An urban legend blames sectarianism at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast for the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
The story went that when Titanic was built it was given the British Board of Trade registration number 390904, which when read backwards and reflected in the water meant ‘NO POPE’.
The world-famous shipyard had a predominantly Protestant workforce.
It is said that very few Catholics worked on the Titanic because they did not want to travel to Protestant East Belfast.
When the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, urban legend claimed that the ship went down as a direct result of anti-Catholicism at the Belfast shipyard.
The “no pope” story is believed to have been invented after dockers in Queenstown, Ireland (the last port of call for Titanic before setting sail for New York) claimed they had anti-Roman Catholic graffiti on board while loading Coal found on the ship’s coal bunkers.
The story is a complete myth, however, as the Titanic had British Board of Trade registration number 131428 (and H&W shipyard number 401) when it was built.
Most likely the story may have come from a joke or two made in one of the Protestant pubs in and around the wharf.
Furthermore, Lord Pirrie, the chairman of the Harland & Wolff shipyard, actually agreed with Home Rule and hired workers for their talents and skills, regardless of their religion.
May we never forget
A total of 1,523 passengers and crew died in the Titanic sinking, and 815 passengers and 708 crew (705 of the 2,228 on board) survived the disaster.
The people on the Titanic when it struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14 were:
• 337 first class
• 271 second class
• 712 third class
• 908 Crew
Last point of contact
Queenstown (now Cobh), a sheltered port city on the Co Cork coast, was Titanic’s final port of call and the place where the vast majority of Irish passengers booked for her maiden voyage boarded.
The Titanic reached Roches Point at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, 1912.
Passengers were brought to the ship from Queenstown by two tenders, PS America and PS Ireland.
A total of 123 passengers boarded at Queenstown: three in first class, seven in second class and 113 in third class.
At 1:40 p.m. on April 11, 1912, the Titanic weighed anchor and made its way to New York.
The Titanic cost 1.5 million pounds ($7.5 million) to build. It would cost $400 million today to build the same ship. James Cameron’s Titanic, released in 1997, cost over $200 million to produce.
A costly journey
The price for the most expensive one-way ticket on Titanic’s doomed maiden voyage was:
• First Class (Parlor Suite) £512/$2,560 (£8,192 today)
• Second Class £13/$65 (£208 today)
• Third Class £6/$30 (£96 today)
Although we often see £870 as the price for the most expensive suite booked on Titanic, the highest amount a Ms. Cardeza paid for this suite was £512.
These included fares for her son and two servants, train fares and excess baggage charges.
The minimum fare for first class was £26 ($130). Second-class berth prices ranged from £12 ($60) to £13 ($65).
The skilled workers at the Harland & Wolff shipyard that built the RMS Titanic were paid £2 ($10) a week. Unskilled men were paid £1 or less a week.
Although they had helped build the largest and most luxurious ship in the world in 1912, a single voyage in a first class berth would have cost the Belfast shipyard men four to eight months’ wages.
An expensive lecture
RMS Titanic survivor Stuart Collet filed a $50 lawsuit against White Star Line over corrupted handwritten college notes.
On the morning of the RMS Titanic sinking, April 15, 1912, the New York Times headline read: “New Liner Hits Iceberg; sinking through the arch at midnight; place women in lifeboats; Last Wi-Fi at 12:27 am Blurry.” In the New York Evening Sun on the afternoon of April 15, the headline read: “All rescued from Titanic after collision.”
Stay in Touch
It cost 12 shillings and sixpence/$3.12 ($50 today) to send a wireless telegram (for the first 10 words and thereafter 9d per word) on the Titanic.
During the ship’s doomed maiden voyage, more than 250 passenger telegrams were sent and received.
An electric ship
The RMS Titanic was equipped with four 400-kilowatt power generators. They were used to power the electric heaters and lights throughout the ship, the gym equipment and the electric elevators that carried passengers and crew between decks, as well as for cooking in the galley, the ventilation fans, the lower watertight doors to open and the telephone system and the Marconi radio technology.
The lower watertight doors were released by an electromagnet, after which they fell down under their own weight, the rate of descent being controlled by a hydraulic system.
Further up the ship there were other watertight doors that had to be cranked shut by hand.
Interestingly, the refrigeration system was powered by steam and not electricity.
All of Titanic’s engineers perished in the disaster and remained at their posts manning the pumps and boilers, which remained operational while the passengers evacuated the ship. The electricians took care of the ship’s electrical system.
to go swimming
The RMS Titanic featured a heated swimming pool large enough for the ship’s passengers to both swim and dip in. However, RMS Adriatic was the first liner with a heated immersion bath. Although smaller than Titanic’s pool, it was still described as a pool in White Star Line brochures.
Titanic’s pool, like Adriatic’s, was heated by being filled with warm salt water from the condensers. The six-foot saltwater pool was reserved for First Class passengers and cost $1.00.
Titanic’s older sister, the Olympic, also had a heated swimming pool.
Interestingly, the RMS Adriatic was launched on September 20, 1906, the same day that the Cunard Line launched the RMS Mauretania.
And the band kept playing
It is widely believed that the last tune played by the band on the RMS Titanic before the ship sank was Autumn by Louis Von Esch, a waltz popular at the time, and not, as legend has it, Nearer, My God, to Thee.
The former is based on the reports of surviving mobile operator Harold Bride.
Author Walter Lord said in his novel The Night Lives On (his sequel to A Night to Remember) that Bride was actually talking about Songe d’Automne, a popular ragtime number at the time.
It is widely believed that if the band on Titanic had actually played Nearer, My God, to Thee, it would have caused even more panic among the passengers, giving them the impression that they were about to die.
The band were supplied by Liverpool’s Black Talent Agency. They hired on the ship for a shilling a month and were housed in second-class quarters.
None of the band members survived the disaster. Rather coldly, the Black Talent Agency billed the violinist’s family for the cost of the unpaid and unreturned uniform he was wearing when the ship went down.
The Godman of the Titanic
It has been claimed that as the Titanic was slowly sinking, Reverend John Harper gave away his life jacket and told people, “I’m going up, not down.”
Some survivors said he walked around the lifeboats and urged the men to let women, children and unsaved people onto the lifeboats because the unsaved people were unprepared to die and be taken to eternity.
Other survivors said Rev. Harper stood on the deck and said the sinner’s prayer for those who wanted to ask Jesus Christ for forgiveness.
It was further alleged that a very close friend of Rev Harper asked him to leave the Titanic while she was anchored off Queenstown because he felt something was not quite right with the ship.
His friend was booked on another liner, scheduled to depart for New York some time after Titanic’s maiden voyage, and the friend even offered to pay Rev Harper’s travel expenses.
Rev. Harper politely declined the friendly offer, telling his friend that he had God’s work to do.
It has also been suggested that Rev Harper was the person who asked the band to play Nearer, My God, To Thee to create a degree of calm on the boat deck as the ship began to sink.
Lack of bathtubs
Remarkably, despite the RMS Titanic’s splendor, the 700 or so passengers in third class only had two bathtubs at their disposal.
There were a number of public baths in first and second class. However, only the two B Deck Promenade Suites in First Class featured exclusive private bathrooms, while some cabins on B and C Decks also shared a private bathroom en-suite with the adjacent cabin.
The Patriotic Line
The third and final Olympic-class ship built for the White Star Line was originally named Gigantic. After the sinking of the Titanic, she was renamed HMHS Britannic.
Many people at the time believed that the White Star Line was making some sort of patriotic statement.
While it is not certain why the ship’s name was changed, it is entirely possible that the Britannic, a reference to Great Britain, was named in response to the Hamburg-America Line’s fatherland – the term the Germans use to describe themselves relate to their home country.
The fatherland was completed in the spring of 1914. With 54,282 gross register tons, she was the largest ship in the world at the time.
The Britannic met her fate very soon after hitting a mine off the Greek island of Kea in the Mediterranean during World War I.
The rudder of the RMS Titanic weighed a whopping 100 tons. Meanwhile, the Parsons turbine on board the ship produced 16,000 hp (165 rpm).
Keep up appearances
Hair dryers were fitted on board the Olympic when she was given a ladies’ hairdressing salon during one of her refits, and a similar facility was intended for the Britannic before she eventually became a hospital ship during the First World War.
The grand staircase
The RMS Titanic’s grand staircase, one of the ship’s most prominent features, connected seven decks. Many films about the sinking of the Titanic have accurately depicted the grand stairway and some have not.
The Titanic Grand Staircase appears in the video game Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. The foremost stairway is shown correctly, but there is no clock in the aft grand stairway on the A-deck landing pad.
“Grand Staircase” was never a term used by the White Star Line or Harland & Wolff. Rather, it was a descriptive term used later.
https://www.independent.ie/news/titanic-disaster-expert-separates-fact-from-fiction-on-110th-anniversary-of-disaster-41556025.html Titanic disaster: Expert separates fact from fiction on 110th anniversary of disaster