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30 facts to mark 30 years since underwater Titanic discovery

This year marks the 30th anniversary since the watery grave of the Titanic was discovered.

Titanic's final resting place was discovered almost 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, at a depth of 13,000ft  on September 1, 1985 by a team led by American oceanographer Dr Robert Ballard and French diving engineer Jean-Louis Michel.

To mark the occasion, Titanic Belfast has laid on a number of events.

Here are 30 facts you may not already know about the ill-fated famous Belfast-built luxury liner and the tourist centre commissioned in its honour.

1. Titanic’s design was conceived over a glass of wine and fine food. Lord Pirrie and J Bruce Ismay decided speed would be balanced with quality of accommodation. It is rumoured that when Pirrie enquired as to the length of the ship, Ismay replied, glass of wine in hand, “build me a stable ship that will not disturb the sediment in these fine wines.”

2. At 271metres long Titanic could span three tempestuous Atlantic Ocean wave crests.

3. Due to the size of the Olympic-class ships, in which Titanic was one of three, the shipyard, Harland and Wolff in Belfast had to prepare for two years to be able to build them.

4. At the time, Belfast was the fastest growing city in the British Empire, it was the linen and ropework capital, with the largest ship building firm in the world. Evidence of this can still be seen throughout the city today.

5. The ship had three wheels for steering.

6. Titanic’s funnels were wide enough to drive a train through.

7. Facilities on board included a gym, pool, Turkish bath, a kennel for first class dogs, and a squash court. The first class cabins on Titanic, where the same standard as hotel cabins, second class was as good as first class on other ships.

8. The famous staircase, which was among the most luxurious appointments on the ship, was inspired by the staircase at Belfast City Hall.

9. Titanic was stocked with literally tons of food and drink – including 40,000 eggs and 15,000 bottles of ale.

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10. Titanic was launched in 62 seconds on 31 May 1911. The Olympic, and the tender ships, Nomadic and Traffic left Belfast, drawing over 100,000 spectators and journalists travelling from London and America.

11. Titanic now lies 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, nearly two and a half miles (4,000m) below sea level overlooking a small canyon below.

12. There is no light at this great depth and little life can be found. At Titanic Belfast, visitors can view Dr Ballard’s high definition footage of what Titanic looks like today and can learn more about individual items in the wreckage using the interactive pods.

13. Titanic Belfast is built where the Titanic was designed and launched.

14. The Titanic and SS Nomadic have been re-united again in Belfast. Visitors can experience both the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience together with the SS Nomadic, an authentic piece of Belfast’s industrial heritage, as well as the award-winning Discovery Tour, which highlights the famous barrel-vaulted Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices, the slipways and the building’s iconic structure for one price.

15. Titanic Belfast is the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience.

16. It has welcomed approximately 2.5million visitors from over 145 countries.

17. From HRH Queen Elizabeth, Film director James Cameron, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Former United States Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton to Michael Buble have all visited Titanic Belfast.

18. It can hold over 3,547 visitors at any one time, the same number as the capacity of Titanic.

19. Titanic Belfast’s overall shape represents the bow of the ship.

20. The hulls are the same height of Titanic from keel to Boat Deck.

21. 40,000 tons of concrete was used in Titanic Belfast’s foundations, nearly the same as for Titanic.

22. The world-class exhibition, which has been described by the Prime Minister as ‘absolutely brilliant’ and ‘magnificent and dramatic’ by Titanic movie director, James Cameron, has recently redeveloped three galleries, which capture the excitement of launch day, as well as the ship’s maiden voyage. Utilising Pepper’s Ghost illusion that was featured in the James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever, as well as fellow world class attractions such as the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, Titanic Belfast recently introduced Fredrick Dent Ray, a dining room steward and survivor. Visitors will hear what it was like to work on board at the Palm Court Cafe.

23. At Titanic Belfast, guests are now transported onto Titanic’s deck promenade as part of the experience. Guests can walk on deck, look out to sea, hear the ocean, hold onto the railings and feel the ships engines rumbling as if they were on the ship itself.

24. The last letter ever to be written on board the Titanic by Essex-born Esther Hart and her seven-year-old daughter Eva just eight hours before the ship hit an iceberg and sank in April 1912 is on display. It recently sold at auction for a world record sum of £119,000.

25. A note from the Titanic assistant ship's surgeon Dr John Simpson, which was believed to long-lost, is also on display at the exhibition.

26. Titanic Belfast is home to the historic plan, commissioned by the Board of Trade for the British inquiry, was designed and prepared by White Star Line architects. It is the second most expensive Titanic artefact in the world.

27. It’s not only the galleries that tell the story of the Titanic but the surrounding buildings. On the plaza surrounding the Titanic Belfast is one of the largest maps of the Northern Hemisphere at 10,000 m2 and follows the route of the Titanic from Belfast.

28. The wooden benches encircling the building and are spaced in Morse code sequence. Moving clockwise around the plaza they read “DE (this is) MGY MGY MGY (Titanic’s call sign) CQD CQD SOS SOS CQD” – the distress message that Titanic sent after hitting an iceberg.

29. On the slipways, there is life size plan of Titanic’s Promenade Deck which is inlaid in white stone, where the ship would have been constructed, outlining where the liner’s lifeboats and funnels and benches on board would have been.

30. The Slipways have their own Memorial garden, where four grass lawns alternate with timber decking to illustrate the proportion of those who lost their lives and lived from each of the passenger classes and crew.

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