The White Star Shipping Line was founded in 1850 to take advantage of an increase in trade following the discovery of gold in Australia.
In 1867, the White Star Shipping Line was purchased by Thomas Ismay and set up to rival Cunard in Trans-Atlantic passenger traffic.
Thomas's son, Bruce, became a partner in the firm and took over as company director in 1899 when his father died.
In 1902 the company was bought by wealthy American, J Pierpoint Morgan. Ismay retained his position within the firm as managing director. Morgan's money meant that the company could build large luxury liners to attract the wealthy passengers.
In 1907 Ismay suggested that the company build two liners which were heavier, bigger and more luxurious than any other ship in the World. They were to be called Olympic and Titanic. If these were successful a third, Gigantic, later renamed Brittanic, would follow.
This article is part of our larger selection of posts about the Titanic. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to the Titanic.