On This Day

20 August


1880 Workman, Clark & Company’s first vessel

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The 265-ton cargo ship Ethel (WC&C Yard No. 1) was launched today from the new shipbuilding yard of Workman, Clark & Co. Ltd. for M’Mullan & Gault, Ballymena.

According to the press there were a large number of ladies present at the launch and among the gentlemen present ‘we noticed inside the building Mr. John Browne, J. P. , Mayor of Belfast, Mr. John Young, J. P., D.L., Galgorm Castle, Ballymena; Mr. E. J. Harland, J. P., chairman, and Mr. Wm. Thompson, secretary, of the Harbour Commissioners.’

A few minutes before 11am the final shores were removed as Ethel began to move she was named by Miss Young of Galgorm Castle, with a bottle of Champagne broken over the bows. ‘Loud cheers were indulged in by both those in the yard and the mass of people which had congregated on the North Twin Island.’ Ethel’s dimensions were: Length, 150 feet; Breadth of beam, 21 feet, 6 inches; Depth in hold, 10 feet, 9 inches. Her machinery, a two cylinder compound engine was designed and built by John Rowan & Sons Ltd., York Street Foundry, Belfast.


1887 Launched without a name

A 887-ton cross-channel ship (Yard No. 203) was launched today for the London & North Western Railway Company.

The vessel, designed and built for the Company’s cattle service between Holyhead and North Wall, Dublin, was launched without any ceremony or name selected. The vessel was a sistership of Irene (Yard No. 181), launched on 10 July 1885. The triple-expansion engined vessel was later given the name Anglesey


1887 Pioneer

Around the same time as the L&NWR cross-channel ship went down the ways, McIllwaine, Lewis & Co. Ltd. launched an iron schooner named Pioneer (ML&C Yard No. 29) from their Abercorn Basin shipyard for James McDonnell, Portaferry.

It was reported that a great number of people witnessed the launch. The vessel’s dimensions were: Length, 73 feet, 4 inches; Breadth of beam, 19 feet; Depth in hold, 10 feet, with a 75 tons net registered tonnage.


1891 Philadelphian

The 5,120-ton cargo ship Philadelphian (Yard No. 244) was launched today at 10am for Frederick Leyland & Co. Ltd., Liverpool.

The vessel was a sistership of Lancastrian (Yard No. 243) launched the previous month on the 24th. Both vessels were intended for the Company’s North Atlantic cargo trade, operating out of Liverpool.


1911 Delay to Titanic

To speed up construction on Titanic (Yard No. 401), following the accident to her sister Olympic which had taken yard workers away from Titanic, Harland & Wolff ordered Sunday working in the yard.

On this day her steel foremast with crow’s nest was stepped into position. Its base diameter of 36 inches and overall height of 161 ft, 6 inches made it one of the tallest ever fitted into a steamship. The top 15 feet was made from spruce in order to reduce the risk from lighting strike.