It was the luxury vessel that couldn’t sink – until an iceberg trounced human hubris. It was the luxury vessel, created out of furtive competition during an era of unbridled capitalist confidence. And it was a Liverpool ship, built by the White Star company.
White Star 1, Cunard 0.
The hammering of metal and the excited cries of the boat-builders began in March 1909 at Harland and Wolff in Belfast. Soon they’ll be shipbuilding. “Rivets, by heaven! Rivets. To get on with the work – to stop the hole,” as Joseph Conrad previously noted.
By the end of May 1911 Titanic’s hull sidled down the slipway and into the River Lagan in front of 100,000 people. It was the largest movable man-made object in the world at that time. Never mind the design faults.
It left Southampton on the 10th of April 1912, picked up at Cherbourg, and what is now Cobh, Ireland. You know what happened next.
On board were a number of people with North-West links: Adolphe Saalfeld who ran a Manchester perfume business off Deansgate and lived in Victoria Park. As the ship was registered in Liverpool many of the crew – ninety – came from the city and many of them perished. Fatalities included the violist Fred Clark who lived on Smithdown Road, east Liverpool, part of the band who continued playing as the ship went down.
More than 1,500 dead but the story keeps on rising.