The untold story of Titanic and Liverpool

8 November 2010 by Sam

detail of ship model showing the name 'Titanic Liverpool'

On ‘Inside Out’ on BBC1 in the North West at 7.30 this evening you can see an interview with Maritime Museum curator and Titanic expert Dr Alan Scarth. He’ll be talking about the Titanic’s connections with Liverpool – a subject that he researched recently for his book ‘Titanic and Liverpool’ – currently available from our online bookshop. He told us a bit more about it below.

Update 9/11/10: If you missed ‘Inside Out’ last night you can watch it online for the next week on the BBC iPlayer.

“Merseyside Maritime Museum has the best collection of Titanic-related objects in the UK, and one of the best of its kind in the world. These items have come from various sources, especially the White Star Line, Titanic survivors and crew members of the Liverpool-based liner Carpathia, which rescued all the survivors. We also currently have a display of loan items retrieved from Titanic’s wreck site.

Liverpool is central to Titanic’s story, because the ship was owned and managed by the city’s White Star Line. It is true that most of Titanic’s crew came from Southampton. But most of the main British characters involved in the sinking and its aftermath, such as Bruce Ismay, captains Smith, Rostron and Lord, and even Lord Mersey, who presided over the Board of Trade enquiry in London, were men with long Liverpool backgrounds. Most of the ship’s senior officers and more than one hundred of her crew, many in key positions on the ship, also had strong links with Liverpool.  It is no coincidence that the main crew corridor running through Titanic was known as ‘Scotland Road’, after the famous Liverpool thoroughfare of that name.

However until my book was published a few months ago, my home city had been largely written out of the Titanic story, something that I found very difficult to accept. I’m very pleased that my book has been very well received by book reviewers around the world and am particularly pleased that it has been so warmly praised by relatives of Merseyside people who were directly involved in the Titanic story.

I understand that one elderly lady was moved to tears when she bought my book and saw a photograph of her grandfather, a steward from Liverpool who died on the ship.  She said that this was the first photograph of him that she had ever seen. I also heard from a relative of Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line, who survived the disaster.  He was delighted that at last someone had written a book about ‘that ill-fated ship’ which did not ‘career off into fantasy and speculation.’

People are already asking about our plans to mark the centenary of the sinking. There will be commemorative events in all of the cities and ports with strong links to the Titanic story. On this side of the Atlantic the ‘Titanic Cities’ group, comprising Liverpool, Belfast, Southampton, Cherbourg and Cobh, is working to coordinate events for 2012. There will be a new Titanic exhibition at the Maritime Museum, plus other events across Liverpool.”

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