THE TRAVELLING HISTORIAN -- QUEEN VICTORIA II

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CIRCLING THE SCEPTRED ISLES
Part II

Circling the Sceptred Isle

ON

Queen Victoria
photo by
G. Wilson

From Cherbourg we cruised back across the English Channel to our next port of call, Cobh, a sea-port town on the southeast coast of County Cork, Ireland. Cork ranks with Halifax as one of the world's largest natural harbours and is a major port of call for all manner of sea-going vessels.

Cobh pronounced 'Cove'.
photo by
G. Wilson

This port bade farewell to 2.5 million folk fleeing their beautiful homeland to find a better future across the sea. The names of those who left are listed in the logs of the coffin ships, early steamers and great ocean liners, all carefully recorded for the ages in the Cobh museum. Among the third-class passengers were Eliza Johnston, her husband, Andrew, their two children and Eliza's sister, Margaret with her husband and four children. They were emigrating to Connecticut, all lured there for a better life. Eliza purchased the postcard on board the Titanic after leaving Southampton and before docking at Queenstown. She sent it to her father-in-law, William J Johnston and on it, she describes how excited the six children in her company were to be on the vessel .All nine drowned. They were among 700 third class passengers who died when the ship sank. None of their bodies was recovered. That postcard was found recently and is expected to sell at auction for £15,000..

Called Coffin ships for good reason, those cramped, crowded, disease-ridden craft provided poor access to food and water, but they offered the cheapest way to a life in a new land. Many of the poor souls would never see those sunny shores, for they were fated to feed the sharks that followed the ships.

Anne and her children were among those millions, she the first to enter the US through the newly opened Ellis Island receiving centre.
photo by
B. Wilson

Cobh said goodbye as well to thousands of prisoners from the overcrowded jails and prison ships, deported to distant penal colonies like Van Dieman's Land, now Tasmania, an Australian state. A good many of these unfortunates drowned en route, their old ships simply too ill-equipped to last for the long, dangerous voyage.

Prison Ship

Sharks followed them for food and one with a religious bent bit off a Bible. The Good Book was found in its belly, "not a leaf of it defaced." It was subsequently confirmed that the Bible belonged to Botany-Bay-bound convict, one of the first group sent to a fate at the ends of the earth. Among those unfortunate souls were a number of Upper Canadians, Mackenzie's rioting rebels transported for committing crimes against their king to Van Dieman's land.

Australians were on the Trafalgar tour and several mentioned that having prisoner ancestors made one a member of a select group. All were quite proud of their penal pedigree. One of them has undertaken to research the female prisoners and document details about their lives.

Cobh was the last sight of life on land for thousands of happy souls, many among them Irish emigrants, seeking a better life across the sea. Rich and poor aboard the great ship loved, laughed and cheered, never wondering for a moment about the fearful fate that could await them, for their vaunted vessel, Titanic, was bound for the bottom of the sea.

Vaunted Vessel, RMS Titanic

>

That ill-fated ship will fascinate forever, its once-proud presence deep down among the fishes and the flotsam. After almost a hundred years, that subject of an enduring disaster story is currently being photographed in 3D for all to see in greater ghastly detail.

Titanic Memorial
Honors all who died when the unthinkable happened and the unsinkable sank on 15 April 1912.

A second luxury liner destined for the deep is also honoured in this seaport city. The Lusitania left New York on its 101st transatlantic crossing. It along with its sister ship, Mauretania, was the first of Cunard's 'floating palaces.' Lusitania provided a fast and for first-class passengers, a luxurious crossing of the Atlantic. When war broke out, Mauretania was enlisted, but Lusitania continued to serve as a passenger ship. On this her last trip, she carried in addition to her passengers, small arms, ammunition and shrapnel shells, this caustic cargo justified, declarded the Germans, the perpetration of a terrible tragedy. On Friday afternoon, 7 May 1915, as Lusitania made her way to her last stop at Liverpool, she was torpedoed by U20 and sank within 18 minutes. Its wreck lies approximately 11 km (7 miles) off the Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse in 91m (300 feet) of water. Of the 1898 aboard, 1198 passengers perished. Over 140 unidentified corpses were interred in the Old Church Cemetery just north of the town.

Peace Memorial to Lusitania's Lost
photo by
B. Wilson

An impressive monument memorializes the men and women who died that day. The captain of our ship, Queen Victoria, attended a memorial ceremony in Cobh's Casement Square, where he placed a wreath to remember and lament the loss of life aboard the luxury ship, Lusitania.

We chose different tours and Geri selected Blarney Castle, the site of a ceremony, daunting and requiring great dexterity.

Blarney Castle
photo by
G. Wilson

No sissy kisses the Blarney Stone, for reaching that fabled rock requires spirit, strength and stamina. It is high atop the tower of Blarney Castle, necessitating a climb that is difficult and physically demanding.

Cramped climb to Castle top
photo by
G. Wilson

Once atop the tower, one takes the bends, for the huge stone is embedded in the outside wall in an almost inaccessible location for lips and takes a contortionist to confront it head on. It is necessary to lie on one's back with arms outstretched behind, while holding tightly to two posts. This painful pose permits the person to kiss the Blarney Stone. The reward for accomplishing this agonizing act - the gift of eloquence. What price preaching.

Kinked Kissing Causes Cramps.
photo by
G. Wilson

Bill's tour was less troublesome and much tastier - a visit to an 18th century brewery, Jameson's Whiskey Distillery, that still makes fine Irish whisky. We listened, learned and at last sampled the product and found it fine.

Jameson's Finest
photo by
B Wilson

Two main ingredients for liquor are barley and great water. This giant wheel brought and still brings the latter into the brewery.
photo by
B Wilson

On to Dublin's fair city.

Dublin is the largest city and capital of Ireland. Its English name comes from the Irish, Subh Linn, meaning "black pool". Founded by the Vikings, it evolved into the Kingdom of Dublin and became the major city following the Norman invasion. Its world famous literary history produced such prominent writers as William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. Other influential authors include: Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and the creator of Dracula, Bram Stoker.

Downtown Dublin was a busy place, huge, yellow double-deckers and all kinds of taxis zipping about the buses as their drivers scoured the streets for flagging fares as they flew by. I took two cabs to get to and from St. Patrick's Cathedral. Both drivers were older men. One lauded his luck; the other lamented the lack of business. Both fine fellows quickly apologized for thinking me a Yank. One had been to Toronto and liked the city. The other said fear of fighting in Northern Ireland was exaggerated. He drove to Belfast in two hours fairly frequently and had never encountered trouble. Nor did we while there. Just pick your part of town with care.

Downtown Dublin
photo by
G. Wilson

Dublin's dazzling structures
photo by
G. Wilson

Dublin Bridge
photo by
G. Wilson

Along with a good many others, we visited Trinity College to see its highly esteemed, Book of Kells. We entered a darkened room where we viewed that ancient and very valuable book featuring the four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It contains 340 leaves made of thick-glazed vellum or parchment, each richly adorned with coloured ink and elaborate, delicate tracery of spirals, whorls, discs and dots. The handwriting that is bold, well-rounded and beautifully clean and clear. The initial letters in each paragraph are intricately illuminated. Well worth the wait to see one of Ireland's greatest treasures.

Trinity College
photo by
G. Wilson

Book of Kells
photo by
G. Wilson

Next Geri headed for Malahide Castle, the beautiful ancestral home of one of Upper Canada's controversial characters - Thomas Talbot. The Talbot name is honoured among English nobility. In 1174 as a reward for aiding Henry II, Richard Talbot was granted the fief of Malahide, located on the east coast of Dublin. Here he built his castle, still standing after nearly 900 years.The turreted walls and round towers of its lofty battlements can be seen from Malahide Bay.

Malahide Castle
photo by
G. Wilson

Malahide Castle Turret
photo by
G. Wilson

The core of the medieval castle is the oak room, approached by a winding stone staircase and lit by Gothic windows added in 1820 when the room was enlarged and the front hall below was created. The room contains fine carved panelling, mostly of sixteenth-century date, which has darkened to a gleaming ebony.

In the late 19th century, Richard Wogan Talbot, the 5th Lord, married Emily, great grand-daughter of James Boswell, biographer of Dr. Samuel Johnson. The contents of the Boswell house came to Malahide castle in 1914 - including the famous cabinet in which the world celebrated Boswell papers were discovered in the 1920s. The ebony desk remained there until 1976.

Thomas Talbot was born here in 1771 and came to Canada in 1790, where he served as a military aid to John Graves Simcoe. In 1801 as a private citizen and agent of the government, he was entrusted with settling land from Long Point to the Detroit River, a distance of some one hundred and thirty miles. [*] His control over development of this land was almost as absolute as a medieval feudal baron. This little autocrat lorded it over all and sundry, granting land to those who met with his approval and withholding it from those who did not. Names were written on grants in pencil and failure to follow his regulations as to residence and labour resulted in erasure and the loss of one's land.

Thomas began to build his own residence, Malahide House in 1806 and completed the main part of it in 1833. A guest house was added in 1848. The house, which was sold in 1987, contained some of the Old Colonel's furniture including his bed in the north room. Historically-minded citizens, fought a long battle to hve the house made a National or Provincial Historic Site, but to no avail. Unlike Malahide Castle over 'ome, sadly Malahide House here was demolished in 1997.

Warned by Brock to prepare to meet invading Americans, Talbot had difficultly raising a militia, his pompous unpopularity a big factor. Like many Upper Canadians, Talbot had serious doubts that a few Canadians could ever defeat the American hordes. Brock's shock at his negativity turned to contempt when Talbot informed him that he hoped his leisurely life, comparable to that of a count in the country, would not have to be sacrificed by prolonged futile fighting. When the conflict came, however, the colonials rose to the occasion and the old colonel expressed satisfaction with his militia, "whose ardour was greatly increased by the support of the British 19th Light Dragoons."

[*] Fast forward May 1991 - $70-million resort eyed for Lake Erie homestead of Colonel Thomas Talbot. This complex involves two 18-hole golf courses, a marina, a private bording school and a hotel. The site located on a wooded bluff overlooking Lake Erie, is the home of bald eagles and 14-species of rare plants. The development proposal is expected to receive close scrutiny from nature groups.

St. Patrick's Cathedral
photo by
B Wilson

Jonathan Swift

Meanwhile Will toured St. Patrick's Anglican Cathedral, whose Dean for 29 years (1713-1742), was Jonathan Swift. The place was crowded with many intent on photographing and buying books on Swift, the great cathedral and its interesting contents.

Swift in the Dean's Chair

Our tours unexpectedly involved Johnson and Swift, whose lives crossed paths too, althought the two men never met. Samuel Johnson wanted a teaching position for which he needed a degree in a hurry. Because he was a writer with a growing reputation, a friend felt Johnson deserved to get his degree. He wrote to a friend of Swift's to inquire whether Swift would recommend to Dublin University, from which Swift had graduated, that it grant a Master of Arts degree to Johnson. In those days influence worked this way and it was thought a word from the prestigious Dean of St.Patrick's would convince his old university to grant a purely cosmetic, mail-order degree to Johnson. Samuel said he would even be willing to travel all the way to Dublin, if necessary, to sit for any kind of examination.

Swift did not know Johnson at the time. It is not known whether Swift ever received the request or whether he did and his word failed to accomplish the favour. In any case, the degree was never granted. Johnson did not know why, but he assumed the worst, resented it and reflected his chagrin when he wrote his Lives of the Poets. In his life of Swift, he indicated that when Swift was a student at Trinity College, Swift had been found to be "conspicuously deficient" by the examiner and had obtained his bachelor's degree at long last by special favour, a term used at that university to denote want of merit. Johnson also had reservations about Swift's competetence as a writer, doubting he really wrote some of the better stuff.

There were sad similarities in the lives of the two men who never met. Johnson like aged Swift was, "Deaf, giddy, helpless, left alone. To all my friends a Burthen grown." Swift went mad at the end of his life and his mercenary servants exhibited him drooling and idiotic to the gaping public.

Both were men whose minds died before reaching the "Strange Other World."

Like Johnson, he was obsessed with death, often melancholy and terrified of insanity. Swift pointed to a tree top where the leaves had died and said, "I shall be like that tree; I shall die at the top." He hated solitude and felt conversation was, "the greatest softener of the ills of life."

Swift was a dedicated dean, who performed his offices with decency and exactness. Generous to the poor, he vigorously defended the rights of the oppressed Irish.

Some sources say he was always hoping for a call to a more prestigious position in England. He was active in politics and perhaps he may have offended or angered Queen Anne in some way, either by what he said or wrote. In any case the call never came.

Swift's sweetheart, Esther Johnson, was a girl he named, Stella, about whose relationship there was constant gossip. They are thought to have secretly married. She died before him and he rushed back from England to be at her side before she passed away.

Swift wrote this prayer on 6 November 1827; Stella died on 28 January 1828.

"Forgive the sorrow and weakness of those among us who sink under the grief and terror of losing so dear and useful a friend. Accept and pardon our most earnest prayers and wishes for her continuance in this evil world, that she may still be a comfort to us, who will want the benefit of her conversation, her advice, her good offices and her charity."

A lock of her hair was found among his papers. Swift asked to be buried by her side.

Swift's Tomb
photo by
B Wilson

Swift wrote his own epitaph.

Swift has sailed into his rest.
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him, if you dare,
World-besotted traveller.
He served human liberty.

Stella's Tomb
photo by
B. Wilson

Their tombs coupled together forever.
photo by
B. Wilson

Swift and Stella's tombs are immediately inside the Cathedral right beside the main entrance.

Swift and Stella's Stories
photo by
B. Wilson

Jonathan Swift sculpture on wall of St.Patrick's Cathedral

It was satisfying to savour the atmosphere of the cathedral in which that famed writer served for so much of his adult life.

St. Patrick's Sunday Service
photo by
B Wilson

At eleven o'clock, the counters were covered and all sales stopped. Many of those present assembled along with the parishioners for the Sunday service. It was greatly enhanced by the marvelous choir of about fifty women and men, whose beautiful, powerful voices thrilled, no, chilled, as their sainted singing resounded from the rafters of the great cathedral. It was a memorable moment.

Next stop, Liverpool, the town made famous by The Fabulous Four - the Beatles. This port of call was famous for someone else too, for the Duchess of Cornwall came aboard the ship to celebrate its inaugual stop at Liverpool.

Duchess of Cornwall .

Life in Liverpool
photo be
G.Wilson .

Liverpool's lovely buildings
photo be
G.Wilson

Rather than take tours in this fine city, we decided to visit Wales, since this was the only opportunity to see the land of Lloyd George. Our drive through its beautiful countryside was most enjoyable, the hills and green pastures dotted with grazing sheep.

Wales
photo by
G. Wilson

A Welsh Hamlet
photo by
G. Wilson

See approach proud Edward's power
Chains and slaverie.

Of elegant and lofty stature, Edward I exceeded the height of most men of the time. He was endowed with an abundant head of hair, which marked the passing of his years. changing from yellow to black to snowy white with age. His proud brow and fine features were marred by one drooping eyelid, a characteristic of the clan of his father. He had the sinewy, muscular arms of a swordsman and long, lean legs that made him an excellent horseman. Known by the nickname Longshanks, Edward delighted in war and tournaments that mirrored its madness. A fierce hawker and hunter, he rode down any stag at breakneck speed, unmindful of the many obstacles in his path.

Edward conquered Wales in several years of constant warfare, which he coldly and carefully crafted using land and sea forces. By the Statute of Wales he transferred Llewellyn's land to his Majesty's dominions, proudly proclaiming his first born, Prince of Wales.

A focus for many tourists visiting this part of northern Wales is Conwy castle, constructed on the orders of Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots and king who prevailed over the Welsh. Considered a masterpiece of medieval architecture, the castle's eight great towers and connecting walls are still intact. The circuit of walls, over three-quarters of a mile long, is guarded by 21 towers and three gateways and forms one of the most complete ancient wall circuits in Europe.

Built to bring the wayword Welsh to their knees, the mighty fortress must have been an intimidating structure. The still menacing monster was made moreso on the dark, dismal, rainy day we took the tour. Constructed at astonishing speed, it is hard to believe that 1500 craftsmen, from almost every part of England, could erect it and the wall around the town in 4 years. Begun in 1283, it was substantially completed in 1287 at a cost of 15,000 pounds.

Fitted atop a rocky ridge, the castle seems to grow out of the stone site on which it sits.

Fortress rising from the rock.

After warfare with the Welsh had waned, the castle fell into disrepair. Welsh nationalists demanded this reminder of their repression be demolished. Nothing so drastic was done. Time and wearing-weather took its toll on the great structure, but still it stands.

Residents rejoice at the monster in their midst, for this castle, built to control a contrary people, attracts tourists to their town. Local coffers overflow with pounds, shillings and pence, left by lots of visitors eager to see this magnificent monument made by medieval men.

Once-Walled Conwy Town
photo by
G. Wilson

As the castle might have looked early in the 14th century.

Lookiing down the chapel and the great hall
Left: Stockhouse Tower; Chapel Tower, King's Tower and Bakehouse Tower.Each tower contains its own turret.
photo by
G. Wilson

The castle is rectangular in shape, divided into what are called 'wards', which are the same size. Both have four massive towers and four of the eight have turrets that overlook the inner ward, the area containing the royal appartments. The largest room was the king's great chamber, where he received visitors and on occasion dined alone.

Fortress's four turrets
photo by
G. Wilson

Prison Tower
photo by
G. Wilson

One remaining arch dividing the Chapel and Great Hall with broken Bakehouse Tower
photo by
G. Wilson

King's Tower
photo by
G. Wilson

From this path, a gap led down to the Water Gate - for the king's use only.
photo by
G. Wilson

New Bridge 1958- Inigo Bridge 1926 - Rail Bridge 1848 - View from East Barbican
photo by
G. Wilson

Built by Edward to cow and conquer, Welshmen, who see it as a shameful sign of their subjugation, can also take pride in its testament to their tenacity.

We spent some time in the small town of Betws-y-Coed, which is only 50 feet above sea level, but is entirely surrounded by hill country with an average height of 1000 feet.

Betws-y-Coed's Claim to fame: Its Village Clock
photo by
G. Wilson

Glasgow

Belfast beckoned with a rousing welcome.
photo by
G. Wilson

Northern Ireland's capital had much to see. I was anxious to follow the

Titanic Trail
and learn more about the making of this ship that continues to fascinate, even after sitting at the bottom of the sea for nearly a century.

White Star United publicly announced their intention to build Titanic in 1907. They turned the task over to Thomas Andrews.

Thomas Andrews
[7 February 1873 - 15 April 1912]

Here in these Drawing Offices, famed designer, Thomas Andrews and two others, dared to think big and create a fantistic first.

Toiling over Titanic

This empty place fascinated, its walls echoing the words of the wizards who created the ship that shaped those to come. The biggest the world had ever seen, its name after a hundred years still inspires awe and anguish, transfixing even as it disintegrates in the salty sea two miles down.

Where talented visionaries talked Titanic.
photo by
B. Wilson

Well-trod Tiles
photo by
B. Wilson

On these original tiles trod men whose magic made Titanic. How many miles did they walk, milling over the multitude of problems their challenging charge presented? One lively topic for Lord Pirie, chairman of the company and the shipís designer, was the number of lifeboats to load. The latter allowed 64 for safety. Pirie protested, pointing out TitanicĎs beautiful contours could be cluttered with all those bothersome boats. Besides, Pirie said, "They wonít be needed anyway." So they settled on sixteen plus four collapsibles. When the icy crisis occurred, tragically even these few failed to serve and save. [**]

One wonders what these men would think, if someone mentioned the word, 'sink'.

The Titanic Trail Started Here.
photo by
B. Wilson

Through this gate 4000 tradesmen passed each day for three years. Their task: the Titanic.

Flat-capped Tradesmen

Titanic was built in Belfast by tradesmen, who took pride in their work and vaunted the vision of its owners. Men worked from 6 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. They were docked if late for any reason or if they broke or lost equipment. If they went to watch the launch of a ship on which they had worked, they lost a dayís pay. They brought their own lunch and ate in the shadow of the ships, not in the dining room with the homburg-hatted shipyard management, known to the boys as the "Hats". Workers had a week's vacation, two days each at Christmas and Easter and were paid 2 pounds a week

Work on the ship was dangerous and eight men died before it was completed. Two of these were riveters, a trade well respected by other tradesmen, for their work required skill and courage. A treacherous trade in itself, it required riveters to work in risky parts of the great vessel: the darkest, the highest, the windiest, for the steel shell of the ship was held together by simple rivets.

Taking 2 years to design and 37 months to construct, her keel was laid in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast in March 1909, the hull was launched in May 1811 and she was completed in February 1912.

Sister ships side by side. Titanic (left) and Olympic

When in mid-April 1910, this photograph was taken of the massive steel latticework of the gantry, Titanic (left) was fully framed. The hull shell plating of Olympic had been completed.

As Olympic was the first of the sisterships, she was the chief focus of publicity and media attention at the time. Her hull was painted light grey to aid photography of the launch. Titanic was not specially painted for her launch in 1911. Since Titanic was not the lead ship, it was not as extensively photographed by Harland & Wolff. Lots came later.

Titanic's turn came.

Gigantic Titanic

Shipyard workers fitting the Titanic's starboard tail shaft, May 1911

Titanic's Main Staircase

First Class Suite aboard Titanic

Third Class Stateroom aboard Titanic

The second of three Olympic-sized liners, at her launch she was the largest moving object of her time, weighing 46,328 tonnes with capacity to carry 3,547 passengers and crew. Fifteen tonnes of tallow and five toones of soft soap were needed to guide the enormous vessel down the slipway at Harland and Wolff's Queen's Yard, where she floated in the waters of Victoria Channel in Belfast Lough for the first time. (To get some idea of its size, note the man in the lower right.)

LAUNCH
White Star Royal Mail Triple-Screw Steamer

"TITANIC"

At Belfast

Wednesday, 31st May, 1911 at 2:25 p.m.

Employee Ticket to See the Launch of Ship they built.

Although there was no ceremonial breaking of a bottle of champagne on Titanic's bow to start the launch - it was thought to be 'bad luck' - 100,000 thousand spectators .turned out to witness the launch. Instead a signal was given by Lord Pirrie for the firing of rockets. It took 62 seconds for Titanicís hull over 882 feet long to slide from her building berth into the waters of Belfast harbour. As the cheers subsided, a lavish lunch was served for Lord Pirie and distinguished guests in Harland and Wolff boardroom at Queen's Island.

RMS (Royal Mail Ship)Titanic

After the launch, Titanic left Belfast for Liverpool, where once again it played host to an inquisitive public before leaving for Southampton. From there Titanic took a trial run to Cherbourg, then home for one last lookaround, before setting sail on her first and final voyage.

One wonders what Andrews thought as the vessel, shaped in his head and then in the hands of talented tradesmen, became the "towering hulk of an ocean liner." being launched before him.

The remotest thing from his mind was any possible likelihood he'd lose his life by drowning along with most of those wildly cheering folk on board, when a few days after this legendary launch, his treasured triumph, Titanic, ship that would not sink, sank in the dark, cold depths of the North Atlantic Ocean

Perhaps it did not need to end this way. The granddaughter of the most senior surviving officer revealled some interesting news about those last few hours. The ship was steared towards the iceberg because of a simple mistake, then the Titanic kept sailing for all the wrong reasons. The ship was turned the wrong way by the man at the wheel because there were two different stearing mechanisms and he chose the wrong one. Then instead of stopping the ship, the captain ordered full steam ahead. This increased the pressure in the hull, forcing water over the bulkheads and sinking the ship hours earlier than it would otherwise have sunk. Perhaps a stop order could have kept the ship afloat until help arrived. These claims are just that - more theories added to the mountain that exist.

Titanic Down

The boast of the Belfast boys still rings out loud and clear.

"She was all right when she left here."

[*]
CBC 5 December 2010

The bow of Titanic rests on the bottom of the North Atlantic about 650 km southeast of Newfoundland.

'Eventually there will be nothing left but a rust stain'

The Titanic is disintegrating faster than previously thought, says a Dalhousie University engineer, who predicts researchers have about 15 years before natural bacteria dissolves most of the shipwreck. "In 1995, I was predicting that Titanic had another 30 years," adjunct civil engineering professor Henrietta Mann said in a release. "But I think itís deteriorating much faster than that now. Perhaps if we get another 15 to 20 years out of it, weíre doing good. Eventually there will be nothing left but a rust stain." Mann's prediction comes as she and her team, including researchers from University of Sevilla in Spain, announced on Monday that they have identified a new bacterial species collected from rusticles from the Titanic wreck. The team has named the iron-oxide munching bacteria Halomonas titanicae.

Rusticles are shown on the wreck of Titanic. An engineer at Dalhousie University predicts that in 15 yeas, the entire wreck will be dissolved by natural bacteria. [*]

Titanic Rusticle beneath the microscope.

A rusticle is a rust formation that looks much like an icicle or stalactite and the wreck is covered with them. Mann says they formed as a group of at least 27 different strains of bacteria, including Halomonas titanicae and ate their way through Titanic. It is a new bacteria feeding on the great ship's hulk. The scientists believe that the new micro-organism may work with a complex variety of bacteria, which inhabit a microscopic world inside porous mounds of rusty stalactites called rusticles, to break down metal into a fine powder. Rusticles are porous and water can pass through them. (Dalhousie University) But unlike icicles which are solid and hard, rusticles are delicate, porous structures that will eventually distintegrate into a fine powder. "Itís a natural process, recycling the iron and returning it to nature," said Mann, who studies extreme environments.

The teamís research will be published on Wednesday in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. We donít know yet whether this species arrived aboard the RMS Titanic before or after it sank. We also donít know if these bacteria cause similar damage to offshore oil and gas pipelines,Ē said Mann.Finding answers to these questions will not only better our understanding of our oceans, but may also equip us to devise coatings that can prevent similar deterioration to other metal structures.Ē

The Titanic, once known as the unsinkable ship, struck an iceberg in 1912 and sank about 590 kilometres south of Newfoundland, killing 1,522 passengers and crew.The wreckís final resting spot remained a mystery until 1985 when a joint American-French expedition found it 3.8 kilometres below the ocean surface. Divers confirmed that the ship had split apart; the stern and the bow were located 600 metres apart from each other and are facing in opposite directions. While Dan Conlin, curator of maritime history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, is sorry to see the wreck distintigrating, he points out that scientists know much more about the Titanic than most shipwrecks, "down to the very minute it sunk." "What is fascinating to me is that we tend to have this idea that these wrecks are time capsules frozen in time, when in fact there all kinds of complex ecosystems feeding off them, even at the bottom of that great dark ocean."

[**] Commodore Edward J Smith

The Titanic's Captain

The popular press expected men to die like heroes in 1912. After all Captain Smith had done just that, or had he? In a strange quirk of history the man directly responsible for the loss of Titanic is remembered as a hero, whilst the man who tried to save lives is labelled a coward.

Smith failed the passengers and crew of Titanic. He failed to heed ice warnings, did not slow his ship when ice was reported directly in his path and allowed lifeboats to leave the sinking ship partially filled, unnecessarily adding at least 500 names to the list of the dead.

But what organisation or individual was ultimately to blame? The British government's Board of Trade allowed Titanic to sail with insufficient lifeboat accommodation. The government simply had not kept abreast of advances in marine engineering and based all life-saving regulations on ships up to 10,000 grt (gross registered tons) which were required to carry 16 lifeboats. Titanic was 46,329 grt. A ship designed to accommodate 3,511 passengers and crew was only required to provide lifeboat accommodation for 962. In fact, White Star provided her with four extra collapsible boats, increasing capacity to 1,178.

Smith failed the passengers and crew of Titanic. If Smith had not failed in his duty, all these lifeboats could have been loaded to their stated capacity in time, or even with many more, for the numbers reflected shipyard workers, not women and children. In the flat calm conditions that night, the first boat to leave Titanic's side, with a capacity of 40, contained just 12 people.

Titanic, famous for that terrible disaster, today stands as a memorial to mankind's over-confidence in technology and a reminder of how weak we are compared with the forces of nature. But Titanic should also stand as a reminder of an era when millions of emigrants made the voyage across the Atlantic seeking a new life, in a new world - a memorial to a unique event in history.

Captain's Cigar Box

A cigar box once owned by the captain of the Titanic has been sold for £25,000 at an auction in Liverpool. The walnut humidor was discovered gathering dust on a bedroom cabinet in the Merseyside home of Hilary Mee.It was spotted by auctioneer John Crane when he was invited to value a number of antiques.Ms Mee said she had no idea the item was connected to the ill-fated vessel, even though it had been lying around her home for 20 years.Finest smokes The box carries the distinctive emblem of the White Star Line shipping company and bears the initials of the master of the passenger liner, Edward John Smith, who was from Stoke-on-Trent.At first Mr Crane could not work out what the initials stood for but he said a tingle went down his spine when he realised it belonged to the ship's captain.Ms Mee said the box had been in her family for several generations. It is thought to have been given to her father by relatives of Edward John Smith's widow, Sarah.The box is lined with camphor wood and was designed to hold 40 of the finest Havana cigars.The RMS Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912.

Rare Titanic Plan

A hand-drawn plan of the Titanic, unseen since 1912, will go on display at Belfast City Hall on Easter weekend.The plan, measuring 33ft by 5ft, was drawn by White Star Line architects to assist an inquiry into the causes of the ship's sinking in 1912.Valued at about £250,000, the plan is part of Belfast City Council's Titanic 100 exhibition, marking the centenary of the ship's launch.The plan will be on show from Good Friday until Easter Tuesday.The plan was commissioned to assist the British inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic, headed by Lord Mersey in May 1912. It takes the form of a detailed cross-section, and is heavily annotated, partly to assist the commission in understanding the complexities of Titanic's construction.Still highly visible on the plan are the marks where inquiry officials believed the iceberg made contact with the hull of the ship.

Criticized

The 1912 British inquiry into the sinking of Titanic lasted 36 days. It heard the testimony of nearly 100 witnesses, including surviving crew members, White Star Line officials, and maritime experts. The only surviving passengers interviewed were Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon, and White Star Line President J Bruce Ismay: all first-class passengers.The inquiry was heavily criticised for not speaking to a single passenger from the lower decks of the ship.After asking more than 25,000 questions of witnesses, the inquiry eventually concluded that: "The loss of the said ship was due to collision with an iceberg, brought about by the excessive speed at which the vessel was being navigated."The plan will be the centrepiece of an exhibition by specialist White Star Line auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son at Belfast City Hall from Saturday 23 - Tuesday 26 April.Part of Belfast City Council's Titanic 100 festival, it will feature over 250 items of Titanic and White Star Line memorabilia.

Southampton commemorates Titanic 99th anniversary

The Titanic set sail from Southampton on 10 April 1912. The 99th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic with the loss of 1,517 lives is being marked in Southampton. More than 500 people from the city died when the liner sank after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic on 15 April 1912. Special events include a convention and walks around Titanic-related sites. The Most Revd Alan Harper, Primate of All Ireland, will attend the annual commemorative service at St Mary's church on Sunday. The White Star Line ship was built in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. It was hailed as "unsinkable" when it left Southampton on its ill-fated Atlantic crossing. Next year, the centenary of the disaster is due to be marked with the opening of the new Sea City Titanic sinking 99th anniversary remembered in Belfast

The Titanic, her crew, and passengers will be remembered in Belfast later as a ceremony takes place on the 99th anniversary of the ship's sinking. The RMS Titanic sank on 15 April 1912 after striking an iceberg. The disaster claimed the lives of 1,517 people. Lord Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery and John Andrews, president of the Belfast Titanic Society, will lay wreaths at the Titanic Memorial in the City Hall grounds at 1200 BST. Following the wreath-laying, a minute's silence will be observed and prayers will be said. When the ship left Belfast, nine men from Harland and Wolff, including the ship's designer, Thomas Andrews, were on board. The men were accompanying the ship on her maiden voyage to address any problems which may have arisen on the journey to New York. Nineteen other Belfast men, most of whom were part of the crew, will also on board.

Titanic centenary launched with R J Welch exhibition

The Titanic exhibition will begin two months of celebrations Celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the launch of RMS Titanic will begin on Thursday with the opening of a major photographic exhibition. The 'Titanic 100' exhibition will be held at Belfast City Hall until May.It will focus on the construction of the ship through the lens of R J Welch, the official photographer for Harland and Wolff. Belfast City Council will hold two months of events, ending on 31 May, the centenary of the ship's launch. The date of the opening is also significant, as it coincides with the anniversary of the laying of Titanic's keel, on 31 March 1909. It is also the centenary of the opening of the Thompson Graving Dock, where the ship was built, on 1 April 1911. As well as displaying photographs of the ship itself, the exhibition will attempt to give an insight into life at the Harland and Wolff shipyard and in Belfast more generally in 1911. The exhibition will be opened officially at 1030 BST on Thursday by the Lord Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery and John Andrews, president of the Belfast Titanic Society and great-grandson of the Titanic's designer, Thomas Andrew.

James Cameronís 1997 Titanicí

'Polite' Britons died on Titanic

The Titanic took three years to build before sailing from Southampton More British passengers died on the Titanic because they queued politely for lifeboats, researchers believe. A behavioural economist says data suggests Britons in that era were more inclined to be "gentlemanly" while Americans were more "individualist". Women with children had a 70% better chance of survival than men in such an environment, he told the BBC. The Titanic sank during its maiden voyage in 1912 after hitting an iceberg, with the loss of 1,500 lives. David Savage, from Queensland University of Technology, studied the disaster to look at how people react in life and death situations. He said that in testimonies from inquiries in America and Britain just after the event, there were a lot of statements from women saying their husbands put them on lifeboats. The American culture was.a more individualist culture and the British culture was more about the gentlemanly behaviour David Savage, Queensland University of Technology They then "went to the back of the boat to have a cigar, to stand around and be chummy, while basically the boat went down". Mr Savage said: "There was one gentleman who was rather wealthy... who went back downstairs after he put his wife on the [life] boat... put on his tuxedo...went back upstairs and smoked... with the idea that if I am going die, I may as well die as a gentleman and well-dressed." 'Peak of society' The "unsinkable" ocean liner went down in freezing Atlantic waters during its voyage from Southampton to New York. As it sank, the captain, Edward John Smith, shouted: "Be British, boys, be British," according to witnesses. Mr Savage says. "You've got to remember that this is the Edwardian period when to be a gentleman was the peak of society." Mr Savage also concludes that social norms such as"women and children first" were very strong in British culture and survived in such an environment.

Titanic Capt. Smith highest paid captain in the world. He was responsible for the sinking of the ship and his incompetence attributed to a mental collapse. Ship warned icebergs were about. Instead of slowing to 10 knots, he continued at 20 knots. He did not want to be late getting to NY where hotel reservations were being kept and friends and families awaiting arrival. 10knots would have held them up two days, so he maintained 20 knot speed (40 mph) and 1500 people died. When the officer saw the iceberg it was 60 metres from the shp. When they turned to port, the gash in the side of the ship became a long jagged scar that allowed water into the compartments. If Smith had slowed to 10 knots, they would have been able by turning to miss the iceberg. It is suggested that rather than turn, perhaps they should have hit it head on, for ships have survived hitting icebergs head on. Entering the ice cold water quickly caused people to drown immediately because the sudden shock of the ice cold water causes one to take a breath under water. Swimming about was worse than simply floating, for by exercising, blood flows faster and thus increases the loss of heat. Boat people avoided those swimming around them fearing they would upset the boat by clambering aboard. In fact because of the weakening effect of the cold water, those in it would have had to have help to board so swimmers were not a threat to upset the boats. Women survived the water better than men; more fat. The ship took two hours to sink. Ships that saw the Titanicís flares would not have known they meant HELP because they were fired randomly. Flares signaling HELP are supposed to be fired at one minute intervals. Greatest loss of life was among the men in 2nd class - only 8 percent of them survived. Likely less strong than men in 3rd class.

A new book SURVIVING THE TITANIC is timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary next year of the sinking of that vanquished vessel.It will shed new light on that lasting legend of terror on the high seas and how the disaster continues to shape the lives of a cross-section of passengers who escaped the cold depths. In the early hours of 15 April 1912, after the majestic liner Titanic had split apart, the silence of the mighty ocean was shattered by the screams of 1,500 men, women and children frantically flailing to stay alive in the frigid Atlantic. As the great vessel disappeared into the depths, a deathly silence settled over the sea as passengers slowly died from hypothermia.
The echoes of that night reverberate through the extraordinary stories of the lives of 750 survivors.
The Titanic tale is well known of that celebrated unsinkable ship, which hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Britain to America on 15 April 1912. Little has been written, however, about what happened to the survivors after the tragedy. How did the tragic ship shape the lives of the people who survived? What memories do they have of that harrowing night? How did those who were saved feel about those who perished? The loss of life that night has been likened to the destruction of a small town, whose survivors share their stories.

Geri went to see the spectacular coast and the Giant's Causeway along the coastline. This rock ridge is the result of ancient volcano activity that occurred 60 million years ago. Battered over the millenia by the rampaging waves of Atlantic storms, the rugged symmetry of the columns attracts thousands to marvel at what nature made so long ago.

Giant's Causeway
photo by
G. Wilson

The Organ & path from port Hoffer
photo by
G.Wilson

The Organ Up Close
photo by
G.Wilson

Irish Giant Finn MacCool's Boots.
photo by
G.Wilson

The Spanish Armada galleon La Girona was shipwrecked along this coast in 1588, Of the 1300 sailors & noblemen on board, only 5 survived. The wreck was discovered in 1968/9.
photo by
G.Wilson

"Tourists climbing on rocks at the back of the columns.
photo by
G.Wilson

Glasgow

Clydebank, a small town adjacent to Glasgow, Scotland, was my next port of call. It was once famous for its massive John Brown Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd.and the Singer Sewing Machine Company. To be Clyde-built was synonymous with quality and the shipyard dominated construction of steamship building world-wide. When ship-building shifted to foreign sites, Clydesbank closed for want of orders and advanced technology silenced the sewing machine industry. Having lost both companies to competition, the town now depends on tourists.

The massive cantilever crane, called Titan, that once hoisted 150-ton objects like boilers and gun mountings into ships, has become a toy for tourists. From atop the crane's wheel-house, we had a bird's eye view of Clydebank and the great River Clyde on which were launched the likes of Lusitania, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth.

Titan

Great ships once rose like towering skyscrapers above a bustling, busy place. Few Clydesbank families did not have a father, son, brother or uncle employed by John Brown and Company. The flat-capped working men and the Hats, homburg-hatted managers, were proud with good reason of their plant's prodigious production. Today its vacant fields manufacture only memories of mighty ships like HMS Hood and HMS Repulse. In 1939 the shipyard went to war with the rest of the country and buzzed with the business of repairing and building battleships, cruisers and destroyers. One of these latter was HMCS Crusader. It was laid down on 15 November 1943 and launched 5 October 1944. Commissioned 15 Nowember 1945, its commander was A/Lt.Cdr. Michael Grote Stirling, RCN. HMCS Crusader was sold and broken up for scrap in 1963.

Because of its fame for fledging fighting ships, Clydebanj was heavily bombed. Fortunately, the shipbuilding works were none the worse for war, but the town took a beating with hundreds killed and thousands injured.

The Hats

River Clyde
photo by
B.Wilson

Even the Queen's former famous yacht, HMS Britannia first felt the surge of waves against its bow as it floated down the Clyde.

Queen Elizabeth II's Yacht HMS Britannia
photo by
G. Wilson

Royal Drawing Room on HMS Britannia
photo by
G. Wilson

River Clyde
photo by
B Wilson

The River Clyde (Scottish Gaelic: Abhainn Chluaidh) is a major river in Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom and the third longest in Scotland. Flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire. The River Clyde flows from its source in the "Lead Hills" area of lowland Scotland to its mouth near Glasgow at the Firth of Clyde, where it flows into the North channel of the Irish Sea.

Edinburgh

An importance historical residence in Edinburgh is Holyrood Palace. It is commonly described as the "bed and breakfast" for the Queen and other royals when they roll into town. It is located at the eastern end of what is known as Edinburgh's Royal Mile, which actually exceeds a mile by 107 yards. Probably Edinburgh's oldest street, the Royal Mile connects Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyrood House.

According to Daniel Defoe, it was in 1723, "The largest, longest and finest street for Buildings and Number of Inhabitants, not only in Britain, but in the World..."

These historic places were in the news recently, for it was at Holyrood House that Queen Elizabeth II welcomed Pope Benedict XVI, the only pontiff ever to receive an official invitation to Britain. He landed at Edinburgh and his time there included a drive in the popemobile down the Royal Mile lined with thousands of greeters.

A View of Edinburgh from the Castle
photo by
B.Wilson

Entrance Gate to Holyrood House (Holyrood Palace)
photo by
G.Wilson

(left) Queen Mary's Tower & Charles II Tower
photo by
G.Wilson

Abbey with volcanic hill in background.
photo by
G.Wilson

It's hard to miss the city's centrepiece, Edinburgh Castle, for it dominates the city. Over one thousand years of history sit atop this solid site, the remnant of an extinct volcano. The site's first settlement was a Briton-built fort long before there was a Roman Empire. Their tongue was Celtic and they called their city Dineidin ("hilltop castle").

Edinburgh Castle

The Castle sits atop a rocky crag and has done so for a millenium, outliving the city itself. People have been on Castlehill for the last 7000 years.The name Edinburgh comes from the ancient Gaelic Dun Eidyn which means "hill fort on the sloping ridge".

Gatehouse of Edinburgh Castle
photo by
B. Wilson

The Gatehouse was built in 1888 to make the castle look more imposing. Outside in the facade are bronze statues of King Robert the Bruce on the left and Sir William Wallace onthe right. They were added in 1929 to mark the 600th anniversary of Bruce's death. No record exists of either of the two men ever visiting the castle.

Robert the Bruce
King of Scotland
Left Side
photo by
B. Wilson

Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) ruled Scotland as Robert I from 1306-1329. Defeated repeatedly by Edward I, Robert the Bruce finally prevailed against his son, Edward II, whom he defeated at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

William Wallace
Right Side
photo by
B. Wilson

Scots, wha hae
by
Robbie Burns

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to Victorie!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power-
Chains and Slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a Slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha, for Scotland's King and Law,
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Free-man stand, or Free-man fa',
Let him on wi' me!

By Oppression's woes and pains!
By your Sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!-
Let us Do or Die!

The esplanade, which was formed in 1753 as a parade ground for the castle garrison, has been used for miltiary spectacles ever since. In August, its walls resound with the nightly Tattoo ceremony, an event that features bagpipes, drums and colourful regalia, that simply must be seen and heard to be believed. Talk about a spectacular show; not a seat to be seen in the place as thousands pack the grandstand to be awed by its wonderful sounds and colourful sights.

Pipes, Drums & Kilt Regalia Regale the crowds

Earlier times on the esplanade saw some far more serious sessions involving of all things - witches. Edinburgh Castle played a key role in the trial and execution of condemned witches. An estimated 300 were put to death on the castle's esplanade. One such figure was Agnes Finnie, an Edinburgh shopkeeper, who was charged with 20 counts of witchcraft and sorcery, including placing "so frightful a disease on Beatrice Nesbit for some trifling offence that she lost the use of her tongue." Arrested in 1644, Agnes was found guilty of witchcraft and held in the castle's dungeons. After strangulation, her body was burned on the esplanade. Today a small well on the esplanade marks the spot where Agnes Finnie and others were executed for the crime of witchcraft.

Witch One

Witches Well
Situated at the entrance to the Esplanade, this cast iron wall fountain commemorates the place where over three hundred women were burned at the stake accused of being witches.

The Plaque Reads.

"This Fountain, designed by John Duncan, R.S.A.
Is near the site on which many witches were burned at the stake. The wicked head and serene head signify that some used their exceptional knowledge for evil purposes while others were misunderstood and wished their kind nothing but good. The serpent has the dual significance of evil and wisdom. The Foxglove spray further emphasises the dual purpose of many common objects.

The use of torture to extract a confession from would-be witches was illegal in England, Ireland and Wales, but not so Scotland. In the 16th Century more witch burnings were carried out at Castlehill than anywhere else in the country. The victims often suffrered brutal torture before being put to death at the stake. They were often nearly drowned by being 'douked' in the Nor' Loch. Sleep deprivation was a common custom, with the accused forced to walk back and forth until exhausted and denied any rest. In the event the victim still refused to admit to her crimes, the Scots supplemented this with thumb screws and leg crushers. Another way of dealing with suspected witches was with water: the accused's right thumb was fastened to her left big toe and she was tossed into a pond or river. If she sank, she was innocent; if she floated and hence rejected by the water as a servant of the devil, she was strangled and torched. Another torture was 'pricking', piercing the skin to find areas of the flesh that would not bleed. The female of the species was far more likely to be suspected of witchcraft, particularly female beggers, who were denied a handout. Should anything untoward happen to the individual who did not drop a penny in the cup, the cupholder was seized, charged and chastened accordingly.

Witches

Symbol of Holyrood House a stag's head with a cross between its antlers as seen by King David I (1124-53)
photo by
G.Wilson

From the largest, longest and finest to the oldest - St. Margaret's Chapel, for this tiny structure is the most ancient in the castle, indeed in Edinburgh. Built in 1130 by David I as a private chapel for the royal family, he dedicated it to his mother, Margaret. She died in the castle in 1093, devastated by the death of her husband, Malcolm III, whose violent demise occurred as a result of an ambush. The building's use converted from gospel to gunpowder storage in the 16th century, when its stone-vaulted "bomb-proof" ceiling was constructed.

St. Margaret's Chapel
photo by
B.Wilson

This medieval monster, a siege gun, was presented as a gift to James II of Scotland in 1457 from his neice's husband, Duke Philip of Burgundy. Weighing six tons and known simply as "Mons" after the Belgian town where it was made, it fired gunstones weighing 150 k (330 pounds) and had a range of almost 3.2 km (2 miles). Because of its massive weight, it was a bit unwieldy in wartime, its maximum speed drawn by a team of 100 men being 5 km (3 miles) a day. Fired first against the English, James II lost his life in that battle.

After pounding many places to pieces, the cannon retired from fatal firing and was used only on ceremonial, saluting occasions. It was famously fired to celebrate the wedding of Mary Queen of Scots to the French dauphin. Its last gasp blast was in 1681 to celebrate the birthday of the Duke of Albany, who later became James VII. On that occasion the barrel burst and the bold, old boomer was unceremoniously dumped. Some seventy years later, it was rescued, restored and re-located. Mons Meg, accompanied by a military escort, was taken to its present position on the battlement of Edinburgh Castle in 1829.

Mons Meg
photo by
B.Wilson

Mons Meg,
symbol of
"Scotland's proud military past had come home at last".

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