The toolbox

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Duration: 5 minutes

The stories of artefacts from personal collections, family inheritances and the odd museum piece all with links to Titanic. In this edition, the toolbox: Christopher Carnaghan.

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  • The tools of a skilled tradesman who worked on the Titanic

    The tools of  a skilled tradesman  who worked on the Titanic

    When Christopher Carnaghan was 11 he started a school project on the Titanic at Knockbreda Primary in Belfast. He had been told by his parents that his great-grandfather James had worked on the ship as a cabinet maker and that his toolbox was still in his granny’s house. After some rummaging in her shed, he found the toolbox, dusted it down and brought it in to his teacher, Alison Murphy. When they opened it up she was astonished by what she saw.

    It contained a treasure trove of woodworking tools which had been used by James Carnaghan nearly one hundred years before while working on the Titanic. The toolset includes, planes, chisels and saws in various sizes – all kept in a beautifully constructed toolbox. Both the tools and box had been handmade by Christopher’s great grandfather while an apprentice and are still in pristine condition today.

    Inside the box Alison Murphy also found a certificate showing James Carnaghan’s membership of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners in 1907 after he had completed his apprenticeship. This was a crucial milestone in his life. A trade allowed better wages, giving you real prospects in life and within a few years James Carnaghan had married and started a family of his own. However, a tradesman was nothing without his tools which is why he carefully stamped his name into all his.

    Christopher’s father also trained as a joiner and Christopher, now 20 years old, is at college in Belfast, studying for a career in the construction industry. The Titanic connection is a source of great pride to his family and they have lent out the tool set to many exhibitions over the years. The work that James Carnaghan did on the Titanic is still respected today.

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