The ‘RMS Olympic’ was the first of the White Star Line’s trio of Olympic-class liners and launched in October 1910 followed by the launch of ‘RMS Titanic’ in May 2011 and ‘HMHS Britannic’ in February 2014. William McGeoch & Co supplied many of the stateroom furnishings, locks, lamps and electrical fittings for all three ships which were built in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Harland and Wolff.
Unlike the other ships in the class, ‘Olympic’ had a long career spanning 24 years from 1911 to 1935. This included service as a troopship during the First World War, which gained her the nickname ‘Old Reliable’. She returned to civilian service after the war and served successfully as an ocean liner throughout the 1920s and into the first half of the 1930s, although increased competition and the slump in trade during the Great Depression after 1930 made her operation increasingly unprofitable.
‘Olympic’ was the largest ocean liner in the world for two periods during 1911–13, interrupted only by the brief tenure of the slightly larger ‘Titanic’ (which had the same dimensions but higher gross tonnage owing to revised interior configurations), before she was then surpassed by ‘SS Imperator’. ‘Olympic’ also retained the title of the largest British-built liner until ‘RMS Queen Mary’ was launched in 1934, interrupted only by the short careers of her slightly larger sister ships.
The ‘Olympic’ was withdrawn from service and sold for scrap in 1935; demolition was completed in 1937. Decorative elements of ‘Olympic’ were removed and sold at auction before she was scrapped, and now adorn buildings and a cruise ship. By contrast with ‘Olympic’, the other two ships in the class, ‘Titanic’ and ‘Britannic’, did not have long service lives. ‘Titanic’ collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic on her maiden voyage and sank, while ‘Britannic’ struck a mine and sank in the Kea Channel in Greece in 1916.
‘Britannic’ never served her intended role as a passenger ship. She was launched just before the start of the First World War and designed to be the safest of the three ships with design changes actioned during construction due to lessons learned from the sinking of the ‘Titanic’. She was laid up at her builders, Harland and Wolff, in Belfast for many months before being put to use as a hospital ship from 1915 until she met her untimely end.
The archive poster on the left shows some of the stateroom furnishings, locks, lamps and electrical fittings that were designed, manufactured and supplied by William McGeoch & Co for all three ships. It’s interesting to note the comment at the foot of the poster …
“Shipowners should specify McGeoch’s locks and cabin furnishings and so secure the latest and most improved fastenings for the safety and comfort of passengers.”
The photographs below also clearly demonstrate the wide range and unique style and design of McGeoch light fittings in various areas of the ship including the 1st Class Smoking Room, Kitchens & Pantry, Palm Court, Veranda Café and 2nd Class Library. In particular, the Cherub Lamp on the Grand Staircase is one of several shown in McGeoch’s turn-of-the-century product catalogue.
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