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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 20:08 GMT 21:08 UK
Titanic relics go on show
By Ivan Noble
BBC News Online science staff

An exhibition of objects recovered from the wreck of the Titanic, including a chunk of the ship itself, goes on show to the public at the Science Museum in London on Friday.

Cup recovered from Titanic wreck
Titanic was the pride of the White Star Line fleet
Visitors can see crockery from the ship, papers, money and personal effects preserved for decades in baggage, and one of the liner's bells.

The display includes mock-ups of Titanic's first and third class cabins and an exhibit which demonstrates the terrible cold encountered by those trying to escape the ship after it hit an iceberg and began to sink.

Historic ship

Each visitor receives a boarding pass bearing the name of one of the passengers.

Only when they reach the end of the exhibition do they discover whether the holder of their ticket survived.

My boarding pass belonged to a woman travelling first class.

Bag recovered from Titanic wreck
This bag held personal possessions including a masonic badge
She made it home, but her husband did not.

Construction of the White Star Line's Titanic began on 31 March 1909 and it sailed on its maiden voyage three years later, the biggest ship in the world at the time.

It was designed with 16 watertight compartments, so that even if the first four of them were breached, the ship would remain afloat.

Yet late on the night of 14 April 1912, the great liner hit an iceberg, breaching six compartments.

From that point on, the exhibition relates, Titanic's sinking was "a mathematical certainty".

A total of 1,522 people were killed in the disaster. Only 705 survived.

Preservation effort

The recovery and preservation of artefacts from the wreck of the Titanic has been a collaboration between a US company called RMS Titanic, the French Oceanographic Institute (Ifremer) and the PP Shirshov Institute of Oceanology in Moscow.

Top hat recovered from Titanic wreck
Fabric items such as this top hat required careful conservation
Divers used submersibles built of titanium and steel to dive four kilometres (2.5 miles) beneath the sea to where the Titanic lies.

Six expeditions have been conducted to the wreck site, 729 km (453 miles) southeast of the Newfoundland coastline.

The first was in 1987 and the most recent in 2000.

Titanic: The artefact exhibition runs until 28 September at the Science Museum in London.


SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Titanic artefacts on display
15 May 03  |  Photo Gallery
Titanic survivor 'refuses' film invite
15 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
Titanic gets 3D treatment
14 Apr 03  |  Entertainment


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