Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Homecoming for original Titanic enquiry drawings

Danielle stanfield

cteditorial@thect.co.uk

A plan of Belfast's most famous ship dating back to 1908 is returning home after a generous private bidder donated it for display at Titanic Belfast.

This original plan was used throughout the British Titanic Inquiry just one month after the ship's sinking in April 1912.

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. 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 has, until earlier this year, remained in private hands. Bought at auction by a private bidder, the plans have now been donated for display at Titanic Belfast which is located on the very slipway where Titanic was built.

Sean Madden, paper conservator at the Fine Art Studio in Lurgan, has tenderly prepared the huge British Titanic Enquiry Plan for its forthcoming arrival at the award winning centre.

Sean said: "The plan is 1m 41.5cm x 9m 20.5cm and has been a fascinating piece to work on. 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.

"If the Mona Lisa was placed on sale tomorrow, how much would it be valued at? It is not possible to put a price on the Mona Lisa, and the Titanic Inquiry Plan is no different. It is irreplaceable. 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 added: "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.

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

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."

The plan is due to go on display before the end of 2012, the 100th anniversary year of Titanic's maiden voyage.

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