'Original' Titanic plan goes on display

Published Thursday, 15 November 2012
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The world’s most valuable piece of HMS Titanic memorabilia, speculated as an original blueprint of the ship, is to reside in Belfast where it is now believed it was drawn.

'Original' Titanic plan goes on display
The historic plan is to be displayed at Titanic Belfast. (© Titanic Belfast)

The plan was used throughout the British Titanic Inquiry just one month after the great ship's sinking in April 1912 and is to reside at Titanic Belfast, the world's largest Titanic museum.

The historic plan, commissioned by the Board of Trade for the British inquiry, was designed and prepared by White Star Line architects.

It allowed 96 witnesses called to testify, to indicate various parts of the ship using a pointer, and original markings remain to this day.

After the inquiry concluded that the loss of Titanic had been brought about by "excessive speed", this historic plan was returned to White Star Line.

It was put on display for the first time in a century last year at Belfast City Hall to mark the centenary of the ship's launch.

It remained in private hands until earlier this year when it was bought at auction by a private bidder, it sold for £220,000 - the most ever spent on a piece of Titanic memorabilia at auction.

The owner has donated it for display for at Titanic Belfast on the very slipway where Titanic was built by the famous ship-builder Harland and Wolff.

My belief is that this plan was used for reference at the fit-out stage of Titanic and would therefore have been in existence from around 1908.

Sean Madden, Fine Art Studio

Sean Madden, Paper Conservator at the Fine Art Studio in Lurgan, Co Armagh, has tenderly prepared the huge British Titanic Enquiry Plan for its forthcoming arrival at Titanic Belfast.

After analysis of the drawing, he believes the plan was likely drawn in Belfast and used during the fit-out stage of the ship.

He said: "This is a Titanic drawing and plan in every sense, and it is my view that it could not have been drawn, even by a team of people, in the time-span between the disaster and the British Inquiry.

"I would estimate that White Star Line would have only had around 10 days to prepare and draw this piece and that would not have been possible back then."

"There is almost no time to be able to make a Titanic sized drawing, which this is," Mr Madden told UTV.

"Looking at that, looking at the detail and looking at the expertise of that's gone into making it, you're really left assuming, probably correctly, that this was a working drawing while the Titanic was being built itself."

He added: "There is room for a lot more research on this remarkable piece of the Titanic story, of that I am certain."

Mr Madden said the plan has been "fascinating" to work on. "I would say that it transcends economic value, given its role in Titanic history. Restoring and preparing the plan for display at Titanic Belfast has been an honour," he said.

"It is in remarkable condition for its age and a vital piece of the Titanic story. It is without doubt one of the most famous artefacts of Titanic. Historically, it is very important," he said.

Titanic Belfast CEO Tim Husbands said: "It is an overwhelming gesture by the owner of the British Titanic Inquiry Plan to display it at Titanic Belfast for visitors to view.

"The historical and cultural importance of the Inquiry Plan cannot be overestimated. We are very excited about its forthcoming arrival to Titanic Belfast."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
JO in Belfast wrote (804 days ago):
Yes, the plan could have been drawn BEFORE the keel was laid, as that's generally the sequence of things... you don't lay a brick before the plan of the house has been drawn...
E.K.L. in NYC wrote (804 days ago):
Drawn during fitting out in 1908, almost a year before the keel was laid and the ship was even named "Titanic"? Really...
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