The only known surviving Titanic first class ticket and other rarely-seen items linked to the disaster are displayed in Liverpool to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking.
The ticket belonged to Reverend Stuart Holden, vicar of St Paul’s Church, Portman Square, London. His wife became ill the day before the Titanic sailed, forcing him to cancel his voyage. Mr Holden had the ticket mounted and kept it above his desk until his death in 1934.
A compelling new exhibition explores little-known links between Titanic and Liverpool, the city that inspired the biggest ship in the world doomed to be most notorious shipwreck in history.
Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story opens at Merseyside Maritime Museum on 30 March 2012 in time for the 100th anniversary of the sinking on 15 April 1912 when more than 1,500 people lost their lives.
The exhibition explores Liverpool’s central role in the Titanic story. Told from perspectives of key personalities in the drama, it gives a unique insight into events surrounding the launch, voyage, the sinking and its aftermath. This is an incredible story told from a new angle. The year-long show draws on Merseyside Maritime Museum’s previously unseen unique collections of international significance including material from the museum’s extensive archives.
It complements Merseyside Maritime Museum’s existing exhibition, the hugely-popular Titanic, Lusitania and the Forgotten Empress, which opened in 2007, featuring the original 20 ft long Titanic builder’s model.
Titanic, Lusitania and the Forgotten Empress also features personal things belonging to those on board, a lifejacket, lifeboat items and many other exhibits including probably the only clothing worn on the night of the disaster in a public display.
Rachel Mulhearn, director of Merseyside Maritime Museum, says: “Titanic was built as a result of Liverpool’s leading position as a major world port. The city and its people are at the heart of the story.
“Not only was the Titanic’s sinking a major world event, the tragedy was a bitter blow to the port and the people of Liverpool. The new exhibition lifts the lid on this largely-overlooked turmoil in the wake of the sinking which resounds to this day.”
Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story is part of the National Museums Liverpool’s Liverpool and the World exhibition series part-funded by the European Union - the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Councillor Phil Davies, ERDF North West Local Monitoring Committee member says: “Titanic and Liverpool will be a highlight of the region’s cultural calendar in 2012.
“This ambitious, international exhibition will help fuel the North West visitor economy and raise awareness of the region’s fantastic cultural offer. Liverpool is a culturally dynamic city and exhibitions such as this demonstrate that we can deliver world-class visitor experiences year-on-year.”
Visitors in the new exhibition experience dark atmospheric spaces forming the backdrop to a series of dramatically-lit areas, each telling a part of the powerful story.
Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story follows these themes:
- Home Port sets the scene, introducing Liverpool and the main players in the Titanic story. On display for the first time is the complete Ismay Testimonial Silver – a stunning silver gilt table service presented to Thomas Ismay, founder of the White Star Line that later built Titanic.
- Olympic Class introduces key people behind the idea, funding and construction of Titanic and her sisters Olympic and Britannic. There are fascinating ship facts including scale and size. Collections are brought to life through photos, film footage, posters and pamphlets. Shipbuilders Harland & Wolff exhibits include a controversial lifeboat blueprint. Storylines look at leading personalities such as J Bruce Ismay, head of the White Star Line plus key Liverpool links including locations and suppliers.
- Voyage introduces crew and passengers – important players with Liverpool connections. The noise and bustle of the maiden voyage is recreated. Some of the crew and passengers with Liverpool associations are featured – the social structure on board is also examined. Exhibits include dresses designed by passenger Lucy Duff Gordon, tableware and the only surviving first class ticket.
- 2 hours 40 minutes spotlights human stories focusing on personal experiences to capture the dramatic final hours of Titanic. Also highlighted is the remarkable story of how the Cunard liner Carpathia rushed to the scene and rescued all of the survivors. Exhibits include telegrams chronicling the unfolding drama.
- Aftermath looks at the media frenzy that followed the sinking – contemporary newspapers and film, eye-witness accounts and archive collections including Titanic Relief Fund ephemera. This section tells how Liverpool received the news and the impact it made, survivors and the bodies of victims coming home, findings of the official Inquiries and heroes and anti-heroes. Survivor J Bruce Ismay was heavily criticised, victim Captain Edward Smith immortalised and Captain Arthur Rostron made a hero.
- Living On is a brief epilogue of life after Titanic and how key players coped with life after the disaster. Following the release of the feature films A Night to Remember (1958) and James Cameron’s Titanic (1997), the Titanic story enters many areas of popular culture with numerous myths and conspiracy theories. This section includes film props used in Titanic and poignant items salvaged from the wreck.
- J Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, who controversially survived the disaster in one of the last lifeboats to leave the stricken liner.
- Captain Edward Smith, the veteran master approaching retirement when he went down with his ship.
- Fred Barrett, one of Titanic’s firemen who described the turmoil in the engine room as water flooded through the ship.
- Fred Clarke, a member of the ship’s specially-hired band who all died after they heroically played on as the ship sank.
- Fred Fleet, abandoned as a child in Liverpool, was the lookout who spotted the iceberg. He survived after taking charge of a lifeboat.
As well as the first class ticket, exhibits include the Ismay Testimonial Silver– a stunning parcel-gilt dinner service presented to White Star founder Thomas Ismay, father of J Bruce Ismay. This is the first time the entire table service has been on public display together.
There are letters from passengers, many photos including J Bruce Ismay and crew survivors returning to Liverpool, an original copy of the British Inquiry proceedings, postcards from passengers and crew plus items recovered from the wreck.
A Titanic launch pamphlet recalls the pride and confidence in the new liner while telegrams from the rescue ship Carpathia reflect emotions after the disaster.
More information at www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/titanic