Real People, Real Stories: Roderick Chisholm

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In the first part of an ongoing series, read the stories of the people who designed, built and sailed on the Ship of Dreams.

This is one of many personal stories recounted as part of the reimagined Titanic Experience.


Roderick Chisholm

Skilled draughtsman and devoted family man...

Roderick Chisholm was the chief draftsman at shipbuilders Harland & Wolff.

Born in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1868, Roderick moved to Belfast in 1892. He rose through the ranks at Harland & Wolff over the next two decades, becoming one of the most skilled draughtsmen in the company. Highly respected in his field, he was also reportedly an accomplished linguist.

Roderick Chisholm (2) Roderick Chisholm

Roderick soon found himself working closely with master shipbuilder Thomas Andrews and was at the forefront in the design of the Olympic and Titanic. In fact, a photograph of staff at the Harland & Wolff drawing office is believed to show Roderick examining plans of the Olympic Class liners.

As a testament to his worth and the expertise he held in the structural detail of the ship, Roderick was one of just nine men from Harland & Wolff chosen to oversee the smooth running of Titanic on its maiden voyage. Known as the ‘Guarantee Group’, all nine men perished in the sinking and none of their bodies were ever identified.

A death notice printed in the Larne Times on April 27, 1912 stated that Roderick “knew more about (Titanic) than any other man”.

His estate, worth £140, 5s, 6d, was administered to his widow Susan on June 10, 1912.

Apart from being an accomplished draughtsman, Roderick is remembered by his family as a loving husband and father to his daughter Alice and son James.

Before Titanic left Southampton, Roderick purchased three vases to send home to his beloved wife in Belfast. Incredibly these gifts – the last he would ever give to Susan – remain in the family to this day.

Roderick Chisholm's Wife Deirdre McIntyre - Roderick Chisholm Descendant

Roderick’s great granddaughter, Deirdre McIntyre - who still lives in Belfast – said the vases serve a lasting reminder that "he was not just the best of the best in work, but much more importantly, he was best of the best at home, where is counts most of all".

Deirdre added: "All our family’s memories are derived solely from his daughter, Alyce, who would share about his love for them and his love of his many interests. He had a passion for the outdoors, loving not just the sea but also the countryside, ornithology, languages, and he was a prolific reader.

"Family times with fun and laughter were frequent in the house, with Christmas apparently always being an extra special time. His absence during Christmas 1912 must have been keenly felt.”


Find out more about the hopes and dreams of those who boarded the world-famous ship in the Titanic Experience.

The Titanic Experience

The Titanic Experience is the world’s most authentic retelling of the iconic story.

The self-guided tour extends over nine interactive galleries where you discover the sights, sounds, smells and stories of the ship, as well as the people and city that made her.

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