On This Day

16 October

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1947 A Princess launches a ship


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The 28,705-ton passenger ship Edinburgh Castle (Yard No. 1333) was launched today for the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company. The christening ceremony was performed by 17-year old Princess Margaret, her first important public engagement on her own and the first by a Scots-born Princess to name and launch a ship.

A bottle of South African wine was used at the ceremony. Afterwards the Princess was presented with a bouquet of pink roses by Tom Smyth, also aged 17, one of the youngest joiner apprentices in the yard.

'She delighted him - and all the crowd who saw it - by giving him one of the roses as a buttonhole,' and said, 'I would like to congratulate those who built her on the latest example of the acknowledged supremacy of our shipbuilding. To christen this ship Edinburgh Castle gives me great pleasure, for she will ever be linked in my mind with that lovely city for which my affection has grown with each visit.’
WATCH: Pathé newsreel of event with rare footage of the dangerous launch process.
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1894 Ulstermore

The 6,326-ton cargo and livestock carrier Ulstermore (Yard No. 288) was launched today at 10.30am from the north end of the yard for William Johnstone & Co., Liverpool. The vessel, built to the highest class of Lloyd’s of London and was intended to run in the Company’s Atlantic service represented a new class of cargo ship designed and built at Belfast.

She was 450 feet in length and 48 feet in breadth. The spar deck fore and aft was fitted out for cattle, which were also carried on the after part of the upper deck. Ulstermore, and her sister ship Blairmore (Yard No. 287), were fitted with four steel pole masts, derricks being attached to each and seven hatches with winches, allowing the vessels to be quickly loaded and discharged.

In the wheelhouse aft Wilson & Pirrie’s patent combined steam and hand steering gear, with spring quadrant to the tiller was fitted. The saloon and captain’s room and also the rooms for the officers were on the bridge deck and the quarters for the engineers and fireman located on the spar deck; those for petty officers were on the upper deck aft; while the cattlemen, seamen, firemen and trimmers were under the forecastle. The vessel was fitted throughout with the electric light and with triple-expansion machinery of the latest type also constructed by the builder.