professional gambler and knew what to watch out for.

Dinners were when everyone in first and second class had to appear in the right way. Men and women wore formal evening clothes. It was important to be seen properly attired for the meal especially the higher in status you were. To be seen in anything but such attire was unthinkable. A gentleman or lady who showed up in casual clothes for first- or second-class meals would not only get impolite stares but a discreet word that they must dress up to be seated. Breakfast was the only time you could be casual but even then, you did not show up looking sloppy or in gym clothes..

The main dining saloon was open to First- and Second-class passengers (Third Class ate in a separate area) and was open set hours for each meal. However, First Class passengers had exclusive access to the Al la Carte Restaurant, which served food from 8 am – 11 pm. Passengers who selected to eat only at this restaurant at the time of booking received a rebate of 3-5£ since they were paying for their own meals at this restaurant.

Promotional illustration in color by White Star Line to show how luxurious the facilities were for First Class Passengers. This was used in a postcard to depict the Al la Carte Restaurant on Titanic. Circa 1911
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The restaurant was not run by White Star, but a concession run by Luigi Gatti and staffed by its own workers. Modeled on the famous Ritz restaurant, it served French haute cuisine. This was certainly one of the most luxurious rooms on the ship decorated in the Louis XVI style, carved wooden paneling, fluted columns carved with gilded ribbons, and plaster ceilings decorated with flower and ribbon motifs. Mirrors were used to imitate windows and installed in the paneling. A large buffet with a peach-colored marble top graced the forward wall with a raised bandstand for the orchestra. It also had its own custom China service in gilt and cobalt blue, a beautiful carpet covered the floors, and the plush chairs were upholstered in a pink-rose tapestry. Even the lamps were made to look like crystal stems with colored lightshades for each table. Seating was made to be intimate as half the tables were for two people (the main dining saloon only had a few of these tables). Calling it the Ritz was something passengers frequently commented on noting its food was superb, its décor exceptional, and the music pleasant to dine to.

The only picture of the Marconi radio room onboard the Titanic. Harold Bride is seated at his station. Photo was taken by Father Francis Browne, SJ, while aboard Titanic.
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

As Titanic traveled on, by 13 April it had gone about 519 miles. During this time, she received many warnings of ice. At 10:30 PM, she got a warning of heavy pack ice from the Rappahannock. The weather was starting to change. The nice spring weather was going to be replaced by a cold front that by noon the next day would have people wearing heavy clothing and scarves if they wanted to walk outside.

Sources

Books

Behe, George TITANIC: SAFETY, SPEED AND SACRIFICE, Transportation Trails, Polo, IL 1997

Eaton John P. & Haas Charles, TITANIC TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, SECOND EDITION, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, New York, 1995 First American Edition

Lord, Walter, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, New York, 1955. Multiple revisions and reprints, notably Illustrated editions (1976,1977,1978 etc)

Lord, Walter, THE NIGHT LIVES ON, Willian Morrow and Company, New York, New York, 1986 (First Edition)

Lynch, Don & Marshall Ken, TITANIC AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Madison Press Books, Toronto, Ontario Canada, 1992

Internet

 Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/search?query=Titanic.

“Encyclopedia Titanica.” www.encyclopedia-titanica.org.

“The Titanic: Sinking and Facts | HISTORY.” HISTORY, 12 Mar. 2024, www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/titanic.

Titanic Arrives Queenstown (Cobh) 11 April 1912

RMS Titanic pictured in Queenstown, Ireland 11 April 1912
Source:Cobh Heritage Centre, Cobh Ireland/Wikimedia Commons

RMS Titanic arrived at 11:30 am at Cork Harbour, which is on the south coast of Ireland. Cork Harbour is a natural harbour and a river estuary at the mouth of the River Lee in County Cork. It is considered one of the larger natural harbours in the world and has been used as a working port for centuries. Near the entrance is Roches Point, where its lighthouse has been guiding ships since 1817 (the original was replaced in 1835 and fully automated in 1995). Queenstown, like Cherbourg, did not have the dock facilities to handle a ship of Titanic’s size.

It was a relatively warm day with a brisk wind (and some clouds in the sky) as Titanic made its last European stop. The tenders America and Ireland were used to bring the 123 passengers aboard: 3 First Class passengers, 7 Second Class passengers, and 113 Third Class. There were seven people who disembarked at Queenstown who had booked passage from Southampton to Queenstown. Among those who disembarked was Francis Brown (later Father Francis Brown, S.J.) who was an avid photographer. His pictures taken aboard Titanic would be the last known photographs taken aboard ship. Kate Odell, another cross-channel passenger who got off in Queenstown, also took some photos as well.

Titanic would weigh anchor at 1:30 pm and begin her journey to New York. A picture of her leaving Queenstown would be the very last ever taken while she was afloat. She would not be photographed again until September 1985 when her wreck was discovered on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Titanic was scheduled to arrive in New York on April 17.

Titanic Leaving Queenstown 11 April 1912. Believed to be the last photograph of ship before it sank.
Public Domain

[To be continued with next posting]

Sources

Books

Behe, George TITANIC: SAFETY, SPEED AND SACRIFICE, Transportation Trails, Polo, IL 1997

Eaton John P. & Haas Charles, TITANIC TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, SECOND EDITION, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, New York, 1995 First American Edition

Lord, Walter, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, New York, 1955. Multiple revisions and reprints, notably Illustrated editions (1976,1977,1978 etc)

Lord, Walter, THE NIGHT LIVES ON, Willian Morrow and Company, New York, New York, 1986 (First Edition)

Lynch, Don & Marshall Ken, TITANIC AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Madison Press Books, Toronto, Ontario Canada, 1992

Internet

 Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/search?query=Titanic.

“Encyclopedia Titanica.” www.encyclopedia-titanica.org.

“The Titanic: Sinking and Facts | HISTORY.” HISTORY, 12 Mar. 2024, www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/titanic.

Titanic Departs Southampton on Maiden Voyage (10 April 1912)

Titanic at the docks of Southampton, 10 April 1912
Unknown Author
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Titanic captain Edward J. Smith boards the ship at 7:30 am. Since it docked in Southampton on 3 April, the ship has taken on crew and supplies for the voyage. At 9:30 am, passengers would begin to arrive as the London and South Western Railway train from London would arrive. The railway station was on the quayside alongside where Titanic was berthed. There was a large number of Third-Class passengers (called Steerage back then) so they had to board first. First and Second-Class passengers would have stewards escort them to their cabins. First Class passengers were greeted by Captain Smith. Third Class passengers had to undergo inspection for ailments and other conditions that might deny them entry to the United States. If refused to enter the United States, White Star Line had to carry them back. 920 passengers boarded at Southampton: 179 First Class, 247 Second Class, and 494 Third Class. Additional passengers were to be picked up in Cherbourg and Queenstown.

Titanic reversed her course, drifts back toward the mouth of White Star Dock, as New York is manouevered to a temporary mooring in the River Itchen (Daily Mirror)
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

At 12 noon the ship’s horn blew and Titanic began its departure. Due her large size, Titanic generated a huge displacement causing smaller ships docked nearby to be momentarily lifted by the bulge of water. The liner New York’s mooring cables were unable to handle the strain and snapped, swinging the ship stern-first towards Titanic. A nearby tugboat came to assist and took New York under tow. On Titanic, Captain Smith ordered the engines be put full astern to give her enough speed to avoid colliding with New York.  Collision was avoided but it was close at 4 feet. Due to this incident, Titanic was delayed leaving Southampton for an hour while the drifting New York was brought under control making it safe for all ships to arrive and depart.

After navigating out of Southampton, and dropping off the Southampton pilot, Titanic headed out into the English Channel and her next destination of Cherbourg, France. The journey would take 77 nautical miles (89 miles). Weather to Cherbourg would be windy, cold, and overcast. Arriving at 6:30 pm the same day, Titanic would take on passengers by tender as Cherbourg lacked docking facilities for it. The two tenders, SS Traffic and SS Nomadic, were designed for ships like Titanic. 274 additional passengers would board in Cherbourg: 142 First Class, 30 Second Class, and 102 Third Class. 24 passengers departed at Cherbourg having only booked passage to France. The transfer of all passengers and their luggage was done by 8 pm. Titanic would depart for its final stop in Queenstown, Ireland before heading off to New York. The weather to Queenstown would remain cold and windy.

[To be continued on April 11]

Sources

Books

Behe, George TITANIC: SAFETY, SPEED AND SACRIFICE, Transportation Trails, Polo, IL 1997

Eaton John P. & Haas Charles, TITANIC TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, SECOND EDITION, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, New York, 1995 First American Edition

Lord, Walter, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, New York, 1955. Multiple revisions and reprints, notably Illustrated editions (1976,1977,1978 etc)

Lord, Walter, THE NIGHT LIVES ON, Willian Morrow and Company, New York, New York, 1986 (First Edition)

Lynch, Don & Marshall Ken, TITANIC AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Madison Press Books, Toronto, Ontario Canada, 1992

Internet

 Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/search?query=Titanic.

“Encyclopedia Titanica.” www.encyclopedia-titanica.org.

“The Titanic: Sinking and Facts | HISTORY.” HISTORY, 12 Mar. 2024, www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/titanic.

Remembering History: Britain & France Sign Entente Cordiale (8 April 1904)

In the early years of the 20th century, the colonial powers of Britain and France became increasingly concerned with Germany’s military growth. France had suffered defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and was concerned about its growing military power. Britain was concerned as well about Germany’s growing navy bringing both countries together in an agreement. Africa was the main point of contention with British, French, Belgium and Germany all having colonial territories. Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain also had territory in Africa.

Colonial Africa On The Eve of World War I
Image: reddit user whiplashoo21

On 8 April 1904, both countries declared that they recognized certain territorial claims of the other in Africa. The British agreed that France had control over Morocco and France agreed to recognize Egypt as under British control. The declaration became known as the Entente Cordial and the beginnings of an alliance between the two powers. Although there was an agreement to diplomatically support the other, there was no requirement they provide military assistance if they were attacked.

Why This is Important

While not a formal alliance, it put the world on notice and in particular Germany that Britain and France recognized each other’s colonial territories. Germany saw the agreement exactly for what it was and would take steps to challenge it. Germany supported the Sultan of Morocco in 1905 against France. Britain however sided with France and resulted in an international conference that confirmed France’s control over Morocco. Germany decided to send troops to Morocco in 1911 precipitating another crisis. This forced both Britain and France into an informal military alliance to counter Germany. Rather than break up the two parties, Germany’s actions only brought them closer together. And it would result in more formal military agreement that would include Russia as well. By 1912, Europe was divided into two main blocks: Britain, France and Russia and Germany, Austria-Hungary.

Sources:

—. “Entente Cordiale | Franco-British Alliance, 1904 Treaty.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 6 Apr. 2024, www.britannica.com/event/Entente-Cordiale.

Sullivan, Missy. “Britain and France Sign Entente Cordiale.” HISTORY, 5 Apr. 2024, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/britain-and-france-sign-entente-cordiale.

—. “Entente Cordiale.” Wikipedia, 1 Apr. 2024, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entente_Cordiale.

Titanic Chronology: Titanic Loads Fresh Food (8 April 1912)

Titanic Lunch Menu 14 April 1912
Photo: AP

Fresh food was loaded today on Titanic in preparation for its departure. Feeding passengers and crew was no small thing back then. At maximum capacity, it would carry 2,453 passengers and around 900 crew. That meant having large quantities of just about everything- meats, dairy, vegetables, fruits, flour, bread, and cereals. Since the ship served alcohol, it also carried ale, wine, and liquor as well. And, of course, a gentleman back then would have a cigar with his brandy, so they had cigars as well. Drinking water had to be stored as well for the voyage along with crockery, glassware, and cutlery for food to be prepared, served and eaten on. You can view a list of food at Titanic Facts.

Sources:

Books

Behe, George TITANIC: SAFETY, SPEED AND SACRIFICE, Transportation Trails, Polo, IL 1997

Eaton John P. & Haas Charles, TITANIC TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, SECOND EDITION, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, New York, 1995 First American Edition

Lord, Walter, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, New York, 1955. Multiple revisions and reprints, notably Illustrated editions (1976,1977,1978 etc)

Lord, Walter, THE NIGHT LIVES ON, Willian Morrow and Company, New York, New York, 1986 (First Edition)

Lynch, Don & Marshall Ken, TITANIC AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Madison Press Books, Toronto, Ontario Canada, 1992

Internet

Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Titanica
History.com

Titanic Chronology: Titanic Adds Crew (6 April 1912)

The only picture of the Marconi radio room onboard the Titanic. Harold Bride is seated at his station. Photo was taken by Father Francis Browne, SJ, while aboard Titanic.
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Titanic fills the remaining vacancies in ship’s crew. Coal and cargo also begin loading today

688 crew members would be aboard Titanic when it sailed. The wireless operators, Harold Bride and Jack Phillips, were actually employees of Marconi. For ship purposes, they were made part of the Victualling Department as they provided a service rather an essential operation. The ship’s orchestra were not employees of White Star but contracted from the Liverpool firm of C.W. & F.N. Black. This firm provided musicians for most British liners. They were treated as second class passengers.

Due to a miners’ strike that ended on 6 April, there was a shortage of coal. To make up for the shortage, coal from other White Star ships were transferred to Titanic so she could sail on 10 April. Passengers on those ships would be transferred as well to Titanic.  The ship would carry 5, 892 tons, which was more than sufficient for the voyage.

Sources:

Purchase Titanic Books on Amazon.

Books

Behe, George TITANIC: SAFETY, SPEED AND SACRIFICE, Transportation Trails, Polo, IL 1997

Eaton John P. & Haas Charles, TITANIC TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, SECOND EDITION, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, New York, 1995 First American Edition

Lord, Walter, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, New York, 1955. Multiple revisions and reprints, notably Illustrated editions (1976,1977,1978 etc)

Lord, Walter, THE NIGHT LIVES ON, Willian Morrow and Company, New York, New York, 1986 (First Edition)

Lynch, Don & Marshall Ken, TITANIC AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Madison Press Books, Toronto, Ontario Canada, 1992

Internet

Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Titanica
History.com

Titanic Chronology: Titanic Arrives Southampton (3 April 1912)

After departing Belfast at 20:00 (8 pm), Titanic arrives in Southampton just after midnight. She would be towed to Berth 44. She traveled 577 nautical miles (664 miles) and her recorded maximum speed is 23 1/3 knots. That is approximately 26 miles per hour.

Titanic advertising from New York Times, 10 April 1912.
Public Domain (Wikimedia)

Sources:

Books

Behe, George TITANIC: SAFETY, SPEED AND SACRIFICE, Transportation Trails, Polo, IL 1997

Eaton John P. & Haas Charles, TITANIC TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, SECOND EDITION, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, New York, 1995 First American Edition

Lord, Walter, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, New York, 1955. Multiple revisions and reprints, notably Illustrated editions (1976,1977,1978 etc)

Lord, Walter, THE NIGHT LIVES ON, Willian Morrow and Company, New York, New York, 1986 (First Edition)

Lynch, Don & Marshall Ken, TITANIC AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Madison Press Books, Toronto, Ontario Canada, 1992

Internet

Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Titanica
History.com

Titanic Chronology 2 April 1912-Titanic Sea Trials

[This has been updated for 2024 with some new information.

Titanic leaving Belfast with two guiding tugs, 2 April 1912
Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

 

Titanic’s sea trials would begin at 0600. It was cancelled the previous day due to bad weather. The day was clear and fair for the trials. Aboard were 78 stokers, greasers, and fireman. 41 members of the crew were also aboard. Harold Bride and Jack Phillips were aboard as well both as radio operators and to make sure the equipment was ready.

Various representatives were aboard which included the following:

  • Thomas Andrews and Edward Wilding of Harland and Wolff
  • Harold A. Sanderson of IMM
  • Francis Carruthers of the Board of Trade to certify the ship was working correctly and fit to carry passengers.

Unfortunately, due to illness neither Bruce Ismay nor Lord Pirrie could attend. The Titanic was out through a series of tests to show how she handled. These were done in Belfast Lough and in the Irish Sea. Over 12 hours the ship was driven at different speeds and her turning ability was tested. Testing on how fast Titanic could stop quickly (called a “crash stop”) was done as well. This was achieved by reversing full ahead to full astern. Titanic came to a stop in 850 yards taking approximately 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Titanic covered a distance of about 80 nautical miles (92 land miles) with an average speed of 18 knots (21 mph). Titanic reached its maximum speed of slightly under 21 knots (24 mph).

Titanic returned to Belfast at around 1900 (7 pm). Carruthers as surveyor for the Board of Trade signed the document (“Agreement and Account of Voyages and Crew”) certifying for 12 months the ship was seaworthy. Titanic would depart at 20:00 (8 pm) for Southampton. It would take 28 hours to reach her destination near midnight on 4 April 1912.

Sources:

Cameron, Stephen. Titanic: Belfast’s Own. Wolfhound Press (IE), 1998.

Walter Lord
—. A Night to Remember. Henry Holt, 1955.
—. Night Lives On. Avon, 1998

—. “Titanic.” Wikipedia, 2 Apr. 2024, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic.

Welcome to April

April, Brevarium Grimani fol. 5v (Flemish)
Circa 1510
Venedig, Biblioteca Marciana
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

April is the fourth month on the current Gregorian but the fifth month on the old Julian calendar. In the Northern Hemisphere, April is the beginning of spring in many places. In the Southern Hemisphere, April is the equivalent of October. The name April comes from the Latin word Aprilis and was the second month on the old Roman calendar that used to begin in March.

April was seen as a month of both sun and growth by the Romans, which may be how they came up with the name Aprilis. There may be some connection to the Greek goddess Aphrodite as well. Whatever its origin, the name stuck and has come to us as April. With winter over for most in the Northern Hemisphere, it was a time of joy. It started getting warmer, the cold days of rain, snow, and frost receded and replaced by much nicer days.

There are countless festivities in April to celebrate this time of year to be chronicled here. April Fools Day (1 April) is celebrated around the world as a day of playing pranks. It possibly goes back to a time when people, happy to see winter come to an end, would play joyful pranks on their family and friends. Whatever its source, it has become ingrained into culture and tradition. Easter and Passover are often celebrated in April as well.

For those interested, the birthstone for April is the diamond and the birth flowers are the daisy and sweet pea.

1 April in Titanic Chronology

RMS Titanic under construction. Photo taken between February-March 1912
Original source: Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

 

Titanic’s sea trials postponed due to bad weather. They will  take place on 2 April weather permitting.

Sources:

Cameron, Stephen. Titanic: Belfast’s Own. Wolfhound Press (IE), 1998.

Walter Lord
—. A Night to Remember. Henry Holt, 1955.
—. Night Lives On. Avon, 1998