There’s something rather elegant in the design of the ships from the late Victorian / early Edwardian era. There’s something about the low set superstructures on top of the high hulls that made them look quite racy. This is the RMS Oceanic, the largest ship in the world at the time of it’s launch in 1899, but whose career lasted only until 1914 when she ran aground in the Shetlands and was smashed to pieces by a storm. What was left above the water was cut down to water level in 1924, while in 1973 more of the hull was removed. It wasn’t until 1979 that the last pieces of the hull were removed. The only parts now remaining are one of the ships propellor blades, which now resides in Fife.
Here’s a few 100% views of the ship, in case you were wondering how many buttons are on the coat that bloke on the bow is wearing, or if you were curious to know if the Captain has a beard or not.
Up front, waiting to do that Titanic thing from the film. Not.
Passengers and the Captain (on the flying bridge) observing the docking operations.
Rivet counting anyone? As always, the resolution afforded by the glass plate negative is stunning.
The S.S. Prinzessin Victoria Luise, surely one of the most beautiful ships ever launched, had an even shorter career of only 6 years. She was not a great transatlantic liner like the Oceanic, rather she was the worlds first cruise ship. It was on a West Indian Cruise in 1906, where she ran aground and could not be refloated. A great history and some superb photographs can be found here.
Finally, here is the RMS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic (or if you believe the conspiracy theories, then this is the RMS Titanic). Launched only 12 years after the Oceanic above, she was significantly larger – 46000 tonnes vs 17000 tonnes, 882 ft vs 704 ft length, 92ft vs 68 ft beam, which just goes to show the speed of change in this era. And unlike the Titanic and the other ships in this article, she enjoyed a long career, being withdrawn from service in 1935.