Titanic Belfast: Titanic in my Blood- Titanic Stories with Susie Millar

Uploaded by titanicstories on 29.03.2011

My name is Susie Millar.
I'm writing a book about my family's Titanic connections.
I have Titanic in my blood.
I have a direct bloodline connection to Titanic.
My great-grandfather, Tommy Millar, was on board on the night she sank.
I'm always looking for new stuff about Tommy to find out what he was up to
and just put a bit more to his story.
This is a document from the Public Records Office
which actually shows his signing-on to Titanic.
It gives a little bit of extra information.
There's his name, T Millar. He was 31 at that time.
Born in Carrickfergus in County Antrim.
It also says that he was a deck engineer.
Tommy left something behind before he sailed on Titanic.
It's become very precious to our family as a memory of him.
Before he boarded the ship,
he gave his two sons two new pennies each, dated 1912.
and said, "Don't spend those until I see you again next."
And off he sailed.
Because he never came back from Titanic, my grandfather remembered those words
and he kept those two pennies all of his life.
My great-grandfather worked here in Harland & Wolff 100 years ago.
It's still very much a working part of the city today.
Harland & Wolff were at their height at that time.
They were building the biggest ships on the seas for clients like White Star
who demanded the best technical innovation around.
This road would have been a hive of activity,
with all these amazing sights of engineering coming towards you.
I've got the keys to the private offices of what used to be Harland and Wolff.
That gives me a bit of a thrill.
What would my great-grandfather have thought of that 100 years on,
his great-granddaughter showing people around in here?
This now-decrepit building is where Thomas Andrews,
the chief naval architect of Titanic,
and Lord Pirrie, the chairman of Harland & Wolff, had their offices.
They both came from very wealthy established families here in Belfast.
It was their vision that gave Titanic to the world.
This is the drawing office where Titanic was designed.
It's here where the draughtsmen sat
and worked very diligently and silently on the plans
that would pull all the elements of Titanic together.
Behind me are the slipways where Olympic and Titanic were built.
It took about a year to fully frame the ship.
That's bringing out the ribs from a central keel.
After that, huge steel plates were riveted to that frame.
It's hard to convey just how big the ship was.
But you could see it taking shape from all over Belfast,
cradled by this massive gantry.
The plates were held or pinned together by thousands of steel rivets.
Though technology had changed with most driven by hydraulic equipment,
dozens of hand-riveting squads were still needed on parts of Titanic's hull.
This is Belfast Lough
and this is the dry dock and pump house,
built in 1904 and in its day, the biggest in the world.
The Olympic-class liners
were brought here to have their propellers put on.
What happens is, 21 million gallons of water from here
is pumped into here and then back out again.
Appearances were important to the world of shipping.
Although four funnels were fitted to Titanic, only three were in operation.
The fourth was simply added to impress.
It's ironic Titanic had an enormous funnel it didn't need
and yet not enough lifeboats.
The sinking of Titanic was a pivotal moment in our family's history.
I often wonder what would have happened if Tommy Millar hadn't got on Titanic
or indeed if he'd made it to the other side.