New Information Point for Memorial

May 31, 2019 by
Joseph Bell Info Point

The entry in the magazine ‘Cumbria Life’ June 2019 edition.

Memorial Information point

April 23, 2019 by

Joseph Bell was baptised in the church of St Thomas a Becket on the 4th of May 1861, and was named after both his grandfather and great-grandfather.

After Farlam village school he progressed to attending school in Carlisle. At age 15 he was apprenticed as an engine fitter at R & H Stephenson Company shipyard, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Having completed his apprenticeship in Newcastle, Joseph in 1883 entered the service of the Mercantile Marine sailing under the flag of the Liverpool & River Plate Steam Navigation Company for two years, then began his career with the White Star Line serving on some eighteen ships beginning with RMS Oceanic to RMS Titanic, covering the period from 1885 to his death in 1912.

The gravestone memorial in the old churchyard of St Thomas a Becket, Hallbankgate, is annotated with the following text:







“No greater love hath man than this. That a

man lay down his life for his friends”

info point [2]


Info point

107th Anniversary Titanic Sinking; Cobh remembers

April 10, 2019 by

On Sunday 14th April 2019, ceremonies will be held in Cobh to mark the 107th anniversary of the tragedy. The ceremonies, in the last port of call of the Titanic will remember all those who died when the ship sank, but in particular the passengers who boarded in Cobh. The ceremony which is an annual event organised by Cobh Tourism will start at 2.30pm.

For 2019 the proceedings will commence at the Titanic Memorial Garden at the east end of the Cobh waterfront, which overlooks the final anchorage of the Titanic. Here a ceremony of prayers and wreath laying will have musical honours provided by the Commodore Male Voice Choir. A wreath will be laid by the chairperson of Cobh Tourism, Jack Walsh, at the Glass Memorial wall which bears the names of the 123 Queenstown passengers.

Immediately afterwards (approx. 3.15pm) a Colour Party from the Cobh Branch O.N.E. will parade from the Old Town Hall at Lynch’s Quay to the Titanic Memorial in Pearse Square.

Here the names of the 79 passengers who boarded the Titanic in Cobh on 11th April 1912 and who perished in freezing waters of the North Atlantic less than four days later will be read out. Wreaths will then be placed at the Titanic Memorial in memory all those lost in the tragedy. The ceremonies will conclude with Cobh Confraternity Band’s rendition of the Last Post and Reveille.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Historical context

On 11th April 1912, Queenstown was the final port of call for the Titanic as she set out across the Atlantic on her maiden voyage. The 123 passengers boarding at Queenstown left from the White Star Line pier aboard the tenders Ireland and America which ferried them to the liner at anchor near Roche’s Point. Three were traveling first class, seven second class and the remainder steerage. Renowned photographer Fr. Frank Browne had traveled on the ship from Southampton and disembarked at Cobh. His photographs were the last taken on the Titanic.

In 2013 a Titanic Memorial Garden was opened in Cove Fort at the eastern end of Cobh Town. This secluded historic fort has spectacular views over Cork Harbour and overlooks the last anchorage of the Titanic. A Glass Memorial Wall within the garden has the names of the 123 passengers who boarded in Cobh and also a memorial stone to Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line who was travelling on the Titanic when it sank.

At the time Titanic was the largest and most luxurious liner afloat. At 882 feet long, 92 feet wide and weighing 46,000 tons it was powered by 29 coal-fired boilers which burned almost 700 tons of coal a day. Although it is dwarfed by today’s cruise liners it still ranks as one of the most famous and recognisable liners of all time. The facilities available to second class passengers were better than those of first class passengers on competing vessels. On this voyage there were over 2200 passengers and crew aboard. There were merely 1178 lifeboat spaces!

The RMS Titanic struck an iceberg shortly before midnight on 14th April 1912. Just over two hours of terror later the Titanic sank and almost 1500 people died in what is the most widely reported shipping disaster ever. Despite the freighter Californian being within 20 miles of the Titanic all night the ship’s radio operator was off duty and didn’t pick up the distress signals from the Titanic. The crew was therefore unaware of the unfolding disaster nearby. The first ship to arrive at the scene of the now sunk Titanic was the Cunard liner Carpathia. She picked up over 700 survivors and brought them to New York.

A year after the disaster, the first International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea was held in London. The convention made rules requiring that every ship have lifeboat space for each person onboard and that ships maintain a continuous radio watch.

On 1st September 1985, the wreck of the Titanic was found lying upright in two sections approximately 400 miles south of Newfoundland at a depth of almost 13,000 feet. Subsequent exploration of the ship by manned and unmanned submarines under the direction of American and French scientists found no sign of the long gash thought to have been ripped in the ship’s hull by the iceberg. It seems that a series of thin gashes as well as the separation of joints in the ship’s hull allowing water to flood in.

A wreath was laid at the Joseph Bell headstone memorial, in the Old Churchyard of St Thomas a Becket, Hallbankgate,  to honour him and his fellow engineers on this 107th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic.



Titanic Riveters

March 1, 2019 by


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.




Dawpool the Sailing Ship

January 2, 2019 by


Lai Fong, active c.1870-c.1905; 'Dawpool'

Thomas Henry Ismay on the launch date of 1st January 1880 named his new ship Dawpool, which was the name of his country home Dawpool Manor, Thurstaston, Wirral, overlooking the Dee estuary. He was a very wealthy shipping tycoon and Dawpool Manor was an indication of that success. This stately home was demolished in 1927.

The ship had changes of ownership and name; German ownership – 1895 to 1905 and renamed Willkommen, also Norwegian ownership – 1905 to 1917 and again renamed Vestely. The Vestely was scuttled on the 22nd April 1917 off the North West coast of County Donegal, Ireland.

Dawpool : Ship number 130

Sailing Ship Built Belfast

Launch date 1 January 1880

Delivered 24th January 1880

Owner North Western Shipping Co

Weight 1697grt

BP Length 256 ft

Breadth 38 ft

Propulsion Sail

Official No 81323

Registered Liverpool

More information about the Dawpool can be had on the website:

End of year Review 2018

December 31, 2018 by

The site has seen both an increase in visitors and views during the year, with the top three countries visitors being U.S.A., UK and Canada.  The three most visited items being TITANIC & THE COAL STRIKE, THE BELL FAMILY TREE & EXTRACT FROM: EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF.  Thank you for your ongoing interest in Joseph Bell.

Thank You Word Cloud

Poster for Titanic return voyage 1912

October 21, 2018 by

The poster as under was for sale by auction and  reached  the sum of £62,000.  It is stated that there might be only one or two of the original poster in existence and therefore very rare.  The poster was printed  prior to the sinking of Titanic in the early hours of the 15th of April 1912.

Titanic poster

John Henry Hesketh White Star Apprentice

October 2, 2018 by


The White Star Line Engineering  Works began in 1873 in Neptune Street, Liverpool, but because of the accelerating development of the line it had to relocate to larger premises in Strand Road, Bootle where it occupied c.440 square yards on three floors and being closer to the company’s ships.

The offices were on the ground floor with the brass foundry, blacksmith’s shops, general plumbing and victualling stores, boiler house, fitting shop and paint store.  On the first floor was the drawing office, opticians’ room, joiners’ shop, fitting shop, copper shop, upholsterers’ shop and laundry that was capable of dealing with thousands of pieces of linen a day.

The second floor contained the pattern makers’ stores, brass shop, sheet metal workers’ shop, japanning, brazing and silversmiths’ shops, upholsterers’ store, sail makers’ loft, and accommodation for the janitor.

John Henry Hesketh aka ‘Harry’ was the only Engineer who worked exclusively for the White Star Line from the start of his apprenticeship on 1st of May 1893 , until his death on Titanic 19 years later.  When J H Hesketh started his apprenticeship in 1893 aged 14, he would, because of his father’s job as an engine driver, already have a good appreciation of the workings of steam powered engines.  On many occasions he would have ridden with his father in the cab of his train.  After his six years as an apprentice Marine Engineer, he sailed to New York on the maiden voyage of SS Afric on 7th of February 1899,  returning briefly to the Engineering Works prior to the official start of his seagoing career.

SS Afric was a steamship built for White Star Line by Harland & Wolff shipyards. She was of the Jubilee Class, had a reported tonnage of 11,948, and had a port of registry of Liverpool  Afric was launched on November 16, 1898, and was involved in shipping between Liverpool and Australia.

SS Afric was the first of five Jubilee Class ships built by White Star Line for their new service to Australia, the others were Medic, Persic, Runic and Survic. Afric was a single funnel liner with capacity for 320 Third class passengers on three decks, she also had substantial cargo capacity with seven cargo holds, most of them refrigerated for the transport of Australian meat.

SS Afric made her maiden voyage on 8 February 1899, between Liverpool and New York, this was considered a test run, and when she returned she underwent further work to prepare her for her intended career on the Australia service. She entered service between Liverpool and Sydney via Cape Town on 9 September 1899.

During the Boer War from 1900 to 1902, Afric was used to transport troops and horses to South Africa on the outbound part of her journey, returning them to the UK on the return journey.

Experienced marine engineers were highly paid compared to the crew, not only because of their skills and the level  responsibility that the work involved, but also because they had been quite  scarce throughout the 19th Century.  Over the years many able Engineers found that they could not handle life at sea and despite their mechanical abilities, were forced to return to shore employment.  It took a special kind of person to deal with life at sea and with managing machinery.  Although not all firemen and trimmers were drunkards, many drank and were a tough lot who needed to be kept under control by the Engineer in charge of the watch.  It was rumoured that one Engineer who made enemies  in the Black Gang, went into a ships boiler room one night and was never seen again!  Another had his finger bitten off while trying to break up a fight.

On the 23rd of June 1909, The White Star Line declared its last year’s profit.  The White Star Company’s working profit for 1908 was £229,940, compared with £848,486 in 1907.  The company had 29 steamers, whose total tonnage was 386,000.  The late Mr T H Ismay founded it in 1869.  Steamers flying the White Star traded between England and America at first; now they run to the Mediterranean, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canadian ports.  The vessels in the New Zealand trade include the Athenic, Corinthic and Ionic.  Titanic’s keel was laid down in Belfast at yard No 401.

With appreciation and thanks to Chris Hughes great, great, niece of J H Hesketh.







Joseph Bell Autograph Discovered

August 22, 2018 by

An autograph book was discovered and included in an auction of miscellaneous items in Australia recently.  The book contained an autograph by Joseph Bell as illustrated below, who was then 1st Engineer aboard SS Suevic on her maiden voyage from Liverpool-Cape- Town-Sydney departing Liverpool on 21st March 1901.  On her outward voyage she carried troops to the Cape and on return, Australian contingents to the Boer War.

It is thought that while Suevic was docked in Sydney, some invited guests were aboard from the Brough Hospital of which J Bruce Ismay Ismay of the White Star Line was an investor in it’s construction in 1872, and this was the likely background to the origination of the autograph by Joseph Bell.

Autograph Joseph Bell  SS Suervic



Prime Titanic menu makes £100k at auction

April 23, 2018 by

A menu of the first meal ever served aboard the Titanic has fetched £100,000 at auction. The lunch, including consommé mirrette, sweetbreads and spring lamb, was served to officers on the first day of sea trials on 2 April 1912.

It belonged to Second Officer Charles Lightoller, the most senior crew member to survive, who gave it to his wife as he left Southampton on 10 April 1912. It was sold to a British collector at the auction at Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire on Saturday.

Andrew Aldridge, from the firm, said: “We are delighted with the results of the auction and think the rarity of the objects is reflected in the prices which illustrates the ongoing fascination with the story of the Titanic.”

He said items had been snapped up by collectors in “all four corners of the globe”.

On 2 April, on Titanic’s first day of sea trials, officers and crew enjoyed their first meal served in the main dining saloon before being joined by the passengers.

The menu was given to Charles Lightoller’s wife as a souvenir as he departed from Southampton on 10 April 1912

Mr Aldridge said it was believed only one other example of a 2 April menu had survived, which belonged to Titanic’s Fifth Officer Harold Lowe. “He wrote a notation on the bottom ‘this is first meal ever served on board’ however the bottom of the Lowe menu was removed,” he said.

“So this [the Charles Lightoller menu] is believed to be the only complete example and is one of the most important examples of its type in existence today.”

The Lowe menu sold at auction for £28,000 in 2004.

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