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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 27 August, 2014

The Titanic: Nine things you may not have known about the legendary liner

The world’s most famous – or infamous – ocean liner was launched in Belfast 100 years ago today. Here we look at some of the facts which don’t always make it into the history books.

Tourists look at an exhibition in Belfast to mark this year's centenary of the Titanic's launch
Tourists look at an exhibition in Belfast to mark this year's centenary of the Titanic's launch
Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THERE WERE CEREMONIES today to mark one hundred years since the Titanic was launched in Belfast. Religious services were held and a flare released at 12.13pm – precisely a century since the vessel first entered the water. Reverend Chris Bennett, chaplain of the city’s new Titanic Quarter development, told the BBC it was an opportunity for the city to “rediscover its pride” in building the huge ship.

The doomed liner was famously the largest and most luxurious ever built. But did you know it carried 2,000 egg spoons across the Atlantic?

Here’s a list of some lesser-known Titanic facts:

  • Before the liner was even completed, eight people had died working on its construction, including a 15-year-old boy. However, ordinary shipyard workers were banned from attending the official launch, which was watched by dignitaries and high society only.
  • To help the vast ship slide easily into the Lagan, the Harland and Wolff slipway was greased with 23 tons of lubricant in the form of soap, oil and tallow (a fat used to make candles).
  • Around three million rivets were used in its construction. Work carried on so late that when passengers boarded, the paint was still wet in some spots.
  • Vast stores of food were needed to keep the 2,228 people aboard fed for the week’s journey to New York. The Titanic set sail from Southampton on April 10 1912 carrying 40,000 fresh eggs, 75,000 pounds of meat, 40 tons of potatoes, and 15,000 bottles of beer – as well as no fewer than 8,000 complimentary cigars.
  • To serve the passengers and crew every day, the ship was equipped with 57,600 pieces of crockery and 44,000 of cutlery including 2,000 egg spoons.
  • Among its luxurious features was a mock-up Parisian cafe complete with real French waiters. There was also the first ever floating heated swimming pool, a gym with rowing machines, and a 554-seater first class dining room.
  • Each day, the Titanic burned through 825 tons of coal – roughly the weight of 117 double-decker buses stacked together.
  • First class passengers paid up to US$4,350 for a suite. The equivalent cost today would be almost €70,000. Unskilled shipyard workers at the time were paid £1 or less a week (about €100 a week in today’s terms).
  • Even if every lifeboat had been filled when the ship sank after hitting an iceberg on April 15, 1912, only just over half of those aboard could have survived. As it was, almost 70 per cent perished – though the survivors did include two lapdogs, taken on to lifeboats by their owners.

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