Titanic Honour and Glory Exhibit
The Mobile History Museum is hosting the US premiere showing of “Titanic: Honour and Glory” Exhibit. The exhibit that describes the building and sinking of the Titanic has toured Europe since 2002 and contains the largest collection of White Star Line and Titanic artifacts in Ireland.
Incorporating photographs and artifacts from the Titanic and Titanic’s White Star Line sister ships, Britannic and Olympic, Titanic’s story unfolds from the laying of her keel in Belfast, Ireland to her demise on April 14, 1912. The White Star Line under the direction of Bruce Ismay, led the company to build three luxury liners in the early 1900’s, the Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. The ships were built to compete with the Cunard Line’s ships the Mauritania and the Lusitania.
The exhibit incorporates items from the three White Star Line ships, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic.
Olympic was completed in Belfast and began service on June 11, 1911 and set the tone for the White Star Lines luxury class of ships. Titanic’s keel was laid in Belfast on March 31, 1909 at the Harland and Wolff shipyards. Britannic was redesigned after the Titanic disaster and was completed in 1914.
Designed by Thomas Andrews, Titanic was comprised of over three million rivets that were used on the plates and side of the ship and a million man hours to install the fixtures on the Titanic. The ship had four funnels but only three worked, the fourth was added for aesthetics only. The ship had twenty-four double end and five single ended boilers weighing one hundred tons each which burned six hundred tons of coal per day during a crossing. Her anchor weighed fifteen and half tons. Ismay declared Titanic “unsinkable” because of her automatic water tight doors.
Titanic received her first passengers on April 10, 1914 and set sail from Southampton then stopped in Cherbourg France and Cobh, Ireland to take on more passengers and mail. Two thousand, two hundred twenty-eight passengers and crew would begin the maiden voyage on the then largest ship in the world.
After four days at sea, Titanic had been alerted to the presence of icebergs in the area by other ships, the last coming at 11:00 pm. The ship Californian tried warning the Titanic of ice ahead. The warning fell on a busy wireless operator. Captain Smith altered the ships course due to the reports of ice yet still traveled at 22 knots. At 11:39 p.m., lookouts, Frederick Fleet and Reginald Robinson called ice right ahead and rang the warning bell. The officer on duty, Murdoch swung the ship hard starboard and a minute later, the ship shuddered as it rubbed alongside of the iceberg, ripping through the ships one inch thick hull and breaching it. Captain Smith who has been asleep in his cabin, hurried to the bridge to sound the ship as the ship continued her forward movement. He then had all forward motion stopped and engines stopped which allowed sea water to flood the ship.
Within 10 minutes, the bow had risen 14 feet above the keel. Thomas Andrews, the ships designer conducted his own inspection and concluded the ship might survive for 2 hours. It was then that Captain Smith issued the order to abandon ship.
The first lifeboats were launched at 12:25am with women and children to be loaded first. Of the twenty lifeboats that were lowered many were filled only to half capacity. Fifteen hundred people perished in the freezing water of the Atlantic. Titanic succumbed at 2:20 am. Carpathia, the first ship to arrive on the scene picked up 705 survivors some two hours later.
The Carpathia reached New York on April 18, 1912 with the survivors including the 214 surviving members of the Titanic crew, including Bruce Ismay. White Star realized there would still be bodies needing to be recovered from icy waters. The line commissioned cable ships from Halifax, Nova Scotia to lead the recovery on the bodies. The crew of the Mackay Bennett found bodies still tied in their white life jackets.
Care was taken to preserve any effects from the bodies to be used for later identification. Each body was numbered as it was recovered and those numbers would later identify the body. If the body could not be identified, the corresponding number was placed on the headstone when the body was interred in a cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Four ships returned with 209 bodies, 119 having being buried at sea. With recent DNA testing, some of the numbered graves have been able to be identified.
One survivor of the Titanic disaster is Violet Jessop, a shipboard stewardess. She was lowered in a lifeboat and rescued by the Carpathia. Jessop returned to work for the White Star Line in 1916 as a Red Cross nurse on board the Britannic, which was serving as a hospital ship in the Aegean Sea. On November 21, 1916, she would survive the explosion and sinking of the RMS Britannic. The Britannic went down quickly in only 57 minutes.
There is a Mobile Alabama connection to the Titanic, Colonel Archibald Gracie IV. Gracie was born in Mobile to a former confederate officer. While raised in New York he was a real estate investor, writer and amateur historian. He was rescued by the Carpathia and would be the first to write an account of the disaster. Before he could correct any errors in the account, he would become the first adult survivor to die after rescue in December, 1912
The wreck of the Titanic was discovered by Robert Ballard in 1985.
In 1997, James Cameron’s film, Titanic received the Academy Award for Best Picture. Included in the exhibit are several props from film, including two costumes worn by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
106 years since the disaster, the story still resonates with people. This exhibit is unique to other Titanic exhibits as it incorporates much more of the history of the White Star Line.
Tickets for the Titanic exhibit are $10.00 which includes admission to the history museum. The history museum has several events planned for to highlight the exhibit, a showing of the 1997 Titanic film, Third Class: A Titanic Irish Party and “The Last Dinner”, an eight course formal dinner, the Titanic menu recreated, to be held at the Battle House on April 14. The Honour and Glory will be on display through April.