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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Unused Titanic ticket on display
The only known surviving first class ticket from the Titanic
A Liverpool cleric owned the ticket
Museum archivists have uncovered the story behind the only known surviving first class ticket for the doomed ship Titanic.

The unused ticket, which belonged to a Liverpool vicar, is to go on display as part of the North West Archives Festival, which gets under way on Monday.

The story behind the Titanic ticket has been researched by archivists at the Merseyside Maritime Museum at the Albert Dock.

The Reverend John Stuart Holden was unable to take up his first-class ticket when his wife fell ill the day before the luxury liner was due to make its maiden voyage from Southampton on 10 April 1912.

The Rev Holden stayed in England to nurse his wife, and four days later more than 1,500 passengers and crew died when the ship sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic.

'Liability strictly limited'

After the ship sank in April 1912, he mounted the ticket in a cardboard frame on which he wrote: "Who redeemeth thy life from destruction."

The ticket carried the warning: "The company's liability for baggage is strictly limited but passengers can protect themselves by insurance."

The Titanic
We feel immensely privileged to have this ticket. It is priceless.
Dawn Littler, Merseyside Maritime Museum
The document hung in his study to remind him of his lucky escape and following his death it was donated to Liverpool's Merseyside Maritime Museum in 1970.

It was considered too valuable to display and was instead placed in the museum's archive.

The ticket was unveiled on Monday after being included in a top 30 of the most unusual and valuable archives in the North West.

It will go on public display at the Maritime Archives and Library, which opens Tuesday to Thursday, for the next month.

Dawn Littler, curator of archives at the museum, said: "We feel immensely privileged to have this ticket. It is priceless.

"It gives an insight into the human side of a world-famous event.

"We hope it will remind people that archives are there for everyone to use and they contain more than just family or property history.

"As this ticket demonstrates, they can contain documents relating to events of international significance."

Controversial film

The festival will see historical archives put on display and special events are being planned at records offices across Merseyside, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Exhibits also include a 17th century recipe book, pictures showing the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal and footage from the North West Film Archive.

Film footage showing daily life in the Ordsall District of Salford in the 1960s is being shown as part of the festival. Its candid examination of slums caused great controversy when it was first screened.

An exhibition at Lancaster University will show a variety of items from the collections held in its rare book archive at Lancaster University which are relating to war or peace.

Letters from engineer George Stephenson, Edward Lear watercolours and report by the Dr William Henry Duncan - the first medical officer of health in Liverpool, and the country, are among the other items on display.

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