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RMS Olympic at Cherbourg
2K views · Aug 20, 2022
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I promised I would post the full film of the Olympic at Cherbourg once I had got it scanned so here it is.    

This was shot in the mid-1920s but for the passengers on the Nomadic, waiting to board the Titanic at Cherbourg on 10 April 1912 this must have been an almost identical view.

It's fair to say our filmmaker's skills were variable at best, and the film is a bit worn out, but it has some interesting points. The views come from a home movie that also takes in Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, and Italy,  I have included a few ocean liner and boat-related snippets from Alexandria and somewhere off the coast of Turkey or Greece.  If you can identify any of the mystery ships let me know.


1. The starboard side of the Olympic seen at Cherbourg as our travellers return home to America. Towards the bow of the Olympic there is an open door, others may know better but this looks like the location of the door to the 3rd class open space.

2.  The camera pans the full length of the Olympic.  The tender Traffic is first seen towards the stern of the Olympic, moving forward, there was an entrance for 2nd class passengers and their baggage on E-Deck around this spot.

3. The Traffic is further forward now and not quite up against the hull of the Olympic.  The film is probably being shot from the Nomadic which pulls around the Olympic's stern.  It is not perfectly clear but it appears that there is an entrance open on the Olympic's port side, so perhaps first class passengers were embarked on the that side, although as the starboard side would be the lee side the port entrance may (I'm speculating) only have been used in calm conditions.


4. Looking over toward the port side poop deck as the Olympic steams at speed.  The railings have windbreaks attached to them. The camera pans across revealing a gangway along the length of the open third class promenade connecting the poop deck to the bridge deck. An officer emerges from behind a ventilator and sits down with two colleagues outside the 2nd class entrance.  On A deck passengers are playing shuffleboard and mini-golf near the main mast. A steward is seen walking around a little aimlessly!

5. Olympic steaming along with possibly a slight heel, this time looking over the starboard poop deck.


6., 7. At New York a tug approaches "NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD, FAST MAIL AND PASSENGER [??]" on its side

8. The American flag flying from (presumably) the Olympics mast.

9.,10 The Statue of Liberty at a distance and quite overexposed!

11.  Crew at work on the Olympic's forecastle.  The camera pans across New York.

12. Passing Battery Park. The Whitehall building visible. The camera pans back to the forecastle as the crew prepare for docking.

13. Tugs alongside the hull of the Olympic.


14. The camera pans across the harbour right to left.  An unidentified large two-funnel liner can be seen in the distance.  A single-funnelled steamer comes into view and the camera pans across its entire length.  This may be the Orient line: SS Arcadian, ex-Asturias?  In the distance, beyond her bow can be seen the Ras el Tin Palace.

15. Beginning with the Ras el Tin Palace we pan right from a slightly different location... perhaps aboard the vessel seen in the previous shot?  A white-hulled passenger/cargo vessel can be seen.  A lovely sailing dinghy passes nearby.  In the distance the same (probably) two-funnelled steamer.

16. A grey-hulled cargo vessel with a distinctive counter stern is seen.  Many smaller boats are seen as the camera pans, and then the three-funnel Belgenland comes into view.

17. More vessels are seen as the camera pans again.


18. Shots of the coast and a cargo ship is passed. Various other small boats.

19. An unidentified two-funnel liner with a cruiser stern is seen.

Well, that's it for now.   Many more boats in this set of films but to be fair, a lot of them are gondolas!  Hope you liked it.

Credits: Unknown photographer, original films courtesy of Jim Kalafus. Scanned in 2k.
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