The captain, Edward John Smith, shouted out: “Be British, boys, be British!”

This story goes to show there’s no end to the saga of the ill fated, ill-riveted colossus. It could inspire new life to the Titanic Quarter signature project, so diabolically cheated of lottery funding .but still supported by £65 million of public money .

Why not dramatically recreate the national characteristics of English, Irish and American queues around a mockup of the ship as they scramble for the lifeboats? You could have different winners every day. There’d be no shortage of paid volunteers to play the competition between the English first and second class and the inevitable Irish steerage. Mr Wilson to play the part of Captain Smith to police the race for the boats? What about a Winslet / Di Caprio prize for re-enacting the iconic figurehead scene? (Down boy, I’m getting carried away here…)

  • Dec

    Titanic passenger demographics here.

    Interestingly, almost two thirds of Irish steerage passengers survived.
    This, despite the Brits’ best efforts.

  • mnob

    Point of information.

    There were more ‘British’ people in steerage than ‘Irish’ so to blandly contrast the ‘English’ 1st class and ‘Irish’ steerage is misleading.

  • Dec

    Actually, misread that stat – two thirds died. Probably, shouldn’t have locked the steerage gates, eh?

  • RepublicanStones

    The mind boggles as to all this fascination with a failure. I mean, are we gonna get a DeLorean quarter next?

  • kensei

    RS

    I think if you agreeed to build a giant Flux Capacitor in the quarter you may have my support on that.

  • Jean Baudrillard

    Surely there is a new Titanic Signature project already on-site in the quarter?

    I’m talking about all those $300,000 two-bedroom apartments that loads of people stumped up 10% deposits for eighteen months ago and who are now desperately looking for legal lifeboats with which to escape?

  • RepublicanStones

    Will look into it Kensei. But just so long as we go to the future, because lets face it, who in their right mind would want to travel back to the past in Belfast 😉

  • RS

    ‘republican’ and ‘fascination with failure’…..

    not a google whack anyway…..

    you have to remember that the ship didn’t just start sinking – for no reason…

    It hit a large object.

  • RepublicanStones

    Whats the matter wile, was your great grandfather resposible for the welding job? Unsinksble they said, rather like they used to say the sun never sets on the british empire, even though it did and will continue to do so 😉

  • Harry Flashman

    “the sun never sets on the british empire”

    Actually that was a simple statement of physical fact at the time and not a prediction for the future. At any given time the sun was actually shining on some part of the British Empire, quite an achievement when you think about it.

  • Dec

    you have to remember that the ship didn’t just start sinking – for no reason…

    It hit a large object.

    Which it was designed to survive…hence the ‘unsinkable’ nickname. Still, your touchniness over rusty steel and iron has been noted.

    Whether it was the welding or rivets, we can be sure that aspect of the Titanic’s history will be glossed over in any eventual museum or exhibition.

  • RepublicanStones

    Obviously Harry, but is one not allowed alittle poetic licence.

    ‘quite an achievement when you think about it.’

    Cannons versus spears aint much of an achievement.

  • Dec

    At any given time the sun was actually shining on some part of the British Empire, quite an achievement when you think about it.

    “That’s because God does not trust the British in the dark”.”

    Colvin R. De Silva

    Btw the term could and was applied to several ’empires’.

  • Greenflag

    Fascinating tables . A quick glance showed me anyway that your best chances of survival were to have a second class child and Chinese .

    Apparently 75% of the Chinese on board survived and no second class child was lost . Third class/steerage males got the worst of it . Plus ca change plus c’est le meme chose even on board today’s Titanic economies 😉

    ‘To them that hath shall be given and to them tha hath not even that which they haven’t got will be taken from them ‘

    The above quote is from Bernard Madoff’s alleged up coming investment tome ”How to make friends -con them of millions and be welcomed at synagogue and the country club ‘ 🙁

  • Harry Flashman

    “Btw the term could and was applied to several ‘empires’.”

    Really? Which others?

  • I think that if you look at the source for the term ‘unsinkable’ it did not originate from the White Star Line or Harland & Wolff, but was a newspaper report (source for this is Robert Ballard’s book on finding the Titanic, plus some others I can’t recall their titles).

    As to it being designed to survive hitting an object, it is a disputed fact as the Titanic flood compartments met and exceeded safety standards for thieir time. The type of production of the steel may have been a contributory factor as it has been alleged that it became brittle at low temperatures. But, again in the absence of any available contamperaneous evidence no-one was aware at the time of the propensity for the steel to fracture so badly as a result of an impact.

    In other words, as with all good history, context is important; as was the type of provision in steerage and the demographic affected. Whether it was ‘right or wrong’ is an irrelevant point, much like the Winslett/DiCaprio abomination. However, I’m sure that if a local production company pitched they could get a grant for a performance piece throwing local politicians into the Lagan in a re-creation of the sinking, with the oublic selecting which ‘class’ of passengers the politicians should be put in, and which ones get to reach a liefboat…

  • Jose the Red

    In answer to Harry Flashman. The Portugese Empire!

  • “Really? Which others”

    I’m pretty sure it’s a translation from the Spanish to begin with. Didn’t it originate as a Spanish boast?

  • Jose the Red

    Also, the Spanish Empire and Dutch Empire.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Harry,

    “Really? Which others?”

    Whilst agreeing with the thrust of yer argument, so only for the crack, Denmark had an Empire which included lands within the Arctic Circle – Greenland and Iceland. During the summer the sun would never have set on their Empire as they’d have 24 hour days in parts of these islands. And vice versa during the winter…

  • Jose the Red

    Sacré bleu, I forgot about the French Empire!

  • Dec

    Harry

    The term was originally coined for the 18th century Spanish empire. It was used in America as well to describe their late 19th Century ‘global interests’.

  • Dec

    The type of production of the steel may have been a contributory factor as it has been alleged that it became brittle at low temperatures. But, again in the absence of any available contamperaneous evidence no-one was aware at the time of the propensity for the steel to fracture so badly as a result of an impact.

    Belfast Metal

    Contemporary H&W;archives show that there was a large degree of concern over the availability of top quality rivets (Titanic’s Hull employed ‘Best’ rivets as opposed to ‘Best Best’) and the shortage of skilled welders due to the simultaneous construction of 3 Ocean liners at the yard.

  • This, despite the Brits’ best efforts.

    Sure wasn’t Leonardo di Caprio’s character in the Titanic film an American?

    I think if you agreeed to build a giant Flux Capacitor in the quarter you may have my support on that.

    Or, we could just have a De Lorean quarter with thousands of jerry-built, over-priced, flats that we could sucker ‘savvy investors’ into laying down deposits for at three times the long-term market trend price. Then people could have a real time machine experience when their collapsing personal finances took them back to the 1930s.

  • USA

    Knowing the US fascination with this story, IMHO a Titanic tourist attration in Belfast would be a winner.
    With regard to the empire arguement: When waxing lyrical about Britains finest hour, Churchill asked stated “if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.”
    The hypocracy and arrogance of various European imperialists is shocking. Ironically Adolf Hitler was at the same time talking up his Thousand Year Reich. Thousand year Reich – Thousand Year Empire, all the same thing to a North American.

  • fionn

    Harry .. Could it not then be said that the sun was ALWAYS setting on the British Empire, because ‘At any given time the sun was actually SETTING on some part of the British Empire’ … ??

    hee hee

  • Thousand year Reich – Thousand Year Empire, all the same thing to a North American.

    Not to defend the Brits, but one could just as easily say, Holocaust – Manifest Destiny, all the same thing to an Irishman…

  • Dec

    Sure wasn’t Leonardo di Caprio’s character in the Titanic film an American?

    Couldn’t find a still of the crew chaining the steerage access gates.

  • USA

    Sammy,
    “Holocaust – Manifest Destiny”,

    I agree 100%.

    The American political philosophy of Manifest Destiny is most clearly associated the President Andrew Jackson. Interestingly for you guys, both his parents came from Ulster. The intolerance of his poliltical philosophy towards others was and is shameful.
    The descendants of this immigrant group are still here today. They are the bedrock of the Christian Right, they scorn science and reason, preferring to put their faith in some omnipotent being in the sky.
    Today they distrut Muslims and supported Bush in his wars in the Middle East. Bush was “their man” and he exhibited the same characteristics of a willful ignorance.

  • USA

    Here is a link to some information on the above mentioned Andrew Jackson.

  • dewi

    Sun never sets – hmm I suppose technically this could happen with one European and one Australasian possession. So British, Dutch, German there or there abouts – Spanish probaly OK also – Portugal ? Perhaps Goa and Brazil together would do the trick.Soviet Union almost there by itself? Between Sakhillin and that bit of Finland they nicked? France? They had (still have) some small pacific islands – along those couple of islands off Canada Ok. How about the Mongols at their peak? Perhaps not quite.

  • Donnacha

    Never mind the rivets or the steel or the icebergs – good manners put paid to many, apparently:

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=6699207&page=1

  • dunreavynomore

    There was a programme recently on TG4 about another H and W ship which had been built with the lessons of the Titanic failure in mind. This ship came under sustained torpedo attack for hours and still was able to travel a long distance under tow.I think all passengers were saved. I forget the name of the ship but it would seem much more worthy of commemoration than the Titanic, certainly for its quality and seaworthiness.

  • Greenflag

    USA ,

    ‘When Andrew (Jackson )refused to clean the boots of a British officer, the irate redcoat slashed at him with a sword, giving him scars on his left hand and head, as well as an intense hatred for the British. While imprisoned, the brothers contracted smallpox. Robert died a few days after their mother secured their release. Jackson’s entire immediate family died from war-related hardships which Jackson blamed on the British, and he was orphaned by age 14.’

    So Jackson’s life story then mirrors tens if not hundreds of thousands of Irish life histories through the ages and in particular from the mid 16th to late 18th centuries.

    The ‘left’ behinds of the scotch irish /ulster scots in Ulster learned eventually to kow tow to the British particularly after 1798 when some 40,000 people were killed in the republican uprisings’ . King George was very upset at losing his American colonies and was not going to lose Ireland . He did’nt either at least not in his time.

    ‘They are the bedrock of the Christian Right, they scorn science and reason,’

    Oddly enough the same is true of their distant cousins here in Ireland . I say oddly since most enlightened europeans would have seen the mainly Catholic Ireland of the 18th & 19th centuries as a regional centre of anti reason and religious superstition . There was a small ‘enlightened ‘ group among some of Belfast’s protestants in the mid to late 18th century influenced mainly by events in France and the USA and the great scientific discoveries being made .

    Nowadays the only place in Europe from the Ural Mountains to the mouth of the Shannon River where you will find a refusal to believe in evolution among a significant section of the population is among Northern Ireland’s Protestants.

  • RepublicanStones

    Greenie, your incessant re-partionist inklings aside, one finds difficulty in playing the role of contrarian to your posts !

  • Harry Flashman

    I’m not sure if it is strictly true that the Spanish, French, Dutch or Portuguese had possessions that meant there was never a point when darkness fell on their rule, for instance the French had nothing (I think) from the Carribean to New Caledonia, the same (again I think) would apply to the other empires. As to Congal Claen’s rather cheeky suggestion of the Danes well of course that would be true of the Summer months but what about the Winter months? Unless they had a bit of the Antarctic too, Norway anyone?

    RepublicanStones’ idea that the British gained an empire by simply shooting men with spears is not entirely correct, in fact the British mostly gained their territory in North America and Asia (though not in Africa of course) by fighting other first class European powers such as Spain, France, Holland, Portugal and Germany or alternatively fighting the Chinese and Indians who would be deeply offended by the implication that their superb armies were somehow primitive, spear-chucking barbarians.

    Allow me to quote from an interesting book about the British Empire and India that I am in the middle of:

    “There were two nations. One was a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organised and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swathe of the earth. The other was an undeveloped, semi-feudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The Second was England.”

    This of course was the state of play before Sir Francis Drake set out on his worldwide voyage and thus began the overseas British Empire.

    I’m not excusing the British Empire nor condoning imperialism I am merely stating objectively that the British Empire was quite an impressive operation

  • USA

    Greenflag,
    Yes, Jackson’s formative years were very much like the rest of his compatriots from Ulster. Here in America they carried a deep resentment of the British, due in a large part to the penal laws also applying to Presbyterains. It was the resulting lack of opportunity which forced many of them to set sail for America.
    Here they willingly formed the backbone of Washington’s army to break the chains from Britain. I would expect Andrew Jackson to have been hostile to the British from an early age, learning on his mothers knee of the hardships experienced in Ulster.
    Presbyterians played a large part in the rising of 1798 in Ulster. After the battle of Antrim town the British burned the “Scots Town” quarter to the ground such was their support for the rising. In the battle of Ballynahinch the “rebels” came for “The Ards”, Comber and all around North Down, marching through Carryduff on their way.
    This rising was spurred by the successes of their cousins in America, unfortunately for all of Ireland success was not to be.
    This common cause in Irish history has always been of interest to many, as was the ancient kingdom of Dalriada which also emphasises the common cultural similarities of Ireland and Scotland. The Gaelic world of the 15th and 16th centuries is another period of commonality.
    This common cause rears itself every so often and I have no doubt it will again, perhaps next time in the manifestation of both Scottish and Irish nationalism.
    At such time lets hope the proud Ulster Scot will not be taken in by the fire and brimstone preachers, but again emberace the values of the upon which their forefathers founded the United States of America. And I do not say that lightly, those Ulstermen fought that they should not be taxed again by the British, they died for religious freedom and economic opportunity – all the values which America still holds dear today.

  • USA

    Sorry, that should read:
    “again embrace the values of the the enlightenment , upon which their forefathers founded the United States of America.”

  • Dec

    I’m not sure if it is strictly true that the Spanish, French, Dutch or Portuguese had possessions that meant there was never a point when darkness fell on their rule

    Harry

    It was certainly true of the Portugese, French (Colonial)and Dutch empires. An argument could be made against the Spanish Empire but since they controlled almost the entire Americas at the time, I’m sure they cared less.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘RepublicanStones’ idea that the British gained an empire by simply shooting men with spears is not entirely correct, in fact the British mostly gained their territory in North America and Asia (though not in Africa of course) by fighting other first class European powers such as Spain, France, Holland, Portugal and Germany or alternatively fighting the Chinese and Indians who would be deeply offended by the implication that their superb armies were somehow primitive, spear-chucking barbarians.’

    Harry thats akin to breaking into someones house and finding 3 or 4 other burglars present and then proceeding to have a jolly good old dustup to see who gets the plasma TV. You mention India, well some there had a similar sentiment to others in Ireland. Which is why good old Lord Mayo, the ‘fenian-destroyer’ got the good news 😉

  • Harry Flashman

    “It was certainly true of the Portugese, French (Colonial)and Dutch empires.”

    You could well be right Dec but given my geography I can’t be sure, for instance there would be many occasions surely when both Holland and the Dutch East Indies would be in darkness and similarly for Portugal, but hey it’s not a major issue.

    Like I say RS, I’m not condoning imperialism I’m just explaining that it wasn’t all simply slaughtering dark skinned savages, for the most part the Brits had to fight pretty hard for what they got, not just the Brits too of course many’s the boul’ Irishman, traders, priests, doctors, soldiers, diplomats, chancers and visionaries who signed up lock stock and barrel for the Empire and were very happy to keep the natives in their place as it were.

  • RepublicanStones

    Indeed Harry, I remember watching an epsiode of ‘Spooks’ (strictly to find out the operating procedures of the british security services you understand 😉 where IIRC there was a lovely verbal between one of the spooks and an Iranian diplomat. The Iranian fellow chided Harry that nobody holds the a grudge against the celtic nations whereupon Harry politely informed him not to kid himself, that among the Scots and Irish were some of the most zealous empire builders.

    But Harry you say ‘for what they got’….some may be more inclined to say plundered, stole or pillaged and in the words of Tommy Tiernan

    “We don’t even know what the fuck pillage is !”

  • Harry Flashman

    Whatever about the Irish the Scots were up to their eyeballs in Empire building indeed some would say the British Empire could just as accurately be called the Scottish Empire so fervent were the Scottish imperialists, this is something about which the Scots have developed a convenient amnesia in recent years.

    Yes by all means replace ‘got’ with ‘plundered, stole or pillaged’, I would be hard pushed to disagree with you but there is equally no doubting also that there can be an element of “what have the Romans ever done for us?” when it comes to the good points of empire as opposed to its very, very many faults. However that’s as maybe, the Empire is long gone, no one misses it and it features now merely as an interesting debating point on the internet.

    By the way do you never sleep RS?

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘By the way do you never sleep RS?’

    I find sleep to be a most boring pursuit Harry, it has to be said.

  • Rory Carr

    “British passengers on the Titanic died in disproportionate numbers because they queued politely for lifeboats while Americans elbowed their way on, an Australian researcher believes”.

    Well, I guess a fella can believe whatever the hell he has a mind to – and most do. It is unfortunate however when such beliefs, or hunches, or sheer bloody prejudices are conflated into some sort of cock-eyed thesis.

    This line from John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra (1934) sums it up neatly for me:

    “His father was so rich that he had gone down in the Titanic, and it was told of Henry Montgomery, as it has been told of almost every other male on that vessel’s passenger list, that he had been (a) a hero, and (b) that the captain had had to shoot him dead to keep him out of the women’s and children’s lifeboats.”

  • Rory Carr

    I should just add that Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara (1934) is now available in reprint from Vintage Classics (RRP £7.99). And worth every darned penny too, if may say so!

  • Celina

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMHS_Britannic

    Props to Stephen for coming up with this!

  • Dewi

    Fascinating Celina / Stephen

    “One survivor(of the Britannic sinking), nurse Violet Jessop was notable as having also survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, and had also been on board RMS Olympic, when it collided with the HMS Hawke in 1911.”

    Charmed life or what !!!

  • Greenflag

    ‘And I do not say that lightly, those Ulstermen fought that they should not be taxed again by the British, they died for religious freedom and economic opportunity – all the values which America still holds dear today. ‘

    Not just America . The USA provided the spark which ‘lit ‘ France and Ireland and indeed even many English and Scots and Welsh too and probably further afield . But the USA had one major advantage over Ireland – it was 3,000 miles away for King George .

    Victory in war as with the American Revolution changes the national mindset somewhat . The American loyalists probably a third of the population had a different experience and many departed for Canada or to the West Indies or back to England /Ireland .

    As to the future for Scottish ‘nationalism ‘ or political independence I remain on the fence . The Scots must decide that for themselves . The Irish were not given the ‘luxury’ the Scots are now being afforded as they presently ‘debate ‘ the pros and cons of ‘separation’. The early 20th century was a different time and so too was of course 1776 😉

    Northern Ireland and it’s divided population is a different matter too . Nowadays both ‘tribes ‘ are milking the English taxpayer for all they can and appear to be getting away with it 😉

    For both Ulster Scot and Irish Gael in Northern Ireland pride is just artifice and a mix of the historical aftermath of empire and national resistance . More important for both is the Englishman’s ‘subvention ‘ the 6 billion a year . No different from the Scots of 1707 as they sold out their Parliament in the aftermath of the Darien colonial bubble . comes a long way down the line I’m afraid
    I’d like to think that we ‘real ‘ Irish have more pride and are less mercenary than the folks up north . But alas we’re not . It’s just that present circumstances an be tweaked to show we are . Mirrors can give false images

    By the way the Ulster Scots were not the only people on this island to have fire and brimstone preachers and worse to believe them ;( . Up to not too long ago the annual retreat in Catholic parishes include the visitation of the hell fire merchant usually a redemptorist or jesuit who would scare listeners shitless at least for a week or so . The local curate was simply not up to the bad cop routine 🙂 As I ‘matured ‘ I often wondered what the bloody point of all that ‘theatrical ‘nonsense was ?. Nowadays of course some of these performances would be laughed at by most Irish congregations.