Archive for March, 2019

Titanic Riveters

March 1, 2019


One of the most basic components’ of the Titanic construction was the process of riveting, that took place in the Harland & Woolf shipyard in Belfast. The opportunity to do the work was a very haphazard affair, with the foreman making random choices in hiring the men for the day.

The pay for doing the job of riveting was based on the number of rivets that were hammered in. The effect of riveting was to fasten plates and beams together by hammering red-hot metal rivets into pre-drilled holes making a watertight connection.

Each riveting group was comprised of two riveters, one left-handed, one right-handed, one holder-on and a boy who was responsible for the heating of the rivets in the furnace.

The furnace boy would put five or six rivets in the fire from his bag of rivets; he would when the rivet had reached the right temperature throw the hot rivet to the holder-on who, on picking it up put it through the hole, ramming it through with a back-hammer.

The riveter drives it in with alternate blows on the outside of the shell that would fill up every hole with rivets. In the bulkheads the men would be bent almost double riveting heavy beams and plates. This was twice as hard as ordinary shell riveting. They had to work fast as the rivet had to be hammered in while it was red-hot. It was a very precarious procedure as men would be riveting up to 100 feet up and sometimes even higher. They would be working swinging hammers with only two small wooden planks as their support when bouncing around,. As they worked they had no guardrail provided in those days!

Eight Harland and Wolff workers were killed during the construction of the Titanic five of whom have been identified. In addition to the fatalities there were 28 serious accidents and 218 minor accidents recorded by the firm.