Pounding of rivets
Soon after, in December of 1908, Olympic’s keel was laid. Titanic’s keel would follow in the neighbouring slipway in March of 1909. Eventually, in November of 1911, the keel of the final ship, Britannic, would be laid where Olympic had once risen from her keel plates and into a grand ocean-going city. In slipway number one, next to the huge gantry, the tender SS Nomadic was also being built. Along with her near-sister Traffic, she would service the Olympic-class ships in their Cherbourg port calls. Nomadic would go on to have a storied career of her own, surviving to this day as the last of the ships of the White Star Line.
On 22 March 1909, the first keel plates were laid for yard number 401. More than 15,000 men were employed to construct the two ships, eight of whom would lose their lives on Titanic, including 15-year-old Samuel Scott, who was the first to die when he fell high from scaffolding surrounding the ship. Also being constructed in slipway number one was the SS Nomadic which, along with her sister ship SS Traffic, would serve as tender ships for the Olympic-class liners that would ferry second- and first-class passengers to all three vessels. It took three years to construct Titanic – she was built with 3,000 rivets and roughly 60,000 steel plates. The construction of the ships continued at a rapid pace, with few moments of brevity to punctuate the time.
12 December 1909: Titanic’s stern is fabricated at the Darlington Forge Company in Durham and shipped to Belfast, where it arrived on 11 December at Harland
5 January 1910: the stern framing for the Titanic is assembled, with the two pieces weighing in at 70 tons and having a total height of 68ft 3inches.
20 September 1910: the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company Ltd puts in a special order for the chinaware that will grace the tables aboard the most luxurious liners ever built. Sticking to the company’s policy, the ships’ names are omitted from all of the tableware, which was manufactured by Stonier & Co.
19 October 1910: Titanic’s steel hull plating is now all in place and riveted together.
5 December 1910: an accident takes place when a crane on the gantry overhead collapses while lifting a large iron plate for the hull of the Titanic. Luckily, there was no damage caused to the vessel, and no injuries were reported.
3-5 January 1911: an insurance coverage is agreed upon for both the Olympic and Titanic which is estimated at £750,000 for each ship with a £150,000 excess deductible rate.
27 February 1911: the rudder for Titanic arrives at Harland & Wolff from Darlington aboard the Glenravel measuring a length of 78ft 8in, and a width of 15ft 3in.
5 May 1911: the first anchor for Titanic arrives from Netherton, Worcestershire, weighing in at 15 tons.
31 May 1911: After three years of continuous construction, Titanic is ready for her own launch. Yard worker James Dobbin, age 43, is injured that day by a collapsing hull support. He died a few days later in hospital. Over 20 tons of tallow are spread along the ways to ease the gargantuan ship’s passage into the river.
At 12:05pm, two rockets are fired as a warning to passing vessels, with a third following to indicate the start of the launch. A lever is depressed to release the launch triggers. Titanic hesitated for a moment and then, at 12:13pm, she moved for the first time and reached 12 knots as she slipped into the River Lagan with two piles of heavy drag chains, each weighing 80 tons, and six massive anchors attached to the hull to draw her to a standstill.
The whole event had taken 62 seconds, after which tugs took her in hand and towed her to the fitting-out basin nearby. She would stay there, with brief trips to the Thompson Graving Dock, until April of 1912, when she was finally ready for her sea trials.
During her time at the wharf, 29 massive boilers, four towering funnels, two tall raked masts, and her enormous reciprocating engines were hoisted aboard by a German-built floating crane. In addition, several tons of wood panels, wrought iron, paint and other accoutrements would be taken on board to form her luxurious appointments.
This eventually even included five Steinway
Remembering those lost during construction of the Titanic
Samuel Joseph Scott
Fell from the Arrol Gantry on
21 April 1910
Robert James Murphy
Fell 50ft onto the tank top, 13 June 1911.
Accidentally fell from ship 401 on
23 June 1910.
cause of death unknown
Slipped and fell from elevated platform, November 1910.
Struck by loose piece of timber and crushed to death, 31 May 1911.
cause of death unknown
cause of death unknown