The ship went down 100 years ago this week, on April 15th, 1912.
I’ve had a Titanic few months. I’ve been to the ship’s last port of call before the iceberg, seen Titanic artefacts in Singapore, met a descendant of a crew member and in a couple of weeks Mevrouw T and I will stay in a cabin in the Jane Hotel, New York, where survivors were put up while waiting for the inquiry into the disaster.
First things first. Last September I was in Cobh, down in County Cork, Ireland, doing Michael Martin’s Titanic Tour.
Cobh was the Titanic’s last port of call before the iceberg. 123 unfortunate passengers boarded here and 7 very lucky ones got off. Here’s Michael telling us the story by the Titanic memorial in the town.
We also had a chance to look at Cobh’s old post office, which was used as the embarkation office for Titanic passengers. First class passengers drank tea inside, steerage class ate their own sandwiches on the dock outside.
In February this year I was in Singapore, at the Titanic Experience exhibition in the extraordinary new ArtScience Museum. the lotus-flower shaped exterior is the tip of the iceberg (sorry!). The exhibition halls are downstairs.
The Titanic Experience will run till the end of April, then be replaced by the Harry Potter Experience.
The collection of Titanic artefacts is housed in recreations of the cabins, the great staircase, the deck, and there’s even an iceberg for people to feel.
The passengers who died are listed on the wall in the final room. Every one had a story of course, yet I found it telling that far more crew and third class passengers died than those who had paid the equivalent of $100,000 for their first class passage. A third class ticket cost in today’s terms around $900.
A few weeks ago at the invitation of Tourism Ireland’s Sydney office I went to a moving talk by Susie Millar, great-granddaughter of a Titanic crew member and a guiding light behind the new Titanic Museum in Belfast.
She told us the story of her great-grandfather, recently widowed and left with two small boys. He worked on the shipyard building the Titanic and signed on as a crew member, leaving his sons with relatives. A few days later he went down with the ship.
He could have been one of the workers in this photo.
Susie and Michael Martin will both be guests on a recreation of the Titanic’s journey, timed to stop over the site of the sinking today, then to continue on to New York.
Soon I’m going to be in New York myself, and Mevrouw T and I will stay in a cabin at the Jane Hotel.
The Jane plays up its Titanic connection for all its worth, but looks like fun, with rooms designed to resemble ships’ cabins. As long as they don’t leak or list, it should be a great experience.
The Titanic was not particularly famous before it sank. The launch of its sister ship Olympic in 1911 was a bigger event.
Why is it that despite the thousands of shipwrecks and countless millions of deaths of the past hundred years, the Titanic story still resonates?