place/event – the Titanic (or not)

Places are always associated with happenings – actualities, potentialities, imaginings, documented or not.


Here’s a variation.

In 1935-6 the liner RMS Olympic was broken up at Jarrow on the River Tyne, and hotelier Algenon Smart bought the fittings from the First Class dining room for his hotel, the White Swan in Alnwick, Northumberland. The dining room was identical to that on the Olympic’s sister ship, the Titanic.

Titanic was launched on the day of the Olympic’s sailing from the shipyard. The two ships remained closely connected. Repairs to the Olympic after a collision delayed the launching of the Titanic, and so its maiden voyage – it might never have encountered the iceberg. Olympic was at sea on April 14 1912 when the Titanic hit the iceberg, 500 miles away, received the distress call and changed course to help, but turned back when news came from the Carpathia that they had picked up survivors. In the 1920s, after serving as a transport ship for over 200,000 troops in the First World War, Olympic was a most fashionable means to travel the Atlantic, not least because of its associations with the Titanic as the most luxurious means to travel. Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford all ate in the First Class Dining Room, and it was reputed to be Charlie Chaplin’s favorite restaurant, on land or sea.

The Olympic Suite is still there in Alnwick and we visited today. Not the Titanic, not the ship, but designed and made by the same team of craftsmen (including 186 woodcarvers) at Harland and Wolff shipbuilders in Belfast.


[Link] – to a website that tracks the remains of the Olympic.

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