Wed, April 11, 2012
World > Europe > 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy

New museum tells Titanic stories 100 years later in origin city

2012-04-11 00:15:32 GMT2012-04-11 08:15:32(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Xinhua Writers Bai Xu, Li Rui

 SOUTHAMPTON, Britain, April 10 (Xinhua) -- A rusty watch layquietly on a rack. Its time stopped forever at 1:50 am of April15,1912.

It was the moment when its owner, 3rd-class steward SidneySedunary fell into the sea from the legendary Titanic.

On Tuesday, Seacity Museum officially opened to public in theport city of Southampton, where the watch was displayed with someother items at a special exhibition in memory of the great disasterthat killed more than 1,500.

"We are open today because 100 years ago on this very day,Titanic set sail from here," said Mike Harris,head of leisure andculture in Southampton City Council.

The exhibition started at 1:30 pm (GMT 1230), and some 500tickets for the first day have been booked out long time ago.

Perhaps nowhere else could feel such deep sorrow as Southampton,which is hometown to 714 of the 897 crew members on Titanic. Amongthe 685 lost ones, 538 were from Southampton.

"It (the sinking) has a really huge impact to the city, when ithad only 100,000 residents at the time," Harris said.

At the entrance to the exhibition, there was a wall full of crewmembers' photos. Those whose photos were orange were fromSouthampton. The wall was mostly orange.

In another room, the floor featured a huge map showing the cityin 1912, with red dots representing the 500 plus families deprivedof their members. "This could give you a visual impact as how muchSouthampton suffered from the disaster," said Maria Newbery,curator of the museum.

Maybe the most valuable item was Sedunary's watch. "It wasrecovered from his body, along with some other belongings," Harrissaid. "It was a fitting tribute and emotional exhibit in manyways."

A sword attracted the attention of several children, whichbelonged to Captain Smith on Titanic. "The sword was presented tohis wife when he left," Harris said. The captain went down into thesea along with his ship.

A menu card sent back by someone from Titanic told visitors howluxurious the liner was.

In front of the mimical of a boiler, 78-year-old Peter Line wasshoving "coals" into the fire. "My grandfather was doing this 100years ago," he said.

His grandfather was a fireman on Titanic and died in thetragedy. As a result, Line said he must come to the museum to learnmore about him.

"I booked the ticket three weeks ago," he said. "Luckily Imanaged to get one."

Another visitor was silver-haired Harry Dymond, whosegrandfather Frank was also a fireman on Titanic but survived thedisaster.

"It was very interesting to see the sea books here, because mygrandfather had such books as well," he said.

Talking about his grandfather, Dymond was proud. "He was incharge of one of the life boats and saved 68 people," herecalled.

After a century, Titanic is still a hot topic to not onlySouthampton, but to the entire world.

"There are so many different theories about the sinking," Harrisfrom the city council said. "There was conspiracy theory,reflection of the design and even the rivets were blamed for thesinking."

There was also hearsay that Titanic was speeding at the time itbumped into the iceberg. Balmoral, a cruise ship retracing theTitanic's route 100 years ago, had to start two days before theTitanic so as to reach its wreck site on Saturday.

Titanic also left some legacies. "One of them was maritimesafety," Harris said. "More life boats were put onto theships."

His view was shared by Newbery, the curator. "Before theaccident, the number of life boats on board was related to the sizeof the ship, but afterwards, it was determined by the number ofpassengers."

"As of today, they also introduced a rule that every ship shouldhave a 24-hour radio operation system," Newbery said. At the timeof Titanic, the ship nearest to the wreck site only had one radiooperator, who was fast asleep and failed to receive the messagesfor help.

Even to the younger generation, the color of Titanic didn'tfade.

Dymond once went to talk to school children. The children askedmany questions, such as "If you were on board, would you save morepeople?"

"They were very interested," he beamed. "Because it is part ofhistory, living history." Enditem

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