Manufactured by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, the panels are carved to a design which matches the fittings installed in the Titanic and Olympic.
The first-class lounge panelling, framed in richly carved polished oak and carved in Louis XV style, has a guiding price of €250,000 – €350,000.
The oak had been seasoned for at least 35 years before manufacture, dating it back at least to 1877.
The second-class library is panelled and framed in maple, handsomely carved in a Colonial Adams-style design and includes a magnificent mahogany bar fronted with copper with a guiding price of €200,000 – €300,000.
The Britannic’s Harland and Wolff yard ship build number, S-433, is found on the reverse of most of the panels, either stamped, which matches the fittings installed in the Titanic and Olympic or, similarly to the H&W tender ship SS Nomadic, identified by chalk marking.
These pieces cannot be replicated, either for their historical value or their ornate craftsmanship. They are a truly significant nautical find of world importance.
The Life of The Panels
The HMHS Britannic never sailed with her intended purpose as a luxury oceanic liner to rival her sisters, the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic.
Instead, she was fitted for service as a hospital ship. The hand-carved panels were stored and the Britannic was instead fitted with hospital fixtures with the intention of transforming the ship at the completion of the war.
This was not to be. On the morning of 21 November 1916, with 1,065 people on board, she was struck by a naval mine near the Greek island of Kea and foundered 55 minutes later, killing 30 people.
The effect of the Great War was devastating, not only on lives but on the economy, and the luxurious furniture and fittings appertaining to New York financier J.P.Morgan’s White Star ocean going liner were auctioned off exactly one hundred years ago this summer.
The panels from both the first-class and second-class library were installed in La Scala Theatre and Opera House, Princess Street, Dublin, which later became the Capitol Cinema.
This theatre named its rooms in honour of the panelling – the Oak Room and Maple Room were named for the first-class lounge panelling, framed in richly carved polished oak from the Louis XV period, and the second-class library panelling, framed in maple sycamore and handsomely carved in a Colonial Adams-style design respectively.
These panels remained in place until the building’s demolition in 1972, when it made way for what is now Penney’s. The panels were then removed and installed as a bar in a private property in Dublin.
The panelling was assumed at the time to have originated from another ship, the Celtic.
In the past few years their true lineage was discovered, with Jim McAdam, Vice President for Ulster Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, involved in the authentication process.
The Britannic’s Harland and Wolff yard ship build number, S-433, is found on the reverse of most of the panels, either stamped, which matches the fittings installed in the Titanic and Olympic or, similarly to the SS Nomadic, identified by chalk marking.
The SS Nomadic served as the tender ship which was used to ferry passengers out to these magnificent liners, which were too big to enter Cherbourg or Cobb harbours. She is now berthed alongside the Titanic Centre in Belfast.
- The reverse of one of the oak first-class lounge panels made for the HMHS Britannic and bearing the ship’s number 433.
When the panels are compared with photographs of the panel interiors of her sister liners RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, the similarities are unmistakable.
CGI Image of 1st Class Lounge Panelling
Heading towards retirement, their current owner doesn’t spend time in Ireland, and they want the panelling to change hands to an owner that will enjoy sharing this rich history.
Niall Mullen Auctioneers convinced the current owner to part ways with these astonishing pieces of history. The owner’s only condition was that the sale take place in 2019, to reflect the auspicious date 100 summers ago when the panels were first sold in public auction.
We have taken the second-class library and recreated its bar setting in Killenard as it has been for the last 40 years, illustrating the rich history and life these panels have seen.
You can view them as they are now, and where they have been for the previous 50 years, in this video here: