A new collection of luxury table linen commemorating the RMS Titanic has been named after the local company that made linen for the White Star Line.
Blackburn-based textiles giant, Vision Support Services, recently unveiled its ‘Liddell’ product range - a table linen collection commemorating the Belfast-built liner, which sank in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15 1912.
Liddell was founded on the banks of the River Lagan in Donaghcloney in 1866. Set up by William Liddell, and then known as William Liddell & Co, the factory became the largest Irish linen jacquard weaving company in the country whilst a rival company, William Ewart & Son Ltd, founded in 1883, quickly became one of the leading dynasties in the Ulster linen industry.
During the early 20th century, William Ewart & Sons (later merging to become Ewart Liddell & Co) was the preferred linen supplier of bed, bath and table linen to the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company - owners of the White Star Line.
Supplying the entire fleet of vessels, including the RMS Titanic, the company produced the linen for the first class cabins emblazoned with the OSNC logo, in a contract that today would have been worth around £250,000.
In order to celebrate the brand’s 150th anniversary last year, Vision set about on a research project which took them to Northern Ireland to discover more about the history of the factory, the workers and William Liddell himself.
It was here that staff members compiled a huge amount of information taken from the Public Records Office, museums and even family members who’d had relatives working in the Liddell factory.
Working alongside renowned historian and author, Tom McCluskie MBE, Vision successfully recreated the most accurate reproduction of the first class table linen as it would have appeared at that time.
A former Harland and Wolff Archive and Administration Manager, Tom has authored several books on maritime history as well as acting as a technical consultant to 20th Century Fox and James Cameron for the box office hit, Titanic and is currently acting as a technical consultant for the Seven Seas Leisure project in recreating a replica of the RMS Titanic in China.
Tom said: “I have been honoured and delighted to be asked by Vision to advise them on their intention to reproduce a replica of the table linen used in first class on the RMS Titanic. William Ewart Ltd were one of the original linen manufacturers and suppliers to the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (OSNC) who were the owners of the White Star Line operators of the RMS Titanic among many other ships.
“A common misconception is that White Star Line were the owners of the RMS Titanic which is not the case and I was particularly delighted when Vision, the modern day incarnation of the original company, Ewart Liddell, determined to reproduce the original pattern linen as supplied to the ship. Accordingly, the OSNC logo and ornamental decoration was embossed into the material to recreate exactly the first class napery. This strict attention to authentic and historical detail presents the purchaser with a window into time of a bygone age of elegance and luxury.”
Adorned with the distinctive OSNC logo, the table linen collections feature a napkin set, large tablecloth or set with decorative memorabilia box.
The collection includes almost identical linen and designs and aims to be as closely matched to the original as possible. The limited edition collections are available for a short time only through Vision’s online shop - www.visionsupportservices.com/shop/collection/titanic-t148