The Ti­tanic: a liner to re­mem­ber

The Simple Things - - THINK -

The sink­ing of the Ti­tanic in 1912 is one of the world’s most fa­mous tragedies, with the loss of around 1,500 lives. “As the first ma­jor in­ter­na­tional dis­as­ter in peace­time, it gen­er­ated a huge in­ter­est,” says Eric Kent­ley, co-cu­ra­tor of ‘Ti­tanic Sto­ries’ at Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum, Corn­wall. “Not just in Amer­ica, Bri­tain and Ire­land, but also in Scan­di­navia and the Baltic coun­tries. No area seemed to be un­touched.” But it con­tin­ues to fas­ci­nate. As Kent­ley points out, “Few peo­ple have heard about the Doña Paz or the Wil­helm Gust­loff, which are far worse tragedies.” The rea­son, he thinks, is “partly be­cause it is so rich in sto­ries.” He ex­plains: “In the two hours 40 min­utes it took for the ship to sink, you can see ev­ery type of hu­man be­hav­iour – self-sac­ri­fice, self-preser­va­tion, brav­ery, cow­ardice, duty, in­com­pe­tence… It’s very easy to imag­ine our­selves on the deck of that ship and won­der how we would be­have.”

Some pos­i­tives did emerge from the dis­as­ter, how­ever, such as a re-ex­am­i­na­tion of safety mea­sures at sea. And, for the QE2, a per­haps sur­pris­ing surge in book­ings fol­low­ing the re­lease of the James Cameron film.

‘Ocean Lin­ers: Speed and Style’, spon­sored by Vik­ing Cruises, is at the V&A un­til 17 June, and opens at the Dundee V&A on 15 Septem­ber. ‘Ti­tanic Sto­ries’ is at Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum, Corn­wall un­til 7 Jan­uary 2019.

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