The Titanic was built in the city where I have lived for the last two-ish years. I have never been to the docks. So when one of my closest friends in Europe came over to visit before I take my leave of Europe and the European life I’ve been living the last three years, I decided we needed to go. She has a morbid fascination with mega-disasters and I have a weird penchant for boats. Perfect!
So, after two nights of heavy drinking of our very favourite beer from the place we both lovingly call home despite the fact that neither of us live there anymore, we decided to go check out the docks.
It turns out that we picked the right day to go. Today was the 99th anniversary of Titanic’s departure from Belfast. What it did in Southampton for 11 months before it finally had its maiden voyage, I don’t know, but it left Belfast 99 years ago today.
Other things we learned: The White Star Line called families of the lost crewmen and asked to be reimbursed for the lost uniforms, Bruce Ismay was a hero in British and Irish culture, but had an enemy in the American press who painted him in the way that we know him in popular culture in the west, the men who were working on Titanic were allotted 7 minutes of bathroom time per 12 hour shift…if they went over, they were docked that time the next day, and the things that ships rest on when in dry dock are called — not at all surprisingly — keel blocks, which, in the case of the Thompson dry dock, where the Titanic was worked on, weighed 2.5 TONNES apiece.
Things I already knew: Boats are neat!