Forging the Anchor

Video highlights from Rebuilding Titanic

How did they construct the Titanic's anchor?

Titanic
•    In 1912, Titanic was the largest, most luxurious ship ever made. She was built from millions of individual metal parts,
•    Titanic had the world's biggest anchor.
•    The anchor survives on Titanic’s deck today.

Netherton, the Anchor
•    In 1912, Netherton, a tiny English town, was the anchor capital of the world.
•    Netherton is in a region known as the Black Country because of a thick smoke that once fumed from its many steel forges.
•    Titanic's anchor was ordered in 1910 from Noah Hingley and Son.
•    The owners of Titanic ordered 603 metres of chain from Hingley's Anchor Works.  
•    Some of Titanic’s chain links were so large that it took two men to drag them from the furnace.
•    In 1912 Hingley's Anchor Works employed over 3000 local men.

Constructing the Anchor
•    A single piece of steel weighing five tonnes is super heated until red hot to form the anchor’s six metre shaft.
•    The ten tonne piece of pointed flukes which dig into the seabed is cast in a giant mould.
•    The entire anchor was sixteen tonnes of high-grade steel.
•    The plans show the anchor shaft as precisely 450 millimetres thick.
•    In 1911, a coal-powered steam hammer and brute force was used to shape red hot steel in a method called forging.
•    The forge itself is two anvils that move up and down, and hasn't changed in 100 years.
•    In casting, molten steel was poured in moulds and left to cool and harden.

Workforce in Netherton
•    Workers toiled day and night to produce over 1000 tonnes of anchors and chains every week.
•    Boys were apprenticed from 14 and worked until the grave, rarely past their forties.
•    A hundred years ago the men had no safety gear aside from aprons and leather gloves.
•    The steel workers risked more than severe burns. The factory floor was thick with hot metallic dust, which the men called metal mites. Lung disorders were commonplace and the workers were were well known for their husky voices and hacking coughs.
•    Women forged smaller chains by hand in a local cottage industry.
•    Women received a fraction of what their male counterparts were paid. Working at the anvil for twelve hours a day, they earned the modern equivalent of just 24 dollars a week.
•    Chain making by hand continued in the Black Country until 1976.

Coal Industry and Titanic’s engines
•    In 1912, Britain had over 3000 collieries or coal mines.
•    Gas explosions and roof falls were commonplace. On average a miner was killed every five hours.
•    Miners were paid by piece rate. The more they dug, the more they earned. To feed his family, a miner had to dig up to a ton of coal every hour.
•    In 1912 the Lewis Merthyr mine in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales supplied steam coal to the White Star Line which owned Titanic.
•    On April 8, 1912, after weeks of a coal miner’s strike, the government caved in to the miners' demands for a minimum wage.
•    The coal strike ended just days before Titanic sailed on April 10, 1912.
•    Titanic's engines devoured 700 tons of coal a day.
•    To propel Titanic to New York, stokers would have needed to shovel 3500 tonnes of coal into her 29 huge boilers.
•    There were 167 stokers on board Titanic, working four hour shifts. Known as the Black Gang, they were deprived of daylight and fresh air for most of the voyage.
•    Two mighty coal-powered steam engines produced 46,000 horsepower at a cruising speed of 21 knots.

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