Titanic Gazette Souvenir Shop

Titanic Gazette Souvenir Shop

Titanic Gazette Souvenir Shop

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Huge New Dock At Southampton

The August 19, 1911 edition of the magazine called "Scientific American Supplement" gives an interesting look into the building of the White Star Line berth in Southampton.  When the Olympic and her twin sister ship Titanic were being built, it was realized that the docks in Southampton and New York for the White Star liners weren't big enough to accommodate the ships.  The article below described and talked about the docks in Southampton and what a huge undertaking it was to get it done.  Interestingly, that dock is still in use today and serves some of the largest ocean liners in the world.  In the article, I have transcribed it as exactly as I can and have kept the grammar, spelling as it was written.

The advent of the White Star liners, and the pending new German liners which are to exceed the "Olympic" in dimensions and which are to make Southampton a port of call, has resulted in great activity and enterprise at the British port named to provide docking accommodations for these leviathans.  When the White Star vessels were projected the London and South Western Railway, which owns the Southampton Docks, at once took steps to complete a huge deep water dock as Southampton is the terminal point of this steamship company.  Every effort was made to complete the work in time for the arrival of the "Olympic," but it was realized as a hopeless task, in view of the dock's dimensions, so the existing Trafalgar Dock was enlarged for the purpose.  Owing to the energy with which the new basin has been pushed forward it will be available in the near future.  The dock itself is a parallelogram with a length of 1,700 feet by 400 feet wide.  The water depth at low water spring tides is 40 feet and at high tides 53 feet.  There is no entrance to the lock, but the largest vessels afloat for the near future, will be able to lie in this basin at any state of the tide without danger of touching the bottom.  Five vessels of the largest dimensions can berth on either side, while a short vessel can be alongside the small end berth.  
  The dock is surrounded with the quay walls constructed entirely of Portland cement concrete, and four large steel freight sheds are to be provided, the first for the "Olympic" berth being completed.  The shed is 640 feet long by 120 feet wide, and has an annex 60 x 60 feet for baggage and dock gear.  Accommodation for passengers is also provided.  There is a balcony along the front side on which passengers land from the vessel, communicating with the floor of the building by two wide staircases.  The train receives passengers on the opposite or land side, the customs' examination being carried out on benches near this side within easy reach of the train.  The communication between the vessels' decks and the landing balcony will be effective by means of movable bridges.  The quay is being equipped with the latest type of appliances for the expeditious handling of freight and baggage and when completed it will be one of the best equipped and most up-to-date docks in the world.
  The construction of the dock, which has occupied about 3 1/2 years,  has been carried out by the engineering firm Tepham Jones & Railton, Limited, under the supervision of Mr. F. E. Wenterworth Shields, the resident engineer, to whom we are indebted for these details and accompanying illustrations.  Before the work was commenced the site comprised for the most part bare mudland facing the River Test.  A chalk bank separated the waterway from this flat, but as this was not completely watertight the whole area was flooded daily at high tide. The first task was to make this barrier absolutely watertight by means of a sheeting of timber piles along the toe of the bank, and covering the slope with stone pitching grouted with cement.
  Excavation to a depth of 30 feet below quay level was then carried forward by means of steam shovels, which removed about 5,000 cubic yards of spoil per day.  Any water which found its way through the bank by soakage was led to a special sump whence it was ejected by electrically operated centrifugal pumps.  The spoil removed was for the most part taken out to sea and dumped, but a certain quantity was used for raising the mud flats in the vicinity.  
  To facilitate the removal of the spoil to the barges a large stage 350 feet long by 40 feet high was built out over the River Test.  This stage formed the summit of a long incline which led from the heat f the dock where the steam shovels filled the ballast cars.  The latter when laden were drawn up the incline by a rope railway and there tipped, the contents falling into the steam hoppers lying alongside the stage.  All this excavated material had to be carried to the far end of the Isle of Wight, a distance of 25 miles, before a dumping ground could be found which was deep enough not to be choked by dredgings.  When the steam shovels had excavated the earth to the depth of 30 feet, timbered trenches were sunk in which the foundations of the quay walls were laid.  These trenches were about 43 feet wide by 45 feet deep, the bottom being about 75 feet below the quay level.  Massive concrete walls of Portland cement, mixed by special machinery, were built in these trenches, and by the mixing machine used for this portion of the week had a capacity of 1,000 cubic yards per day.  Considerable difficulties were encountered in making these trenches as underground water found its way into making the excavations and various expedients had to be resorted to in order to overcome these floodings.  When the walls had reached the quay level dry material area the dock accommodation and facilities were built.  A portion of the wall at the outer end of the dock, and one of the outside quays, were not built by open excavation, but timber trenches were sunk from the quay level.  The trenches in these cases were 45 feet wide by 75 feet deep in places, and were fine examples of heavy timbering.  When the walls had been raised in this manner the inclosing bank at the entrance of the dock was cut through, permitting the water to enter, the excavation of the remaining portion of the floor of the dock being completed by bucket ladder dredgers.  The excavation of the channel and turning basin outside the dock was carried out simultaneously.  Four large dredgers were pressed into service for this work with a fleet of 13 hoppers and attendant craft for carrying the spoil to the sea.  By this means the dock floor was lowered by 40 feet below low water.  Two of the outer walls and part of the western entrance wall were built in a different manner.  Here no attempt was made to dry the site, the whole wall being built in water.  First the earth was removed to dredging level throughout the whole length of the wall by means of bucket dredger.  Below this level the foundations were built in a trench between two rows of sheet piling driven along the front and back of the wall.  The clay between the two rows of sheeting was excavated by steam grabs, and the trench was cleaned up by helmet divers.  On the foundation thus obtained mass concrete was laid, being lowered through the water in special tipping boxes.  Above dredging level the wall consists of large 8-ton concrete blocks at face and black with heating of mass concrete.  This class of work is continued to a point above water level above which the water is built entirely of mass concrete laid between shutters in the usual manner.  When the wall reached quay level it was backed up with ashes of select material.  In addition to the dock itself there are four outside quay walls varying in length from 330 to 610 feet with depths of water at low tide of 25 to 32 feet.
  Although at the time of writing the dock was not completed, the following quantities has been handed-Open excavation 873,000 cubic yards, trench excavation 318,000 cubic yards, dredging 807, 000 cubic yards, representing a total of 1, 992,000 cubic yards of spoil removed.  For the constructional work 272,000 cubic yards of concrete had been laid and 42,000 tons of Portland cement used.  The number of men employed on the task has been between 800 and 1,200, the whole time the work has been in progress.  The plant required for the work has also been very comprehensive and modern, comprising 85 locomotives, steam shovels, cranes, pumps,pile drivers, winding en-
 gines, air compressors, etc.  A staff of 20 helmet divers was retained for setting the concrete blocks and other submarine work, and no effort has been spared to push the works on to a rapid and successful completion.  In order to provide for the dry-docking of the "Olympic" the Trafalgar graving dock had to be enlarged somewhat.  When opened in 1905 this dock was more than large enough to take the largest vessel afloat at that time, the dimensions being: length over all 875 feet, width at entrance 90 feet, depth over sill at high water ordinary spring tides 33 feet, and depth over blocks under the same tidal conditions 33 1/2 feet.  When the "Olympic" was placed in hand the London & South-Western Railway company decided to build a new graving dock more than large enough to hold her, but as it was realized that the task, even if pushed forward at tip-top speed would occupy at least 5 years, the enlargement of the existing dock was undertaken as the more expeditious solution of the problem.  By the alteration the dock is now lengthened by 22 feet, widened by 10 feet, the inside width at lowest altar is increased by 12 feet, that at cope level remaining the same, while the depth over the sill is increased by 2 feet.  This offers a graphic illustration of the rapid growth in the dimensions of trans-Atlantic liners.
  The widening has been effected by cutting away the faces of both walls and setting back the altars. To compensate for the weight thus lost counterfort walls are being built at the back of the existing walls.  The entrance gates are also being removed to be replaces by a sliding caisson.  Hitherto it has been customary to dock ships at high tide only, and owing to the long period of high water is has been possible always to complete the operation before the tide fell away.  Consequently the dock gates have sufficed only for shutting water out from the dock.  The new caison, however, will be double faced and capable of holding up the water within the dock while the tide is falling, in case any extraordinary delay to the docking operations should render this necessary.  The present dock pumps are arranged only for emptying the dock, so a new one is being provided for the purpose of filling it.  By this means it will be possible to maintain or increase the water-depth within the dock, even when the tide is falling outside.
  Southampton is a unique port inasmuch as it is served with four high tides daily.  The first tide rolling up the Solent is followed two hours later by that coming up the eastern channel dividing the Isle of Wight from the mainland.  The London & South Western Railway have taken full advantage of this phenomenon, and have displayed considerable enterprise in meeting developments in steamship evolution since they acquired the property some years ago.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Titanic-Honor and Glory: A Game To Remember

Titanic: Honor and Glory can rightly be called one of the biggest and most ambitious attempts to recreate the Titanic's maiden voyage and sinking since James Cameron's 1997 Titanic film.  It is a video game being made by Tom Lynskey, Matt DeWinkeleer, and Kyle Hudak.  They have spent countless hours bringing the Titanic to life virtually, pouring over books, blueprints, accounts, and more.  
In the game, you will have two options much like Titanic: Adventure Out Of Time.  You can either do a "Explore Mode" or "Story Mode."  "Explore Mode" allows you to walk around the entire ship and explore nearly every room without any time limits or 1912 restrictions from going into other classes or sections.  "Story Mode" allows you to experience her voyage and sinking.  In "Story Mode," you are a fictional passenger named Owen Robert Morgan.  You are falsely accused of stealing the crown jewels when you had the misfortune of in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Your only lead about the actual perpetrator is that they are on the Titanic.  This is where the game begins.  You arrive in Southampton (most of which you will be able to explore) and board the Titanic as a 1st class passenger where you hope to find the real criminal and clear your name.  You spend the voyage looking for clues, interacting with historical passengers and crew, and exploring the ship.  After the Titanic strikes an iceberg, you have a choice.  You can either do as you wish, or you can try to follow along with the story and clear your name.  If you decide to go do your own thing, you will have many opportunities to experience history.  As the ship sinks in real time, you can sit on a deck bench and listen to the band playing, observing everything going on around you.  You could even go down below and help the engineers fight to delay the sinking with pumps and keep the power going. If you don't get into a lifeboat and end up in the water, you will have about as much time to get out of the water as the actual people did before hypothermia and exposure sets in.

To assist with the project, they have brought on world famous Titanic historians such as Ken Marschall, Steve Hall, and Parks Stephenson to consult on the physical details along with Bill Wormstedt, Tad Fitch, and others to consult on other details such as lifeboat launch times, crew shifts, and things that would be shown and heard in the game.  Yours truly is very honored to have contributed some information and details to the game as well. 

Regarding the characters, they will not be exaggerated or misrepresented,  In fact, actual descendants and relatives are being consulted.  As if that's not cool enough, Doug Willingham will be voicing his cousin, 1st class passenger Archibald Butt and Helen Benziger will be voicing her great-grandmother, Margaret Brown.  People in minority groups of the time such as Joseph Laroche (the only black man on board), and Masabumi Hosono (the only Japanese person on board) will be included.  

I can promise you that you won't be disappointed when you play the game.  Not only will you be able to have an authentic experience, you will learn things as well.  As I alluded to earlier, the team has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that every little detail is accurate.  The Grand Staircase for instance has been redone many times as more details come to light and is just now near completion because more details keep coming up.  The experts mentioned above have sent many research materials.  From Steve Hall, they have his books which go into great detail about the physical details of the ship.  From Ken Marschall (who has worked with James Cameron on his 1997 film and subsequent documentaries), they have received a care package with 500 physical photos and about 18 gbs of digital data.  

The game will be very realistic.  Using Unreal Engine 4, the team have been able to recreate the Titanic's interiors, exteriors, passengers, and crew in a believable way.  The models will be very detailed, allowing you to enjoy her beauty and get a good sense of what she looked like right down to the brush strokes on the walls.  

I highly recommend donating to this project to allow it continue to allow this dream to become a reality.  If you wish to donate, you can go to the link below for more details.  They need as much money as possible and every dollar counts.  
Also, please join their Facebook page here for updates:  https://www.facebook.com/TitanicHonorandGlory?fref=ts

Would you play this game?  What do you most look forward to seeing in the game?  Comment below and tell me what you think!  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Review: Museum Men Resurrecting the Titanic

When I first learned about the Museum Men episode coming on the History Channel, I was excited.  When I learned that it was about them creating the Grand Staircase for the Titanic museum in Pigeon Forge, I was more excited.  I was really looking forward to them bringing up interesting facts about the Titanic's construction, showing us how she was built, and talking about the Grand Staircase during the voyage and sinking.  By the end, I was very disappointed.

Museum Men is a show on History Channel 2 about a group of men that replicate rooms, machines, and monuments for museums across the US and the past few episodes have been excellent, entertaining, and education until now.  When they got to the Titanic, they talked a big talk about recreating history and honoring the Titanic's legacy, but they didn't deliver regarding the details.  They did have some interesting facts thrown in about the construction and building materials, but I wasn't sure about how much I could believe because they got so many "facts" wrong!  From saying that the Grand Staircase was nicknamed the "Stairway to Heaven" at the time to saying that it was only for a limited number of 1st class passengers, it was just a mess.  Plus, they used a black and white photo obviously of the Grand Staircase at the Branson Titanic museum as if it was an actual photo of the Titanic/Olympic's Grand Staircase even though there are multiple photos of the Olympic's Grand Staircase photos they could have used.  While we're on the subject, they did mention the Olympic and Britannic.  However, they focused heavily on their WWI service and didn't show photos of the Grand Staircases for comparisons.  On top of that, I felt that they rushed the editing with them reusing footage from several past Titanic History Channel documentaries to rushing through some parts while other parts were unnecessarily lengthy.

It was nice to see how the Grand Staircase at the Pigeon Forge Titanic museum was made and from personal experience, it is truly wonderful to walk up those stairs.  It really takes you back in the time when you walk into that room.  But it could have been a lot better with proper research and more careful editing.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Review: All About History Book of the Titanic

When I was going through Sam's Club, I noticed a magazine from All About History about the Titanic.  Being the passionate Titaniac that I am, I had to get it.  The price on the magazine was $25.00, though the price was reduced to $15.00 with a membership.  I understand that it is also sold at Barnes and Nobles'.  It is written by Beau Riffenburgh and was published in 2014.

As I was skimming through the magazine, I was almost immediately struck with the fact it is very similar to Beau Riffenburgh's book, "Titanic: The Legend of the Unsinkable Ship."  A closer examination of it reveals more similarities.  A lot of the materials he used and people he focused on were the same as ones used in "Titanic: The Legend of the Unsinkable Ship."  Unlike his book, however, the papers and documents were not ones you could pull out of pockets.  I will add that the book is not really for someone who has researched the ship for many years and knows a lot of commonly said facts.  There is no new information which can be gained by it if you have Riffenburgh's book.

The information is pretty good.  It's clear he did a lot of research on the subject, though some of his information is outdated (such as the legend Thomas Andrews died in the Smoking Room which we now know to be incorrect).  Riffenburgh laid a good foundation at the start, talking about the White Star Line, Cunard Line and the world the Titanic came into.  He then takes you into the Titanic's construction, maiden voyage, sinking, aftermath, and legacy with interesting facts and details which will keep you interested throughout.

The images in the book are wonderful and while some are common, others are not that well used.  Unfortunately, I do have to urge caution with the captions because some images are mislabeled including several photographs being identified as the Titanic when they were actually of the Titanic's sister ship Olympic.  I believe you will also recognize some of the computer models as being from Explore Titanic by Peter Crisp.

In conclusion, I believe it would be a great addition to your Titanic library.  If you are a Titanic historian who has studied the ship for several years, it may not be for you because you probably won't learn anything.  But if you are someone with a casual interest or someone who is just getting interested in the Titanic, it would be great for helping you to get to know the Titanic better.  However, it might be better if you just go ahead and purchase "Titanic: The Legend of the Unsinkable Ship."