Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Titanic images - lifeboat packed with survivors

Survivors of the Titanic disaster in a crowded lifeboat.
Survivors of the Titanic disaster are greeted by their relatives upon their safe return to Southampton.
The Titanic Building will immortalise one of history's most enduring tales

With the centenary of the most famous maritime disaster in history fast approaching, it seems there is no end to the interest in the Titanic.

It is the ship that launched hundreds of books, a couple of films and endless theories on why the supposedly unsinkable vessel was consigned to a watery grave after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage. And the market in anything connected to the ill-fated liner has moved up several gears ahead of the actual date of the disaster.

For example, all 1,309 places on a cruise recreating the Titanic's one and only voyage have been snapped up even at a cost of around £6,000 and no doubt there will be many other money-spinning ideas dreamt up in the coming months.

Of course Belfast, the place where the ship was built, will be hoping to benefit from the association. The signature Titanic project has already proved a hit with the public who have reserved tickets for the interactive exhibition even though it has not yet been completed.

This is a great opportunity to not only remember the Titanic but also the proud shipbuilding heritage of Belfast and the signature project can continue to evolve and attract long after the centenary is over. Northern Ireland has been very slow to use its Titanic - and general maritime - legacy as a tourist attraction but the tourism bodies are catching up fast.

Of course in all the excitement of the Titanic centenary and the rush to capitalise on it, everyone needs to remember that it was first and foremost a terrible human tragedy with 1,517 passengers and crew members dying. That death toll on a single night was the equivalent to half the number of people killed during the 30 years of the Troubles, a quite stunning perspective on the scale of the disaster.

Nothing that is done or produced during the coming centenary year should defile the memory of those who died.

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