Oldham, Wilton J.


Liverpool, 1st ed., 1961. Xviii + 283 pp., frontis., 34 other photo-plates + pict. e.p's. D.j., 22 x 14cm. Fore-edge of rear cover damp-stained (not visible as it is beneath dust jacket) ; old tape marks to endpapers, o/w V.G. The founder of one of the most famous shipping lines in the world, Thomas Henry Ismay (1837-1899) came from a seafaring family in Maryport, Cumberland. A successful businessman at the age of thirty, he purchased a bankrupt sailing ship company, the White Star Line, and two years later started a new trans-Atlantic company with revolutionary steamships designed in conjunction with Harland & Wolff at Belfast. These ships made other North Atlantic operators take note, drastically change their own ideas, and follow Ismay's example. T. H. Ismay died in 1899 at the age of 62, a millionaire and the most successful steamship owner in the world. He was buried in the churchyard next to his grand house at Thurstaston on the Wirral peninsular, built in 1884 at a cost of over '53,000. The author describes his life and achievements based on Ismay's own records and on his wife's diaries. Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son, J. Bruce Ismay (d.1927) who was a different character than his father but followed in his footsteps. He was aboard the ill-fated TITANIC when she collided with an iceberg in 1912 on her maiden voyage. He was saved in the last lifeboat to leave the starboard side but henceforth his life was ruined as a witch-hunt followed and the disaster haunted his remaining years. The loss of the TITANIC is seen through his eyes and many of his personal papers are published here for the first time. The final chapter in the book tells of White Star's merger with its great rival, Cunard ' the author being closely involved in this historic event.

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