RMS MAJESTIC NOTEBOOK

This page is intended to present a few snippets of information relating to the ‘Magic Stick,’ some of which is little known, and a few images dating from her time in service. Any additional comments or corrections would – as always – be appreciated. Please be patient as these images, in particular, will take a long time to load.

 

Above: Majestic makes an appearance on one of Cadbury’s collectors’ cards. The ship’s size is exaggerated by the tiny tugs, while the curve of the bow and superstructure are more pronounced than they were in reality. (Author’s collection.)

Above: Majestic’s maiden voyage was pleasing, as she covered 3,058 miles in five days fourteen hours and forty-five minutes at an average speed of 22.69 knots. (Courtesy John Creamer.)

Titanic connections, coincidences and comparisons:

  1. Majestic was making her maiden voyage as the largest ship in the world, the White Star Line’s new flagship. Hers was the first peacetime voyage since Olympic’s in June 1911 when such a large liner belonging to the company completed the crossing successfully: Titanic’s maiden voyage ended in disaster when she sank on April 15th 1912, and Britannic’s maiden voyage – though safely completed – took place in wartime as a Hospital Ship.
  2. Majestic arrived in Southampton on April 10th 1922, exactly ten years to the day since Titanic’s departure. Both vessels were the largest in the world, the flagships of the line, larger than the Olympic.
  3. Titanic’s comfortable and pleasing performance won considerable praise prior to the disaster, just as Majestic’s passengers proved enormously impressed with the liner. Both liners performed well from a speed standpoint, and both were comfortable and relatively vibration-free at sea.
  4. Some have questioned whether the westbound passenger list of 655 was influenced by a feeling of déjà vu relating to the Titanic’s debut ten years earlier, yet Majestic’s eastbound passenger list was much higher and more than satisfactory. (The Olympic’s previous westbound passenger list had amounted to 705 passengers, a similar number to Majestic’s maiden voyage.)
  5. Heading the Majestic’s guarantee group from Harland & Wolff for the maiden voyage was Henry Pierson Harland, the husband of Thomas Andrews’ widow, Helen. On arrival, at Ellis Island Henry described himself as a ‘shipbuilder,’ rather than being any more specific.
  6. Among the other Harland & Wolff personnel onboard were Edward Wilding and his wife Marion. Wilding testified at the Mersey investigation into the Titanic’s loss in 1912, providing a robust defence of his company and the lost liner’s construction. The Wildings lived in Winn Road in Southampton , the same road where the Titanic’s Captain Smith had lived prior to his fatal voyage.
  7. More than a dozen crewmembers who survived the Titanic disaster were onboard the Majestic for her May 10th 1922 maiden voyage, including Annie Caton, George Cavell, Alfred Crawford, Frank Port, Harold Prior, Wilfred Seward and Sarah Stap. Perhaps the most prominent of these Titanic survivors was Lookout George Alfred Hogg, but on the Majestic’s maiden voyage he signed-on as a Boson’s Mate. Hogg recalled of the Titanic: ‘I never thought she was going to sink.’ In fact, he had thought ‘she was unsinkable.’
  8. Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon were among the prominent first class passengers on Titanic’s maiden voyage. Majestic’s passengers included its fair share of aristocracy – including Lord Inchcape and his daughter, the Honourable Elsie Mackey. (By coincidence, both Sir Cosmo and Lord Inchcape were born in 1862, and they died at similar ages – 68 and 69 respectively.)
  9. Titanic and Majestic carried millionaire ‘railroad’ owners in first class on their maiden voyages, not to mention Vaudeville actresses too – American Dorothy Gibson on the Titanic and Russian Nina Kousnezoff on Majestic.
  10. ‘In the 1970s TV series Upstairs Downstairs, Lady Marjorie Bellamy sailed aboard the Titanic never to be seen again. Fact supersedes fiction, as a crewmember coincidentally named after Lady Marjorie’s footman actually sailed on the Majestic. In keeping with his TV namesake, Edward Barnes’ social class was below stairs of course.’
  11. ‘Somewhat tenuous’: Majestic was the first of her three sister ships to be sold for scrap (although she subsequently gained a reprieve as a training ship); as with Titanic (less than a week’s service) the Majestic saw the shortest time in service (fourteen years) compared to her sisters.
  12. Titanic was completed as a younger and improved running mate to the Olympic on the express service to New York ; while Majestic was completed as a younger and improved running mate to the Olympic on the same route.
  13. Olympic spent more time in service than Titanic and Majestic; and by 1926 she had been in service for fifteen years – more than the Titanic and Majestic put together.
  14. Since she spent more time in service, Olympic carried more passengers than the Majestic in total, and more than Titanic and Majestic combined.
  15. While it has been argued that Titanic was trying to beat the Olympic’s maiden voyage crossing time, arriving in New York late on Tuesday evening rather than Wednesday morning, Majestic developed a reputation as a fast ship. In 1923, the Transatlantic Passenger Conference recorded that she bested the Leviathan’s average speed of 23 knots, for Majestic and Mauretania both averaged 23.29 knots that year. On this measure, while she did not hold the Blue Ribband, Majestic could claim to have been the joint fastest liner in the world. (To make matters even better, Majestic was the most popular liner afloat in 1923, carrying around 8,000 more passengers than any other liner.)

Above: The White Star Line was proud of its largest liner and issued many souvenirs during Majestic’s time in service. Earlier company ships had their golden yellow line painted between the black hull and white superstructure, but by the 1920s the line was moved downwards so that there was a gap between it and the superstructure. (Courtesy John Creamer)

Above: On the first day of Majestic’s maiden voyage, passengers were greeted with an extensive lunch menu. (Courtesy John Creamer.)

Above: Majestic in the floating dry dock in this rare semi-colourised photograph. Among other things, the funnels appear far darker than their White Star ‘buff’ colouring, while the red painted portion of the hull below the waterline appears closer to grey. (Author’s collection.)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My thanks to John Creamer for his generosity in sharing his research and material from his own collection, including notes 5 to 10 inclusive. I would also like to offer my thanks to everyone who so kindly helped me when I was researching and writing the Majestic book.

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