After her delayed but highly successful sea trials, Titanic immediately made her way to her port of departure, Southampton, arriving just before midnight on the 3rd April. However, there was still much, much work to be done before the ship could depart on April 10th, and the majority of this work involved stocking the vessel with ton after ton of linen, bedding, cutlery, glassware, beer, foodstuffs and tableware.
At the same time, the ship’s general cargo began to arrive, which would require loading into Titanic’s cavernous cargo holds situated fore and aft. In addition to this huge effort to get the ship ready for her maiden voyage, there were still people aboard fitting carpets, hanging curtains, arranging furniture, and painting etc.
A near-constant stream of delivery vehicles brought more and more goods to the quayside, bringing the immense amount of goods you see listed down the right-hand side of this page. Remember, it wasn’t simply a case of feeding the 1,300 or more passengers; there were 900 or so hard-working members of the crew who also needed feeding three times a day!
Another major consumable that was topped-up at Southampton was the coal. Even though the Great Coal Strike was now over, the coal wasn’t managing to get from the pit-heads of Great Britain to the docks yet because of the huge demand there now was for it, so many ships’ voyages had been cancelled. (Cunard sent Lusitania for some maintenance work during the strike) So, White Star Line had to set about removing coal from some of their other laid-up liners, and transferring it to Titanic.
With almost 200,000 individual items of laundry aboard Titanic, there had to be comprehensive facilities on both sides of the Atlantic to clean these items and turn them around in as short a time as possible, ready for the liner’s next departure. To do this, White Star Line built an extensive laundry in Southampton, adjacent to the White Star Dock, and can be seen in the two photographs here on the left.
The laundry wasn’t just there for Titanic’s benefit, though, all of White Star’s vessels putting in a Southampton stop would have put their soiled linen through the facility. It was located on the second floor of Harland and Wolff’s Southampton works, and all of the machinery and equipment was of the latest design. If necessary, the laundry could operate twenty-four hours per day to deal with a large incoming liner such as Olympic.
On Good Friday, 5th April, five days before she was due to depart on her maiden voyage, Titanic was ‘dressed’ in her signal flags as an acknowledgement to the people of Southampton. Under normal circumstances, the general public of the city would have been allowed to tour the ship in the days leading up to her departure, but Titanic’s assorted delays, coupled with the amount of work still outstanding meant that there would be no time for visiting the ship prior to her maiden voyage. So, Titanic was decorated from stem to stern, a special occasion still to be savoured by many of Southampton’s residents, and the only time Titanic was ever decorated in this way.
|Fresh Meat||75,000 lbs|
|Fresh Fish||11,000 lbs|
|Poultry & Game||25,000 lbs|
|Salt & Dried Fish||4,000 lbs|
|Bacon & Ham||7,500 lbs|
|Rice & Dried Beans||10,000 lbs|
|Fresh Green Peas||2,250 lbs|
|Fresh Asparagus||800 Bundles|
|Fresh Cream||1,200 qts|
|Ice Cream||1,750 qts|
|Hothouse Grapes||1,000 lbs|
|Fresh Milk||1,500 gal|
|Condensed Milk||600 gal|
|Fresh Butter||6,000 lbs|
|Jams & Preserves||1,120 lbs|
Beverages & Alchohol
|Mineral Water||15,000 bottles|
Glassware, Cutlery & Tableware
|Beef Tea Cups||3,000|
|Beef Tea Dishes||3,000|
|Ice Cream Plates||5,500|
|Table & Dessert Knives||8,000|
Linen & Bedding