Why was Titanic leaving from England?

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This may seem like a dumb question, but was Titanic an American or British vessel? And if she was American, why was she leaving from England on her "maiden" voyage? Also, (this confused me even more) I heard Tommy mention in the movie that she was built by Irishmen.

-- Julie (joiner@stsplus.msstate.edu), February 06, 1998


Response to Why was Titanic leaving from England

Good question. It seems that people at the time were not so sure themselves.

Officially, Titanic was a British vessel, owned and operated by the White Star Line of England. Where this gets more complicated is with the fact that White Star had been purchased not so many years before by J. P. Morgan, an American industrialist, as part of his huge Marine Merchant Association (MMA). It was still run from offices in England, but true control rested in American hands. Morgan promptly used his control of White Star to start a good old-fashioned fare war, with the intention of driving all competitors either out of business or into the MMA.

This caused something of an uproar in England. One of the most important questions, which was not settled until WWI, was whether the British government would be able to requisition White Star ships in case of a war. The answer turned out to be yes, but it did not seem clear before 1914. One of the arguments Cunard Line, White Star's biggest rival, used to extract a big subsidy from Parliament to help build Lusitania and Mauretania was that was that such a subsidy would help Cunard remain wholly British, ie., outside of the MMA, and make its ships available to any war effort by England.

As for where the ship was built, Tommy is correct. It was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland. Remember, all of Ireland was part of Great Britain then. The partition into (independant) Ireland and (British) North Ireland didn't occur until 1922. As Tommy's comments reflect, the Irish shipworkers took great pride in building the great ships of the English military and mechant fleets. They took it very hard in Belfast when Titanic went down.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), February 06, 1998.

Response to Why was Titanic leaving from England

Do a search for J. P. Morgan on one of the search engines. The results are pretty interesting as far as the family history and what happened to International Mercantile Marine (IMM) who ultimately owned White Star Lines until they were bought out by Cunard.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), February 06, 1998.


This is what I get for doing this stuff from memory. Peter is correct about the exact name of J. P. Morgan's big combine that owned White Star. My sincerest apologies. I promise the rest of the information in the above post is correct.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), February 07, 1998.

Thomas: No problem!!! Think of it. You have your SOS, CQD, MGY (Titanics call letters), IMM etc. It's an alphabetical nightmare!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), February 07, 1998.

it didnt leave from england....it left from France

-- samantha (gryffindor24@sbcglobal.net), November 10, 2003.

It actually finally departed from Queenstown (now Cobh), in Ireland.

-- Tom (tom7878@hotmail.com), December 09, 2003.

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