Near, far, wherever you are, you’ll have heard about the ill-fated Titanic, the ship of dreams that turned into a nightmare when it crashed into an iceberg and sank in 1912.
Whether or not you watched Kate and Leo fight to survive in the movie Titanic (1997), there’s much to learn about the reality of this ill-fated ship at Titanic Belfast – the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience. But just in case you want a headstart, here are the top 10 things we bet you never knew about the Titanic.
1) It started with a glass of wine
Lord Pirrie and J. Bruce Ismay were discussing the design of the ship over a fine meal when it was decided speed and quality accommodation would be of equal importance. Rumour has it that with a glass of wine in his hand, Ismay said “build me a stable ship that will not disturb the sediment in these fine wines.”
2) The staircase was inspired by one in Belfast
That famous staircase, which featured prominently in the movie as a meeting place for Jack and Rose, was a real life feature on the ship and one of the most luxurious fittings. It was modeled on the staircase at Belfast City Hall and you can still visit the original today.
3) It was a real 5-star experience
Titanic’s First Class cabins were designed to the same high standard as hotel rooms, and the Titanic’s Second Class cabins were as good as first class on other ships. Facilities on board included a swimming pool, a gym, a Turkish bath, a kennel for all those first class pooches and a squash court.
4) The last letter written on board was sold for £119,000
It was written by Esther Hart and her seven-year-old daughter Eva, from Essex, just eight hours before the tragic ship struck that iceberg and sank in April 1912. It sold at an auction for a whopping £119,000 and is now on display at Titanic Belfast.
5) Titanic was too big for its shipyard
Titanic was one of three Olympic-class ships measuring 271 meters in length. Big enough to stretch across three fully crested Atlantic Ocean waves they were all too big for the existing facilities at Harland and Wolff in Belfast. The shipyard had to prepare for two whole years before any of them could be built there.
6) There was enough food on board to feed three armies
Maybe even more. At the time of sinking Titanic was stocked with 75,000 lbs of fresh meat, 1,500 gallons of fresh milk, 250 barrels of flour, 40,000 eggs and 15,000 bottles of ale, to name just a few of the items some poor chap had to buy in bulk before setting sail.
7) It was launched during a coal strike
Titanic needed 825 tons of coal every day in order to sail. At the time of her voyage from Belfast, where she was built, to Southampton, where her maiden voyage to New York would commence, a coal strike was in place. Nothing could hold her back, however. The coal needed for Titanic was simply scavenged from other ships. Many of the passengers on Titanic were transferred from other ships that couldn’t sail because of the strike.
8) Titanic wasn’t finished when it sank
While it looked spectacular, some of Titanic’s interior work was yet to be completed when she sank. The heating worked in some areas, but not in others. Nine Harland & Wolff employees, including the ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews were on board to iron out any problems, but unfortunately they couldn’t prevent the biggest one of all. All went down with the ship.
9) The killer iceberg came from Greenland
Experts believe the giant iceberg struck by Titanic was half a mile long – it would have been double that length before travelling out from the Ilulissat ice shelf on Greenland’s west coast and along the 40-mile fjord. There are 40,000 icebergs born on the Ilulissat ice shelf every year.
10) The sinking was predicted 14 years before it happened
Writer Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility in 1898 – 14 years before the Titanic sank. His novel – a work of fiction – was about the world’s largest ship hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic ocean, on a freezing cold April night. The fictional ship was even called Titan. Spooky…