Building the Titanic

Titanic under construction.

Above: Titanic under construction.

31 March 1909 - the date on which the keel of the Titanic was laid down and construction commenced.

3 months - the number of months after the keel of Olympic was laid down that Titanic's keel was laid.

31 May 1911 - the date on which the Titanic launched, entering the Victoria Channel in Belfast Lough from a slipway at the Queen's Yard of the Harland & Wolff shipyard.

26 months - the length of time it took to build the RMS Titanic, from keel to launch.

401 - the yard number given to the Titanic when her keel was laid down ('Harland and Wolff Yard No. 401').

3 - the number of the slipway on which Titanic was built.

228 feet - the height (69 metres) of the gantry built over the RMS Titanic and her sister ship Olympic. Fittingly, it was the largest gantry in the world at that time.

How much did the Titanic cost?

At the US inquiry into the sinking, Bruce Ismay stated that the cost of building the Titanic was $7,500,000. This was converted into British Sterling at a rate of $5 to £1, with the cost in sterling being recorded as £1,500,000. Based on inflation and modern-day exchange rates, this would put the cost in 2016 money [?] at something in the region of $166,000,000 (£120,000,000). Interestingly, this is less than the cost of making the 1997 movie Titanic, which was $200,000,000.

14,000 - the number of men typically employed at the Harland & Wolff shipyard.

15,000 - the approximate number of men employed at the peak of the building work.

3,000 - the approximate number of these men employed in the construction of the Titanic, representing around 20% of the workforce.

3 months - the intended gap between the completion of Olympic and Titanic. This gap widened as more men were allocated to building Olympic in order to meet her planned launch date.

8 - the number of construction workers killed during the build, from keel laying to launch.

246 - the number of injuries recorded during the build.

Did You Know?

There was an unwritten expectation in shipyards at the time of 'one death for every £100,000 spent', so at a build cost of £1.5, the Titanic's toll was less than the 15 deaths that might have been expected.

3,000,000 - the number of rivets used in the construction of the hull, a mix of iron and steel.

200 - the number of rivets that a four-man riveting crew could complete per day (assuming dry weather conditions).

15,000 - the number of days work this rate of riveting would have represented for a four-man crew.

Building the Titanic at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

Above: Building the Titanic at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

20 - the number of horses needed to transport the main anchor.

Why was the Titanic built?

Titanic and her sister ships Olympic and Britannic were built to compete with the ocean liners Lusitania and Mauretania. Owned by rivals Cunard, the Lusitania was renowned for her luxury, whilst the Mauretania held the Blue Riband, the unofficial record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic (a record which remained unbeaten until 1929). White Star Line had decided not to attempt to compete on speed but rather to build larger, more reliable and more luxurious ships than their rivals.

100 feet - the approximate increase in length of Olympic and Titanic over Lusitania and Mauretania.

14,000 - the number of men employed at the Harland & Wolff shipyard.

49 - the average hours worked per week at the shipyard.

£2 - the weekly wage of a Harland & Wolff construction worker.

6 - the number of days worked each week (Saturday was a shorter day, ending early afternoon, and Sundays were not worked).

06.00 am - the time by which yard managers were expected to be on site.

More To Explore

Read about the launch of the Titanic and about her ill-fated maiden voyage.

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