In Focus: The Haltwhistle Connection
The RMS Olympic was Titanic’s sister ship and they were considered almost identical. It is from the Olympic that most researchers get their information from regarding the Titanic. Especially the interior as the Olympic was open for press photography whereas the Titanic wasn’t. In 1935, immediately before the Olympic was scrapped, her fittings and fixtures were sold at auction.
A man called Douglas Smith, of the paint firm Smith & Walton, attended the auction with the intention of purchasing panelling and fittings to fit out a new factory building, as an office block and canteen.
He bought numerous items from the auction. From the Olympic’s dance floor to star mouldings from the first class smoke room.
During the 1990s the factory was occupied by a company called Akzo Nobel Decorative Coatings (Crown Paints) and they were contacted by Titanic – Adventure Out of Time’s producer, Andrew Nelson regarding the Olympic fittings so they could work on a digital recreation of the Titanic for the game.
I managed to obtain copies of the written correspondence between Cyberflix and Akzo Nobel and have published some of the letters here (not all, and certain info has been omitted.)
Many thanks to Stuart Kelly for supplying me with the information I needed. I recommend anyone in the RMS Olympic to feel free to visit his personal website here.
For those who have played the game, you may notice that Henry and Ribeena Gorse Jones, two of the characters in the game that you meet on one of the First Class stairwells mention that they are from Haltwhistle. I’m guessing that this place name was decided during Cyberflix’s research of the Olympic Fittings.
If anybody is curious as to the current whereabouts of the Olympic fittings then they may be disappointed to hear that they were sold at auction in September 2004 to various collectors all over the world. However, on a positive note it could mean there is an increased chance that the items will be viewed by the general public.
- The Haltwhistle Connection by Raymond Cowell (top two pictures taken from his article)
- Encyclopedia Titanica Message Board