BELFAST.- A detailed plan of the RMS Titanic is to go on display for the first time in almost a century.
The plan is that used during the British Board of Trade enquiry into the tragic sinking of the White Star liner on 15 April 1912.
It will go on display at Belfast City Hall from Saturday 23 April) until Tuesday 26 April, as part of Belfast City Council`s `Titanic 100` programme to mark the centenary of the ship`s launch.
The detailed drawing which is 32 feet six inches long and four feet eight inches tall, and to a scale of 3/8 inch to the foot is hand-drawn in Indian ink on a single piece of paper and shows all of Titanic`s main features, including passenger accommodation, crew quarters, cargo holds and boiler rooms.
A distinctive feature of the plan is a series of red and green chalk markings, indicating where the iceberg was believed to have penetrated five of Titanic`s watertight bulkheads, leading to the catastrophe.
The unique plan is being brought to Belfast by the auctioneers, Henry Aldridge and Son, as part of a display of Titanic and White Star related artefacts.
It is a strikingly magnificent and commanding piece, both historically and visually, commented the company`s Andrew Aldridge.
It eclipses anything we have seen on the market for Titanic in terms of size. This is a museum piece in the truest sense, he added.
The plan was displayed in the Scottish Drill Hall at Westminster throughout the 1912 enquiry into Titanic`s loss. Chaired by Lord Mersey of Toxteth, the enquiry began on 2 May and lasted until 3 July, asking more than 25,000 questions of nearly 100 witnesses over a period of 36 days and considering the written depositions of numerous others. Many of the witnesses who testified were members of Titanic`s surviving crew, in addition to White Star Line officials, officers of other vessels and maritime experts, including Guglielmo Marconi, who developed the system of wireless telegraphy which Titanic was one of the first ships to use.
At the end of the proceedings, Lord Mersey and his team found that the loss of Titanic was due to collision with an iceberg, brought about by the excessive speed at which the vessel was being navigated.
The plan which was returned to White Star when the enquiry was over will go on public display, for the first time, over the Easter weekend, as part of Belfast City Council`s `Titanic 100` festival, which starts on Saturday 23 April and continues until Tuesday 26.
Along the Aldridge display, there also will be an exhibition on life in Belfast on Sunday 2 April 1911, retold through the census documents of the time, while the Shipyard Memory Wall will focus on the stories of the thousands of men who built Titanic and so many other ships. All three exhibitions will be open from 10am 6pm daily until Tuesday 26 April.
Another highlight will be screenings of `Titanic: The Mission`, the acclaimed Channel 4 series which looked at the engineering achievement that was the mighty ship, by recreating iconic sections of the famous vessel. Alongside the screenings, two of the engineers who worked on the series, Brendan Walker and Dave Wilkes, will be sharing their experiences of making the five-part series in two special talks at the weekend.
Other talks will look at the life of Robert Welch, the photographer, and at Edwardian fashion.
For those bringing the family along to the City Hall, there will be plenty to keep the younger ones amused, with `Nearly True Tours` of the iconic building, storytelling, face painting and badge making each day.
All of the events at City Hall are free. Details of times and how to get tickets, where needed, can be found at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/titanic
The `Titanic 100` photographic exhibition also continues on the lawns of the City Hall, celebrating the building of the great ship from its inception to launch, through the photography of RJ Welch, the official photographer for Harland and Wolff.
For those wishing to explore further afield, a series of tours, both on land and water, visiting key landmarks associated with the Titanic story, also continue throughout April and May. These include bus and walking tours of Queen`s Island and guided walking tours of Edwardian Belfast, as it would have been known to Titanic`s designer, Thomas Andrews, and of the SS Nomadic. Tickets for all these tours are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre.
There are special tours of the Thompson Graving Dock officially opened on 1 April 1911 and once the beating heart of Harland and Wolff`s operations in the building of the huge White Star liners and the adjacent Pump House and visitor centre. Tickets for these can be booked via www.titanicsdock.com
The Lagan Boat Company also are offering their ever popular selection of Titanic-themed boat tours. For more details, visit www.laganboatcompany.com
Susan Millar - great-granddaughter of engineer Thomas Millar, who was one of the 22 Belfast men lost their lives on the fateful night of 15 April 1912 - takes a very personal tour of her Titanic Belfast for groups of up to five people.