The Birth of the Titanic
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The Birth of the Titanic

The Titanic Story

It was March 31, 1909 before the keel was finally laid down on the Titanic (Olympic was started on December 16, 1908).  In all, nearly fifteen thousand labourers would assist in the construction of these twin giants which would eventually be at least fifty percent larger than the Cunard steamers Lusitania and Mauretania. 

Construction on RMS Olympic was more or less completed in late summer of 1910, and she was launched without incident on October 20 of that year, ready to be fitted out for passenger service. While Olympic was going through the process of having her appointments fitted, work continued on the Titanic, and by May 31, 1911 she was ready to launch.  As with the Olympic seven months earlier, the launching of the Titanic was a true media event and attracted an estimated 100,000 people. 

The total time for launching Titanic was just over sixty seconds, with the help of twenty-two tons of soap, tallow and train oil.  It was said that the launching couldn't have been more perfect, although some of the more 'salty' spectators were concerned about the White Star Line tradition of not formally christening its vessels (not surprisingly, this fact would be cited by some as the true cause of the disaster.)

White Star would eventually push the maiden voyage of Titanic back to April 10, 1912, and in the early days of that month the new vessel was officially delivered to them by Harland & Wolff and pronounced ready for service. 
  Just after midnight on April 3, 1912, Titanic had tied up at the White Star dock in Southampton.  From now until her departure seven days later, Titanic would be a bustle of activity as crew, supplies and eventually passengers took their places. 

Although the ship's crew had been slowly assembling on board for the last two weeks, the majority still had to be hired, and on the 6th of April, mass recruitment took place in Southampton (the effect of this hiring spree would be disastrous, as after the sinking it would turn out that nearly every street in the city had lost a breadwinner.) 

Of course, it was not only crew members that the great ship needed.  Between April 3rd and April 8th, more than 5892 tons of coal would be loaded on board.  

Getting the coal for Titanic seemed to be the most difficult task for the White Star Line.  The greatest coal strike in British history had just ended, and the fuel source was, to say the least, a rare commodity.  In order to meet the commitment for Titanic's maiden voyage, White Star canceled the departures of several of their smaller liners and transferred their coal (and passengers) to Titanic.  Still, this was not enough, and White Star had to purchase coal out of the bunkers of other ships in Southampton and move their passengers to Titanic as well. 
Strangely enough, not all the passengers who ended up being transferred to the Titanic were pleased with the move.  Many of them had purchased first class passage on the other liners only to find out that their tickets would be honoured only as second class on Titanic.  Most of those dislocated, however, would later state that they were thrilled at their 'turn of fortune' in sailing on Titanic, and besides, second class on the Titanic was generally far better that the first class on the ship they bought their tickets for. 
Go To The Life of the Titanic