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“I Have Never Seen Such a Sky”: Vera & Albert Dick

"I Have Never Seen Such a Sky": Vera & Albert Dick

By the time he was 24 years old, Albert Adrian Dick was already on top of the world.

He and his brother had become two of the most successful and diversified business owners in Alberta, Canada. What had begun as a sawmill enterprise in 1904 had been so successful that their venture evolved, and soon thereafter also boasted a real-estate business, a three-story office building, and a hotel in Calgary called the Alexandra.

Bert, as he was known, took to high living throughout the remainder of his twenties, enjoying poker and the company of beautiful women.

But at the age of 31, Bert at last decided it was time to settle down.

So he did exactly that. He wooed and wed the beautiful--and young--Vera Gillepsie. She was 16 years old at the time, 14 years younger than he.

Their wedding was on May 31, 1911. On that very same day, across the Atlantic, the RMS Titanic was launched in Belfast.

The launch of the RMS Titanic in Belfast, Ireland, on May 11, 1911. Taken by John Westbeech Kempster.


Bert's ongoing work commitments delayed the couple's honeymoon until the winter of 1911. They traveled to Egypt, the Holy Land, France, and Italy.

Bert got into some trouble in Naples, though, when he was somehow swindled by professional gamblers. Vera was livid upon hearing the news.

Bert reportedly accompanied Vera on a lavish shopping spree on their return trip through London, in order to placate his new wife in her ire. They purchased a large number of replica antique furniture at that time, planning to furnish their new home, a Tudor-style mansion in the wealthy Mount Royal District in Calgary.

An eastward view of the intersection of 8th Avenue and Centre Streets, Calgary, Alberta Province, Canada, circa 1912.


By this point in her honeymoon travels, Vera was homesick and missing her mother fiercely--understandable, given that she was 17 years old. But she was enlivened to learn that Bert had booked passage on Titanic's maiden voyage for their return home, and Vera would meet so many glamorous, famous people.

Vera and Bert boarded Titanic at Southampton on April 10th as First-Class passengers. The couple occupied suite B-20; a lavish accommodation, surely, but not one of the exalted "Millionaires Suites" for which Vera had hoped.

In spite of this disappointment, Vera excited urged her husband up and down the ship. She wanted to examine and experience every opulent detail: the Grand Staircase, each First-Class public space, even the horse-riding machine in the gymnasium.

Unlike many of their peers in First Class, the Dicks were not accompanied by a maid or manservant. Vera, therefore, had to unpack her clothing on her own.

She claimed she was concerned about the range of sartorial choices she had available, as she had read in fashion magazines that fine ladies on board liners like Titanic changed their outfits upwards of four times a day.

And for that first dinner on board on April 10th, Vera was particularly anxious; she did not have the same sorts of jewels and finery as other First-Class women would.

That, accompanied by the fact that the Dicks might be perceived as Nouveau Riche by their fellow passengers, caused Vera an acute dread as she and Bert entered the reception room that night. Luckily for Vera, she eyed the other women in the area and her confidence returned. Yes, she had less gemstones, but she none the less felt very pretty.

Thomas Andrews, July 1911.


That night, Vera and Bert Dick befriended a distinguished passenger: Thomas Andrews, the chief architect for Harland & Wolff. They made pleasant and intellectual conversation; Mr. Andrews seemed to enjoy their company.

Once Vera and Albert were seated at their table, things got awkward.

Their steward, a dark-haired and attractive 20-year-old named Reginald Jones, took a shine to young Vera, and she to him. She chatted gaily and laughed with him about the menu and the ship, unabashedly enjoying their exchange.

Bert decidedly did not. Once they were alone, he scolded his wife for her mindless flirtation. It was simply indecent to have such familiarity with the waitstaff, he insisted.

Vera outright dismissed his admonishment and deliberately continued her friendly chatter with Reginald Jones throughout the meal.

Vera then became vexed, when immediately after dinner, Bert elected to retire to the men-only First-Class Smoking Lounge.

For a man with such a gambling habit, she felt very strongly that room of cigars and playing cards was a perilous place for her new husband to spend time.

The First-Class Smoking Lounge on Titanic’s older sister, Olympic, circa 1911. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


Other passengers supposedly overheard the couple's argument that night, and Vera told friends that they had fight after fight during the voyage.

On the evening of April 14th, Thomas Andrews invited the Dicks to dine with him at his table. Vera, though flattered, found herself bored. Bert and Mr. Andrews spoke of nothing but the technical and engineering aspects of the ship. And because they were seated at a different table than usual, Reginald Jones was not their steward.

The gentlemen were so engrossed that the party was the last to leave the dining saloon. They migrated to the Cafe Parisien for a late-night coffee.

Le Cafe Parisien on Titanic. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


After Vera and Albert had parted ways with Mr. Andrews, they took a brief stroll around deck. They quickly found it too cold to enjoy the exercise, and so they retired to bed.

According to Vera, they were once again arguing quite heatedly when they were startled by a noise "like a thunderclap," although in a contemporary report by the Calgary Herald, he supposedly did not find the shock terribly "severe." Per a contemporary report, Dick then went up on boat deck to hunt the cause of the disturbance, where he saw ice on the deck. He returned to Vera in their cabin.

And then, according to Vera and Bert, there was a rather urgent knock at their cabin door.

It was Reginald Jones.

He had wanted to warn the couple that a collision had occurred, and that the Captain had ordered all passengers to hasten to the boat deck with their lifebelts. Bert and Vera dressed--although Vera only in her nightgown and kimono--grabbed their lifebelts and went up on deck as Reginald Jones had advised.

[Vera] went up on deck with him, because she said she wanted to see an iceberg. They were assured by the officers that there was really no danger and were advised to go back to their cabins. They did so, but Dick himself was not absolutely assured of the ship’s safety. This uneasiness was caused, said Mr. Dick, “through a previous railway accident which I had undergone, which made me decide to make sure that everything was safe."

Once there, the Dicks saw that many other First-Class passengers were simply milling about without direction. Reticent to enter the lifeboats that were being launched before their eyes, Vera and Bert wondered if it would be prudent to remain on the ship.

But then they encountered Thomas Andrews. He advised his new friends to get into a lifeboat immediately. Mr. Andrews delivered a bewildered Vera and dazed Bert to First Officer William Murdoch, who was launching odd-numbered lifeboats off the starboard side. "More passengers for you, sir," he said to Officer Murdoch. And then Thomas bid Vera and Bert farewell.

Vera reported that during this time, Reginald Jones found them once again, and urged her to put her lifebelt on, instead of carrying it as she had been. "Put your lifejacket on, ma'am," she claimed he urged her. "It's the latest thing this season."

As Vera and Bert embraced in parting, Officer Murdoch reportedly pushed Bert by the shoulder and urged him to follow his wife into Lifeboat 3.

Mr. Dick complied.

“During the lowering of the boat – which was 70 feet above the water – several times we were in danger of being “upended” as the new rope would not work well. However, we got afloat and safely away from the ship and cautiously picked our way among the large masses of floating ice. We had some difficulty at first in finding the oars, but I eventually found one and with the stokers commenced to row. I rowed all night until I was completely played out. We saw the great liner plunge to her water grave and heard the awful cries of the drowning people after the boat had disappeared."

While in the lifeboat, Vera whispered in awe to Bert. "I have never seen such a sky... even in Canada, where we have such clear nights." Floating in the dark and without a lantern, the crewman in the lifeboat took to lighting matches to check the time.

Once on board the rescue ship Carpathia, Vera collapsed in a deck chair in tears.

The Dicks later discovered that tragically, Thomas Andrews had not survived the sinking. And neither had Reginald Jones.

Vera and Bert were interviewed by the media after they disembarked from the rescue ship Carpathia in New York City. In these reports, it certainly seems that the Vera's youthful naivete was amplified for entertainment's sake.

“We were hurried helter-skelter into the lifeboats,” she said as she clung with a vise-like grip to her husband’s arm.

“Did you save any clothing!” someone asked.

“My nightgown and kimono,” she replied.

Then, pointing to a white worsted cap that she wore Mrs. Dick said: “I bought this thing in the barber shop on board the Carpathia.”

But this was hardly the most damaging representation of the Dicks due to the disaster. Specifically, Bert Dick was scrutinized and ostracized for his survival. Like other men who were rescued in lifeboats that night, he was accused of dressing in women's clothing to be permitted to board. His objections that he had been urged into the lifeboat by the First Officer--and that he had been one of twenty or so men in that same lifeboat--did nothing to sway public opinion.

As a result, the society elites of Calgary stopped patronizing Bert's hotel. Eventually, he sold it and turned his attention to real estate.

Yet, Bert seemed unaffected by this loss. He had been set right, he said, by the Titanic disaster. In the Dicks' interview with the aforementioned Calgary Herald just two weeks after the sinking, Bert said. “This is the most trying experience that I have ever gone through, and I will never forget the awful cries and moaning of the drowning, struggling people," He put his arm around Vera. "But it is to this little woman that I owe my life.”

And in an interview with the periodical Maclean Magazine, Bert is quoted as a changed man. "[Before Titanic] I thought of nothing but money... The Titanic cured me of that. Since then I have been happier than I ever was before."

Vera and Dick went on to have a daughter named Gilda, and they were married for the rest of their lives. He died in 1970; she, in 1973.

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“Here, There, and Everywhere”: Chief Designer Thomas Andrews

"Here, There, and Everywhere": Chief Designer Thomas Andrews

As a child, Thomas Andrews, Jr., was fond of horses and beekeeping. He was a competitive cricket player.

And of course, he really enjoyed boats.

Thomas Andrews. Taken on July 7, 1911.


Thomas, who often was called “Tommie”, was 16 years old when he was granted a privileged apprenticeship at Harland & Wolff in 1889. This was convenient, since his uncle was none other than Lord William Pirrie, partner of the firm.

Though Thomas's parents were still, of course, required to pay for the opportunity.

Lord William Pirrie's office at Harland & Wolff, where Thomas Andrews undoubtedly spent time. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


During this five-year apprenticeship, Thomas’s daytime hours were spent working in various departments, including the cabinetmakers and draughting office, throughout the firm. And at night, he attended technical college.

In late 1894, he took a proper job at the shipyard; in 1907, he became the managing director of the Draughting Office. Good news, that, as he was engaged to be married.

At the time, Thomas was engaged to Helen Reilly Barbour, who he called Nellie. Apparently, he had proposed to her rather abruptly back in 1906, according to a remorseful letter he sent to her on March 25 of that year. "My dear Nellie," he wrote, "I cannot tell you how much it grieves me to feel that I frightened or gave you any annoyance last night."

Nellie clearly forgave him for his impulsivity, though, and they married in 1908. They had a daughter, nicknamed Elba because of her initials, in 1910.

Thomas with his wife Nellie and daughter Elba. Taken November 29, 1910.


So it was in 1907, after having been promoted, that Thomas began a new project: a line of triplet luxury liners for the White Star Line, beginning with the R.M.S. Olympic.

The draughting office. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


Now by the time of this well-earned promotion, "Tommie" was an extremely popular guy in the yard.

Vera Morrison, who is Nellie's daughter from her second marriage, recounted a story her mother had told her of Thomas’s popularity at Harland & Wolff.

He told Nellie when they were driving out of the shipyard one day together that all the workers who were coming out were his mates. He was so very popular and dearly loved, I think, by so many people.

This anecdote goes hand-in-hand with a biography of Thomas Andrews by Shan Bullock, which was published in 1912.

He would share his lunch with a mate, toil half the night in relief of a fellow-apprentice who had been overcome by sickness, or would plunge gallantly into a flooded hold to stop a leakage. “It seemed his delight,” writes a foreman, “to make those around him happy. His was ever the friendly greeting and the warm handshake and kind disposition.” Such testimony is worth pages of outside eulogy, and testimony of its kind, from all sorts and conditions, exists in abundance.

Despite his esteem, tenure, and status at the shipyard, some of Thomas’s suggestions for the White Star superliners—including a minimum of 46 lifeboats and watertight bulkheads reaching up to B Deck—went unheeded.

Deck plans of the R.M.S. Titanic, as used for reference in the Senate Inquiry.


Thomas had been on the maiden voyages of the Adriatic, Oceanic, and Olympic, so the choice to sail on Titanic was routine--so much so that Chief Baker Charles Joughin had a customary loaf of bread made especially for him at the start of each journey.

None of this is to say that Thomas wasn’t enthused about his newest ship. He wrote the following to Nellie while in Southampton.

The Titanic is now about complete and will I think do the old Firm credit tomorrow when we sail.

Henry Etches, a steward who had also worked on Olympic, attended to Thomas’s needs on board, taking him “some fruit and tea” and helping him to dress in his evening wear every night.

“That would be about a quarter or 20 minutes to 7, as a rule,” Etches said. “He was rather late in dressing.”

By all accounts, Thomas spent his time roaming all about the gargantuan ship looking for improvements to be made. He always took down the minutest of details in his notebook, such as an excess of screws in the stateroom hat hooks and the color of the red tiling on the promenade deck being just a touch too dark.

Etches testified to as much at the American inquiry. When asked by Senator Smith if Mr. Andrews had been busy and worked nights, Etches replied as follows.

He was busy the whole time… He had charts rolled up by the side of his bed, and he had papers of all descriptions on his table during the day… He was working all the time, sir. He was making notes of improvements; any improvements that could be made… during the day I met him in all parts, with workmen, going about. I mentioned several things to him, and he was with workmen having them attended to. The whole of the day he was working from one part of the ship to the other… I happened to meet him at different parts of Deck E more often than anywhere else.

According to Etches, he also knew that Thomas visited the boiler rooms, as he saw the suit that he wore when visiting the boilers discarded on Thomas’s bed.

Thomas’s perfectionism and meticulous attention to detail, however, should not be taken as an implication that he was not pleased with Titanic on the whole. He is reported to have said to first-class survivor Albert Dick, whom Thomas had befriended on board, “I believe her to be nearly as perfect as human brains can make her.”

Thomas routinely worked into the late hours, and is reported to have been awake and working at the time of the collision with the iceberg. Immediately thereafter, he was witnessed taking emergency tours of the ship. Per survivor Albert Dick, as reported in Shan Bullock’s biography of Thomas Andrews:

He was on hand at once and said that he was going below to investigate. We begged him not to go, but he insisted, saying that he knew the ship as no one else did and that he might be able to allay the fears of the passengers. He went.

Steward James Johnstone reported that while he was in the dining saloon, he saw Mr. Andrews run down toward the Boiler Room, followed by Captain Smith.

Johnstone said that while he was stuffing four oranges in his pockets, Thomas resurfaced. Johnstone followed him down to E-Deck, where he watched him descend further still to the mail rooms.

When he peered after Thomas running down the stairwell, he saw water flooding in.

Thomas, who was without a hat and had an insufficient coat for the ocean night-chill, was also witnessed personally seeing to getting passengers to wear their lifebelts and enter lifeboats throughout the entire sinking.

Jack Thayer wrote in his account that he and his parents were directly approached by Thomas.

We saw, as they passed, Mr. Ismay, Mr. Andrews and some of the ship’s officers. Mr. Andrews told us he did not give the ship much over an hour to live. We could hardly believe it, and yet if he said so, it must be true. No one was better qualified to know.

Excerpt from "The Sinking of the S.S. Titanic" by Jack Thayer.

Jack's encounter is hardly unique. Given Thomas’s famed congeniality and his apparent omnipresence on the ship, he was highly esteemed by many passengers and was often stopped for a comforting word or further information about what was really going on. He makes appearances in many survivor accounts.

The testimony of Mr. Etches at the Senate Inquiry sheds light on Thomas’s calm but urgent direction to the stewards, as well as attests to his overwhelming concern for the passengers.

[I saw Mr. Andrews at] 20 minutes past 12. He stopped me. I was going along B Deck, and he asked had I waked all my passengers… Mr. Andrews then told me to come down on C Deck with him, and we went down the pantry staircase together. Going down he told me to be sure and make the passengers open their doors, and to tell them the lifebelts were on top of the wardrobes and on top of the racks, and to assist them in every way I could to get them on, which I endeavored to do.

We walked along C Deck together. The purser was standing outside of his office, in a large group of ladies. The purser was asking them to do as he asked them, and to go back in their rooms and not to frighten themselves, but, as a preliminary caution, to put the lifebelts on, and the stewards would give them every attention. Mr. Andrews said: "That is exactly what I have been trying to get them to do," and, with that, he walked down the staircase to go on lower D Deck. That is the last I saw of Mr. Andrews.

Stewardess Mary Sloan likewise was awed by Thomas’s calm and determined selflessness, despite the fact that his face “had a look as though he were heart-broken”.

She said, “He was here, there, and everywhere, looking after everybody… thinking of everybody but himself.”

Stwardess Annie Robinson’s report likewise speaks to Thomas’s drive to protect those on board. After asking her to open up all the unoccupied rooms and distribute their lifebelts and blankets, as well as to make sure all the ladies had left their rooms, he gently chided her for not wearing her own lifebelt. Per the biography of Thomas Andrews written by Shan Bullock, their exchange went like this.

“Did I not tell you to put on your life-belt. Surely you have one?”

She answered, “Yes, but I thought it mean to wear it.”

“Never mind that,” said he. “Now, if you value your life, put on your coat and belt, then walk round the deck and let the passengers see you.”

“He left me then,” writes the stewardess, “and that was the last I saw of what I consider a true hero and one of whom his country has cause to be proud.”

All of his bravery and pro-activity is belied by perhaps the most famous of all Titanic’s oft-called Last Sightings: that of Thomas Andrews, standing mute, dazed, and lifebelt-less at the fireplace of the First-Class Smoking Room.

Starboard view of the First-Class Smoking Room on Olympic. Thomas Andrews was encountered by the fireplace in Titanic's identical room.


This comes from First-Class Steward John Stewart, who was one of two stewards charged with the Verandah Café. Per the Bullock biography, Stewart’s encounter went thusly.

[Stewart] saw him standing along in the smoking room, his arms folded over his breast and the belt lying on a table near him, "Aren't you going to have a try for it, Mr. Andrews?"

He never answered or moved. "Just looked like one stunned."

Thing is, this wasn’t the last sighting of Thomas Andrews.

And it was never purported to be.

While Thomas was indeed seen in the Smoking Room, the timeline for this particular Last Sighting is just plain off. Stewart stated that he saw Mr. Andrews only minutes before he took to Lifeboat 15, which left the ship at 1:40a.m. The ship did not sink until 2:20a.m.

It’s a heartbreaking moment for sure, but it was never set forth as Thomas’s last moments alive.

In truth, Bullock states directly thereafter that Thomas was seen on deck during Titanic' final few minutes; he was throwing deck chairs and anything else to hand overboard before being washed off the deck. And as per Mess Steward William Fitzpatrick and disclosed by the authors of “On a Sea of Glass,” he was last witnessed being washed off the bridge alongside or nearby Captain Smith.

Thomas's body was never recovered.

On April 19, 1912, the Andrews family in Belfast received the telegram they’d dreaded.

Interview Titanic’s officers. All unanimous Andrews heroic until death, thinking only safety others. Extend heartfelt sympathy to all.

He was 39 years old.

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“Titanic Behaved Splendidly”: Titanic’s Sea Trials

"Titanic Behaved Splendidly": Titanic's Sea Trials

Titanic’s sea trials—when the ship’s many safety features were tested in real time—were scheduled to begin on Sunday, April 1, 1912, but poor weather conditions and a detrimental northwesterly wind caused the trials to be postponed to Monday morning.

Aboard were just over 40 crewmembers. They were compensated an extra five shillings for the delay.

Captain Edward J. Smith.


The roster of officers reporting to Captain Smith for sea trials were as follows.

Chief Officer William McMaster Murdoch

First Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller

Second Officer David Blair

Third Officer Herbert John Pitman

Fourth Officer Joseph Groves Boxhall

Fifth Officer Harold Godfrey Lowe

Sixth Officer James Pell Moody

The four junior officers received telegrams from the White Star marine superintendent to report to the Liverpool offices at 9am on March 26th, to pick up their trains tickets for their trip to Belfast.

They arrived around noon the next day on March 27th and reported on board to Chief Officer Murdoch. Notably, in his deposition later, Fifth Officer Harold Lowe attested to a March 29th arrival.

Fifth Officer Lowe and Sixth Officer Moody were instructed to inspect the totality of starboard-side lifeboats, including the collapsibles. Together, they conducted an inventory of life-saving materials such as oars, sail riggings, and tarp; he also recalled that he noted one empty "bread tank" in each of the lifeboats but none in the collapsible boats, nor emergency lanterns in any of the boats at all.

Captain Edward J. Smith boarded on April 1st, and with him came an officer arrangement that upended the ship's commanding hierarchy. At the last minute, he announced his intention to bring on Henry Tingle Wilde as Chief Officer.

So William Murdoch and Charles Lightoller were both demoted to First and Second Officers, respectively.David Blair was dismissed from command altogether, which safeguarded the remaining junior officers from a reshuffle themselves.

Titanic Chief Officer Henry Tingle Wilde in Royal Naval dress.


When Former-Second Officer Blair disembarked in Southampton, he disembarked with his keys... including the key to the locker for the Crow’s Nest. This secure cabinet is where implements were housed for the lookouts.

Including binoculars.

George Hogg, a surviving lookout on Titanic, testified to the Senate regarding David Blair's actions as he was set to depart at Southampton, having been dismissed from his duties.

Mr. Blair was in the crow's-nest and gave me his glasses, and told me to lock them up in his cabin and to return him the keys... I locked [the binoculars] up... There were none when we left Southampton.

It is sometimes implied that Blair did this nefariously as some Shakespearean act of revenge due to his dismissal, but in reality, it was industry practice to lock up the binoculars when a ship was docked.

Other accounts state that David Blair took the binoculars with him because they were his own personal pair.

Regardless, Now-Second Officer Lightoller could not provide the lookouts with binoculars. He didn’t think too much of it, as there were other glasses on board somewhere and the lookouts could spot without them, being at such a height as the lookouts were, so he promised to pick up a new pair in New York City.

And that was that.

Charles H. Lightoller, who was demoted to Second Officer on Titanic.


Titanic was the second sibling in a set of triplets; her elder sister, Olympic, underwent her sea trials beginning on May 29, 1911, and ran for two days. They were not without difficulties.

According to Tom McCluskie, a historian for Harland & Wolff, “The extensive sea trials found that there was a number of problems. Chief architect Thomas Andrews himself wrote in his design notebook that Olympic’s hull was observed to “pant.”

As McCluskie describes it, “[Panting] means the hull—instead of being rigidly straight—is going in and out. Now it’s not a vast movement, it’s not going out three, four feet and coming in; it’s a matter only of inches. But really, it shouldn’t do that on a calm sea.”

This discovery led architect Thomas Andrews to implement changes to his nearly identical work-in-progress, Titanic. Per McCluskie, Andrews “made reference to it on the shell drawing which he modified for Titanic to include extra stiffening.”

Sister ships Olympic (close to dock) and Titanic. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


Despite these changes and the flaws in Olympic that incited them, Titanic only undertook a single day of sea trials.

J. Bruce Ismay, White Star’s chairman, could not attend, nor could Lord William Pirrie owing to a bout of pneumonia. So he sent his nephew, Thomas Andrews—conveniently the ship’s lead designer—in his stead.

Around 6 a.m., Harland & Wolff’s own tug boat, called Hercules because he was mighty strong, arrived and cast the first line aboard Titanic as it slept in its berth. The four tugs assisting Hercules, which were owned by the Alexandra Towing Co.—and named Huskisson, Horby, Herald, and Herculaneum—moved into their positions, and at Hercules’s whistle, the H-Team pulled Titanic to the center of the River Lagan.

Titanic on her way to sea trials accompanied by her fleet of tugs. Courtesy of U.S. N.A.R.A.


The behemoth liner eased her way down the river toward Belfast Lough, escorted by the five tugs. Around noontime, and about two miles off Carrickfergus, the herd of vessels slowed to a stop, and the tugs all dropped their ropes and pulled away.

Boilers were lit one by one, and smoke began to bloom from Titanic’s three functional funnels (the fourth was false, for aesthetical purpose).

Captain Smith ordered the blue-and-white burgee, which is more commonly recognized as a triangular mariner’s flag. This type of burgee, known as Signal Flag A, announced that its ship was undergoing sea trials.

As the water churned at her stern and her dapper burgee clapped above her, Captain Smith ordered a three-blast sounding of Titanic’s horn and her trial-run officially began. As Titanic took its first metaphorical steps, the officials and officers on-board took lunch in the First Class Dining Room to compare notes.

Rear view of Titanic being pulled toward Belfast Lough. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


Titanic was revved up to nearly 20 knots, then drifted to a stop. Isolated turn maneuvers, such as rudder-only and propeller-only, were performed. The ship’s wheel was ordered “hard over” while Titanic was traversing a straight path, creating a circular path with a diameter of approximately 3,850 yards.

More stopping tests followed, including running right toward a buoy at full speed.

She then traveled about 40 miles toward the Irish Sea, turned about to head back to Belfast Lough, and performed some twisty-turns to port and starboard along the way, and got back home in the evening time.

One more test was then advised by Francis Carruthers, the ship surveyor sent by the British Board of Trade: Anchor up, and anchor down.

Carruthers found Titanic’s performance satisfactory and issued the mandatory certificate to Thomas Andrew and his deputy, Edward Wilding. The ship was officially good for one year to the day.

With the sea trials done and dusted, the crew on board resumed their daily operations. Fifth Officer Harold Lowe set aside some time to write back to his wife, Nellie. He helped himself to a spare menu card from the day, April 2nd, and scrawled on its back along the bottom edge: "first meal ever served on board" and posted it to Nellie.

R.M.S. "Titanic."

April 2, 1912.

Hors D'Ouvre Varies


Consomme Mirrette

Cream of Chicken



Roast Chicken

Spring Lamb, Mint Sauce

Braised Ham & Spinach

Green Peas                                Cauliflower

Bovin & Boiled Potatoes

Golden Plover on Toast


Pudding Sans Souci

Peaches Imperial


Dessert                          Coffee

Later, sworn under oath before the American inquiry of Titanic's sinking, Harold Lowe testified that Titanic did not even reach her full potential for speed during the sea trials. He stated that he believed that she could "easily do 24 or 25 knots,” instead of the 20 knots achieved that day.

Furthermore, in his deposition sworn before the British Consulate General in May of 1912, Harold Lowe attested that "on the trials the Titanic behaved splendidly and manoeuvred very well."

Titanic being pulled toward Belfast Lough. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.


Titanic departed Belfast for Southampton at approximately 8:00pm that evening. She encountered fog in the wee hours of April 3rd, though it dissipated by noon.

And shortly after midnight, on April 4th, another tugboat gang of classical gods and guys—this time Hercules, Neptune, Ajax, Hector, and Vulcan of the Red Funnel line—drew Titanic into Berth 44 at Southampton, where she was "docked by moonlight," per Sixth Officer James Moody.

Titanic would spend the Easter weekend there, waiting for her maiden voyage to begin. James Moody wrote to his older sister Margaret that, at 8:00am on the morning of April 4th, Titanic's crew “hoisted a huge rainbow of flags right over the ship, 220 flags [altogether and] 9 feet apart” to salute the Southampton

There was less than a week to go.

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