Titanic 'last letter' to be displayed

Published Friday, 22 June 2012
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One of the last letters sent from the Titanic will go on display at the new Titanic Belfast centre this summer.

Titanic 'last letter' to be displayed
John Martin, Dr Simpson’s great nephew, with the letter. (© Titanic Foundation)

It was written by the ship's assistant surgeon, Dr John Edward Simpson, and posted to his mother at Cobh in Co Cork, where Titanic raised anchor for the final time.

The letter, dated 11 April 1912, was passed down through several generations of the family before it went missing - but it turned up for sale at a New York auction house in March.

It was due to be sold with a $34,000 reserve price, but after hearing a campaign by relatives of the Simpson family, a mystery benefactor stepped in.

That turned out to be Titanic Foundation, whose members wanted to make sure the note was "brought home" to Belfast

"We found out from Dr Simpson's family that the letter was coming up for auction in New York and we thought that in the centenary year there would be a lot of interest - but we really wanted to bring it home," said Bryan Gregory of the foundation.

"We know a little bit about Dr Simpson's last hours on the ship from the accounts of survivors and the letter helps us to flesh out the story of this Belfast- born doctor.

"It is a unique part of Titanic history."

More than 1,500 people died when the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on its ill-fated maiden voyage across the Atlantic 100 years ago.

Dr Simpson, who was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Queen's University, was amongst the victims.

The letter will be unveiled at Titanic Belfast to some of his descendants on Friday, before going on display in the centre's Britannic Suite later this year.

John Martin, a great nephew of Dr Simpson, said: "We are so pleased and relieved that the letter is back in Northern Ireland and part of Titanic Belfast.

"Anyone who has seen the exhibition will know that there were many 'heroes' that night and we as a family are indeed very proud of John Simpson.

"The letter is back where it belongs in Dr Simpson's home city, and we as a family are delighted, and very grateful, that visitors will be able to view the letter as they follow the story of the ship and its passengers and crew through Titanic Belfast."

© UTV News
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