Titanic Marconi Wireless Telegraph Machine Can be Saved

May 20, 2020 by

A United States federal judge has ruled that a salvage company could retrieve the Marconi wireless equipment.  The judge agreed that the equipment is historically and culturally important, and could otherwise soon be lost within the rapidly decaying Titanic wreck site.

 

April 12th 1912

April 12, 2020 by

The Memorial gravestone of Joseph Bell is situated in the Old graveyard of St Thomas a Becket, Nr Farlam, Cumbria, it is annotated with the following:

JOSEPH BELL AGED 51 YEARS SON OF THE ABOVE MARGARET BELL

CHIEF ENGINEER OF THE SS TITANIC WHO WAS LOST WITH ALL HIS ENGINEERING

STAFF IN THE FOUNDERING OF THAT VESSEL IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN AFTER

COLLISION WITH AN ICEBERG APRIL 12TH 1912

NO GREATER LOVE HATH MAN THAN THIS.  THAT A MAN LAY DOWN

HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS.

[RIP  12th April 2020]

Joseph Bell 2020

Joseph Bell in New Zealand

 

 

 

 

1912 Last Marconi Messages : “Come quick Engine room nearly full”

April 7, 2020 by

On the night of the 15th April 2012 108 years  ago, the Marconi operators with their new technology played their part in trying to recover the enveloping Titanic tragedy.The surviving messages form a realtime account of the nights events.  Subsequent to Titanic striking by the iceberg, a network of wireless operators on ships and land stations communicated with each other.. There is only really one first-hand, real time record of what happened that night – the collection of wireless messages sent between the Titanic and the other ships which hurriedly tried to organise a rescue operation, during the night of the 12th April 1912.  The records show how the Titanic had been given warnings of ice by other ships  and which records the increasingly frantic calls for assistance after the collision with the iceberg.

Wireless was a very new technology  at the time and the Marconi company, the Edwardian equivalent of a high tech company of today, sited their wireless operators onboard on some of the more prestigious ships.  It was still quite a novelty with much of the initial wireless traffic being sent by those ‘up top’ to their friends – a bit like text messages of  today “Fine voyage, fine ship” wrote one, unaware of the awful irony of how that might later sound.

The wireless operators were young progressive men recruited with a promise of avoiding dead end careers.  They chatted to wireless operators in other ships in a jolly, mock public school accent calling each other “old man”.  As Titanic crossed the Atlantic, the news headlines were about industrial unrest on the railways The wireless was beginning to be used by ships to give each other safety information like the location of icebergs – why were these warnings ignored?  Jack Phillips, the senior wireless operator was still sending passengers’ messages when the Titanic struck an iceberg.

The last recorded messages were increasingly frantic and fragmented – although a shore station officer following the exchanges reported there was “never a tremor” in the Morse tapped out by Jack Phillips.  “Come quick, Engine room nearly full”, was sent from Titanic a few minutes before she finally sank. Jack Phillips did not survive the sinking, but his heroism, staying at his post after being released from his duty by the captain, is part of the Titanic story.

Harold Bride, the junior wireless operator survived the sinking on an upturned lifeboat and subsequently sold his story to the New York Times.  His story set the tone of heroic self sacrifice, with the first account of the band playing while the ship sank, and with accounts of selflessness and cowardice.

 

 

Retrieval Titanic Marconi Wireless Telegraph Machine

February 22, 2020 by

A Salvage company that has previously recovered silverware, china and gold coins from Titanic, has applied for the recovery of the Marconi wireless equipment.  A judge in court will hear the application from the salvage company justifying why it wants to recover the equipment before it is irretrievable.  Would this item if recovered be bound for a museum, I hope so!

Titanic wreck – new protection

January 22, 2020 by

International agreement comes into force to protect the culturally significant wreck site.

The Titanic
  • international agreement comes into force protecting one of the most culturally significant wreck sites in the world, following US agreement
  • UK and US governments now hold power to grant or deny licences authorising entry of the wreck or removal of artefacts
  • momentous signing of treaty will help ensure the resting site of more than 1,500 people is preserved and respected

The wreck of the most famous ship in history, the RMS Titanic, will be better protected under an historic international agreement, Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani confirmed during a visit to Belfast today (21 January 2020). Signed by the UK in 2003, the treaty comes into force following its ratification by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo at the end of last year.

The UK and US governments have both passed legislation giving them the power to grant or deny licences authorising people entering the hull sections of the Titanic and removing artefacts found outside the hull. This strengthens the basic level of protection for the wreck, previously afforded it by UNESCO. Lying in international waters, the wreck was previously not protected by explicit legislation.

The maritime minister confirmed the agreement during a visit to the 1851 Trust maritime roadshow for girls in Belfast, which aims to inspire girls to take STEM subjects vital to a career in maritime.

Nusrat Ghani said:

I was delighted to visit Belfast today to recognise this important treaty coming into effect.

Lying two and a half miles below the ocean surface, the RMS Titanic is the subject of the most documented maritime tragedy in history.

This momentous agreement with the United States to preserve the wreck means it will be treated with the sensitivity and respect owed to the final resting place of more than 1,500 lives.

The UK will now work closely with other North Atlantic States to bring even more protection to the wreck of the Titanic.

Welcoming the announcement, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Julian Smith MP, said:

I am delighted that we are taking new steps to protect the Titanic, which played such a famous part in Belfast’s proud maritime history. People come from across the world to the Titanic Belfast visitor centre, and these new measures are hugely symbolic of its continued role in the city’s growing tourist industry.

Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast Judith Owens said:

Located on the exact spot where the ship was designed, built and launched, Titanic Belfast is committed to celebrating Belfast’s maritime heritage and the people who built the RMS Titanic, whilst commemorating those who lost their lives during the tragic sinking. As such, we welcome any additional protection and safeguarding of the wreck, in line with the views of our strategic partner Dr Robert Ballard who discovered her in 1985.

Registered in Britain and built in Belfast, the RMS Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage from Southampton on April 10, 1912. On April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg, the ship broke apart and sank to the bottom of the ocean taking with it the lives of more than 1,500 passengers and crew. The Titanic disaster instigated the drawing up of the SOLAS (Safety of Lives at Sea) Convention in 1914, which still sets the minimum safety standards by which ships are required to comply.

The wreck of the Titanic was discovered in September 1985 approximately 350 nautical miles off the Canadian coast of Newfoundland, two and a half miles below the ocean surface. Multiple countries have been negotiating an international agreement to protect and preserve the wreck since 1986, with the ratification of the treaty by the UK and US marking a hugely significant step forwards.

The UK will now take a leading role in working with other North Atlantic States, including Canada and France, to urge them to sign up to the agreement and bring even more protection to the wreck of the Titanic.

Memorial Gate

December 13, 2019 by

The gate giving access to the Joseph Bell memorial gravestone in the old graveyard at Thomas a Becket church, Farlam, Cumbria, had become badly rusted and tarnished so needed restoration.  It has recently been sand-blasted and a black powder coating has recently been completed. The effect of this restoration has added some dignity that the memorial deserves.

Entrance gate Joseph Bell Memorial

 

 

Titanic Birthplace Bailout

October 2, 2019 by

The threatened closure of the Harland & Wolff shipyard has been extinguished, with the purchase from administration by InfraStrata, a London based energy infrastructure company for the sum of £6m pounds.   Seventy nine will keep their jobs with the promise of an increased workforce of several hundred over the next five years.

The Trade unions Unite  and GMB hailed the role of the workforce in securing the yard’s future, who yesterday changed the wording of the banner hanging over the H & W yard  gates from ‘Save our Shipyard’ to ‘We saved Our Shipyard’

Bon Voyage.

 

 

 

Harland & Wolff Shipyard Decisions?

August 30, 2019 by

“A Westminster framing of the struggle over the historic Harland and Wolff shipyards narrow it to one of market versus state: “a purely commercial matter” says Boris Johnson, typically ducking the problem. “We will bring the yards into public ownership,” says John McDonnell, anticipating Labour’s plans for government-led industrial reconstruction.

The shipyard workers themselves, however, now occupying the yards are taking the search for an alternative to a deeper level, addressing the substantive issue of production itself, envisaging a future based not on the fantasy of a return to the grand Titanic-style liners of the past but on producing the infrastructure and inner working of equipment for generating renewable energy through harnessing the power of the wind and the waves.

They are, in practice, challenging the value judgement implicit in Johnson’s appeal to the market: that only the market can judge the social merit of a product; only if a product has a market does it have a value. On the contrary, the workers insist, it would be criminal, in the face of the climate emergency to waste skills and productive capacity which could at minimum cost and through government procurement (and hence political not market, decisions) be put to use immediately to reduce at least the UK’s carbon emissions.

All this would require government support in the interests of citizen survival, a sphere in which the market has clearly failed; indeed the unregulated corporate driven market is the main driver of climate chaos threat.

Moreover, the initiative of the Belfast workers points to a new direction for public ownership and state led reconstruction, a direction already being worked on by Labour. The shipyard workers’ alternative plan, based on a detailed audit of the yard’s productive capacity and on their own skills and experience, illustrates the importance of John McDonnell’s insistence on a new democratic management of public companies based on the principle that “nobody knows better how to run these industries than those who spend their lives with them”.

McDonnell’s confidence in democratising public ownership as a means of maximising the public benefit of public companies, has been inspired by an interestingly similar initiative in the 1970s, of similarly highly skilled workers, aware and indeed proud of the potential usefulness of their skill to the rest of society.

These workers, designers and engineers, working in the different factories of Lucas Aerospace, had, like the Harland and Wolff workers, a tradition of strong organisation and workplace militancy. But for all this militancy, they had not been able to stop the steady decline of jobs; in their case this was mainly the result of technological change as well as competition driven company rationalisations.

As in Belfast, factory closures were the final straw and as with the shipyards, an occupation by itself, was not sufficient to stop closure. For that the Lucas Aerospace workers believed they needed to win political and public support. Tony Benn, then minister for industry, like John McDonnell, was already talking about bringing Aerospace components – and hence Lucas Aerospace into public ownership.

But the workers wanted a deeper kind of change: they’d seen that public ownership of the mines and the railways did not change how the companies were managed or who benefited from their economic “success”. Government increased its revenues but at the same cost of workers’ jobs as in the private sector.

Learning lessons from this, they envisaged public ownership not as an end in itself but a means to sustainable, satisfying and socially useful employment over which they had some control. With this in mind the workplace trade union leaders from the different Lucas Aerospace factories, asked their members to draw up an inventory of local machinery and skills and suggest the alternative products they could design or make to meet unmet social needs.

The workers came up with 150 different product ideas for transport – they actually designed the prototype of a “road rail vehicle”; energy conservation, aids for the handicapped, inspired by discussions at local hospitals, and more. The Lucas Aerospace Workers Plan for Socially Useful Production became a beacon for a democratic and ecological economics.

Its ideas live on as vivid, practical proof that there are alternatives to market-driven imperatives, high-carbon energy generation and manufacturing generally, the arms economy and the employment with which it has been associated. At the core of these alternatives is a participatory and productive form of democracy which releases, and harnesses for the benefit of society the human capacities which the private profit driven market deems “redundant”. Were Labour to make this approach central to its election campaign combined with a strengthening of EU restraints on corporate power, it would become the party able really “to take back control”.

This article was first published by the Independent.

Titanic Shipyard on cusp of closure

July 30, 2019 by

It is reported in the press today 30th July, that workers have urged the Government to nationalise Belfast’s under-threat shipyard as they launched a disruptive protest and hung a banner from one of its landmark cranes.  Trade unionists fear the Harland & Wolff yard, which built the Titanic, could close as early as this week.

 

 

Joseph Bell exchanges letters with J Bruce Ismay

July 25, 2019 by

Letter to Mr J Bruce Ismay from Joseph Bell at sea aboard R.M.S. Olympic on June 14th 1911:

Sir,

“In reply to your enquiry regarding visitors to Engine Rooms, I beg to state that three gentlemen have been in Engine Room during the passage from Southampton all by Mr Blake’s instruction, viz Mr Van Eldon and two gentlemen connected with a French Steamship Company, whose names I do not remember, but whom Mr Blake said had been sent to him by Mr Willett Bruce.

 Another gentleman presented himself this morning saying Mr Currie had instructed him to come to me; I refused him permission on his verbal statement.

 Your instructions’ shall be strictly obeyed”.

I am, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

J . Bell, Chief Engineer

 

 Letter from Mr J Bruce Ismay to Joseph Bell:

 “It came to my knowledge that some people had been down in the Engine Room during the passage from Southampton to Cherbourg. I therefore wrote to Mr Bell in regard thereto, and herewith enclose you his reply. I am sure you will share my surprise that Willett Bruce and Mr Blake should feel themselves justified in giving permission to the gentleman named to visit the Engine Room, and I shall be glad if you will ask them for their explanation for so doing”.