Following years of dereliction, the Kenwrights bought and restored the building to its former glory, returning to Norman Shaw’s original wide open design of the White Star Great Hall, which now seats 210 people. The building now operates as a 64 bedroom luxury Titanic-themed hotel, and is also a popular destination for afternoon tea, conferencing and a luxury spa.
The attic storey caretaker’s rambling flat has also been converted into Liverpool’s first rooftop champagne bar, called the Carpathia Bar and Restaurant, which overlooks The Strand waterfront and offers spectacular views of The Three Graces. It is named after the Liverpool vessel, RMS Carpathia, which rescued all 705 Titanic survivors.
30 James Street – Home of the Titanic commemorates both RMS Titanic and the White Star Line, and allows the public to become part of Liverpool’s maritime history.
The White Star Line
In 1845, John Pilkington and Henry Wilson were the first people to bear the name The White Star Line, which was founded in Liverpool. It's sole focus was the UK-Australian trade, with an increased number of journeys following the discovery of gold in Australia. Their fleet included the chartered ships White Star, Red Jacket, Blue Jacket, Mermaid and the largest ship at the time of its maiden voyage, RMS Tayleur. The original company eventually merged with two small lines: The Black Ball Line and The Eagle Line, forming the conglomerate the Liverpool, Melbourne and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Limited. However, the company failed to run at a profit, resulting in the White Star Line breaking away before falling into significant debt, which forced the company into bankruptcy.
The Ocean Steam Navigation Company
On 18th January 1868, Thomas Ismay purchased the White Star Line's house flag and trade name for £1,000. Ismay's aim was to operate the largest ships on the North Atlantic service between Liverpool and New York. As a result, he built Albion House as the company's headquarters, located on the corner of James Street and the Strand.
Harland & Wolff
On 30th July 1869, shipbuilders Harland & Wolff received their first orders from the White Star Line. Both companies agreed that Harland & Wolff would build the White Star ships at a cost, as well as a fixed percentage, and would not create any liners for the White Star Line's competitors.
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company
William Imrie joined The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company in 1870, just as Ismay formed the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company to operate the steamers under construction.
The White Star Line's Operations
The White Star Line began operations once again in 1871, with six Oceanic class ships sailing between New York and Liverpool, with a stop at Queenstown. The six White Star Line ships to make the transatlantic voyage were: Oceanic (I), Atlantic, Baltic, Republic, Celtic and Adriatic.
Like most shipping lines, the ship names had common themes. The White Star Line opted to end the ships' names with -ic.
The New White Star Line
Following the death of his father, Thomas Ismay, in November 1899, J. Bruce Ismay succeeded him as the White Star Line's chairman. His goal was for the White Star Line to continue to produce large ships, and so he created four ocean liners that surpassed Thomas Ismay's RMS Oceanic.
Many coined the White Star ships as the Big Four: RMS Celtic, RMS Cedric, RMS Baltic and RMS Adriatic. The ships also carried an increased number of passengers, with 400 passengers in both First and Second Class, and more than 2,000 in Third Class. The ships also carried up to 17,000 tons of cargo.
The meeting between Lord Pirrie, the chairman of Harland & Wolff, and J. Bruce Ismay changed the White Star Line forever. In 1907, J. Bruce Ismay met Lord Pirrie to discuss how the White Star Line could compete with Cunard Line's RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania. The chairmen decided to build three ships that would focus more on steerage capacity and luxury, with the hope of attracting wealthy passengers. The White Star Line would therefore launch the Olympic class liners: RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic and RMS Britannic.
The Olympic Class Liners
On 1st August 1908, RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic and RMS Britannic were ordered for construction at Harland & Wolf's Belfast shipyard. The White Star Line's sole intention was to build the largest and most luxurious ships on the North Atlantic. RMS Titanic was the first ship to be laid down on 16th December 1908, less than a year before her sister ship RMS Titanic.
The construction of RMS Titanic began on 31st March 1909, when the ship's hull was laid down. No other shipbuilder in the world had attempted to build a vessel of RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic's size.
RMS Olympic vs HMS Hawke
RMS Olympic was commissioned on 14th June 1911, embarking on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. However, on 20th September 1911, RMS Olympic collided with HMS Hawke, after running parallel to the British warship through the Solent. The radius of RMS Olympic took Hawke's commander by surprise when the liner turned to starboard. Two large holes were torn into RMS Olympic's stern due to Hawke's bow, which had been designed to sink ships by ramming into them. As a result, water flooded into RMS Olympic's two watertight compartments and twisted the vessel's propeller shaft. While Olympic could continue onto Southampton, HMS Hawke nearly capsized due to the significant damage to the ship.
It took approximately two weeks to sufficiently repair RMS Olympic's damage so the ship could return to Belfast, taking Harland & Wolff another six weeks to effectively repair the liner. Due to the repairs, the construction of RMS Titanic was delayed, in order to use her propeller shaft for Olympic.
In addition to significant delays, the HMS Hawke incident resulted in financial problems for the White Star Line, as the Royal Navy blamed RMS Olympic for the accident, resulting in a legal dispute and expensive legal bills.
RMS Titanic launched on 31st May 1911, in the presence of 10,000 onlookers, including J. Bruce Ismay and Lord Pirrie. Following the launch of RMS Titanic, RMS Britannic was laid down at Harland & Wolff's shipyard on 30th November 1911.
The Sinking of RMS Titanic
On 10th April 1912, RMS Titanic embarked on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, stopping at Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland. The first three days of the journey ran smoothly, with the ships' 2,224 passengers and crew enjoying the splendour of the world class liner. However, at 11.40pm on 14th April 1912, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg 375 nautical miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. Five of six watertight compartments were ruptured, leading to the gradual influx of water that caused the luxury liner to sink at 2.20am on 15th April 1912. .
Before the vessel descended into the water, women and children were escorted to the limited number of lifeboats available. As a result, a large number of men, as well as other women and children, were left aboard RMS Titanic. Many accepted their fate, whilst others attempted to save their lives by climbing aboard debris in the water. Two
Two hours after RMS Titanic broke apart and foundered, Cunard's RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene. Despite the 2,224 passengers travelling aboard RMS Titanic, only 705 people were rescued and transported to New York. Only 333 bodies were recovered by the cable repair ship CS Mackay-Bennett.
With news of the disaster reaching the UK, 284 of RMS Olympic's firemen went on strike at the end of April, as she was about to make her voyage from Southampton to New York, fearing the collapsible lifeboats were not seaworthy in the face of disaster. Due to the strike, 100 non-union crew were hired from Liverpool. 54 sailors were arrested on a charge of mutiny. Despite the charges against the men proven at the Portsmouth magistrates, the men were discharged without imprisonment or a fine.
Following the maritime disaster, inquiries were held in both Great Britain and the United Kingdom, leading to a number of changes to maritime regulations. The implemented safety measures included the introduction of a sufficient amount of lifeboats for the passengers aboard, lifeboat drills and that wireless equipment on passenger ships was manned at all times.
The Launch of Britannic
The White Star Line's Britannic was launched on 26th February 1914 at Harland & Wolff's Belfast shipyard, but was this time installed with sufficient number of lifeboats for the ship's capacity.
HMHS Britannic and World War I
In August 1914, prior to Britannic entering a transatlantic service for the White Star Line, the First World War began. Any shipyards with an Admiralty contract had to abandon all civil contracts down to meet the country's maritime demands, and so work on Britannic slowed down at Harland & Wolff.
On 13th November 1915, Britannic was requisitioned by Admiralty as a hospital ship. The vessel was repainted with a dazzle design of red crosses and a horizontal green stripe, and the ship was renamed to HMHS Britannic.
RMS Olympic was also requisitioned by Admiralty in May 1915 and was converted into a troopship, transporting 6,000 troops and was armed with 4.7-inch guns and 12-pounders.
The Sinking of HMHS Britannic
HMHS Britannic never served for the White Star Line, as she struck a mine at 8.12am on 21st November 1916 and sank. Fortunately, 1,036 people were rescued from the floundering ship, whilst 33 men sadly lost their lives. Onboard the ship was Violet Jessop, who had survived both the sinking of RMS Titanic and the collision of RMS Olympic with HMS Hawke
RMS Olympic's Civil Service
Unlike her sister ship, Britannic, RMS Olympic survived World War I and returned to civilian service in August 1919, and so received modern interior and an oil burning boiler. .
The Sinking of HMHS Britannic
Due to the Great Depression, the White Star Line and Cunard Line faced financial difficulties, as a result of a reduced number of passengers and their ageing fleet of ships. By 1933, the UK government assisted the companies on the proviso they merged their transatlantic operations, with the merger taking place on 10th May 1934, creating the company Cunard-White Star Limited. The White Star Line provided 10 ships, whilst Cunard made a contribution of 15 ships, resulting in Cunard owning 62% of the company, with 38% owned by the White Star Line's creditors.
Acquiring The White Star Line
Cunard acquired the White Star Line's 38% share of the company in 1947, and in 1949 acquired the White Star Line's operations and assets. A year later the company reverted back to the name Cunard on 1st January 1950.
Discovering the wreck
In 1985, Robert Ballard, a professor of oceanography, discovered the wreck of RMS Titanic after an extensive search. In addition to finding the wreck of the ship, Robert Ballard identified that Titanic had split in two, with significant damage to the ship's stern. Despite their findings, Ballard did not have long to explore the wreck, with others waiting on his ship R/V Knorr for scientific pursuits. However, he refused to announce the wreck's exact location to prevent people attempting to claim prizes from the vessel. He viewed the site of the sinking as a cemetery that should be respected.
On 12th July 1986, Robert Ballard and his team stepped aboard Atlantis II, with the aim of making their first detailed study of the wreck of RMS Titanic. On this search, Ballard brought along Alvin, a deep diving submersible that held a small crew, and the remote control operated vehicle Jason Junior, which could enter small openings located within the ship's interior. As a result, Ballard managed to produce a photographic record of the vessel's condition at that time.
CaptainArthur Rostron and RMS Carpathia
The story of the Titanic is probably the most famous of all time. The tragic story of the unsinkable ship made worldwide news when it crashed into an iceberg on April 14, 1912 sinking it to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.
With only 20 lifeboats on board, not even enough for half of the passengers and crew, tragedy was imminent and unavoidable.
Less than three hours after the initial hit, the Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean, nearly four kilometers down. 1,523 lives were lost on that day, a large majority of them men, the crew and the poor.
RMS Carpathia, captained by Arthur Henry Rostron, was one of the first to hear the distress calls and quickly made its way to the Titanic. It took RMS Carpathia three and a half hours to arrive at the site of the Titanic where it sadly found no evidence of the ship, only it’s passengers. Captain Rostron and his crew managed to rescue 705 passengers from lifeboats and delivered them back to dry land.
Captain Rostron was hailed for his bravery and courageousness, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by the United States Congress, was an invited guest in the White House with President Howard Taft and was Knighted by George V.
Joseph Bruce Ismay was born in Crosby, Liverpool, on 12th December, 1862. The eldest son to Thomas Ismay, the founder of the White Star Line and partner of Ismay, Imrie and Company, Joseph grew up to serve as the White Star Line’s company agent in New York.
J. Bruce Ismay returned to his native country in 1891 and was made partner of the White Star Line. When his father died in 1899, Joseph became the head of the business, and it was in 1901 that he formed a conglomerate of shipping companies, known as the International Mercantile Marine Company.
It was one summer evening in 1907 that changed the face of the White Star Line forever, as J. Bruce Ismay and his wife, Julia Florence, attended a dinner party at Downshire House in Belgravia, London. The host, Lord Pirrie, a partner of Harland & Wolff, a Belfast shipbuilders, came to discuss with Ismay the idea of creating three major luxury sea liners: the RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic and, the RMS Britannic.