A photographic plate, brought to Titanic Belfast recently by David Ward and Aileen Scott, shows Titanic in Southampton just before her maiden voyage!
David and Aileen from Bunratty recently visited Titanic Belfast and brought along a unique heirloom for us to look at - a photographic plate containing an image of Titanic, passed down by Aileen's father Richard Scott - a local maritime historian.
Richard, commonly known as 'Dick', was a keen photographer and had developed a large collection of maritime photographs and plates, which he always maintained included one plate with a photograph of Titanic.
Dick, pictured above on-board the Schooner Kathleen and May, was well respected throughout the maritime community in Ireland, having written a book 'Irish Sea Schooner Twilight' about the vessels that sailed around the coasts and rivers in the UK & Ireland.
Dick also wrote 4 editions of 'The Galways Hookers: Sailing Boats of Galway Bay' - based on the trading boats of the Galway area, where he played a key part in the formation of theGalway Hooker Association which is still very active and the boats can be seen in action throughout the sailing season each year.
Upon Dick's passing in 2008, his collection of maritime pieces were left to daughter Aileen who, after booking a visit to Titanic Belfast, decided to bring along the plate for some of our staff to look at!
After eliciting much excitement from the Titanic Belfast staff who loved looking at this fascinating piece of history, we enlisted the Public Records Office NI (PRONI) to help David and Aileen retrieve a print from the plate which can be seen below.
Based on research, PRONI have suggested the image was taken at Southampton at the end of quayside (Berth 44, Ocean Dock), with two other ships just visible in the far distance, reasoning that it was taken on one of the five days that Titanic was moored at Southampton (5 - 10 April 1912) before the maiden voyage and after she left Belfast. A set of four similar glass plate negatives of Titanic were sold at Christie's around ten years ago which would appear to be from the same photographer.
David and Aileen commented that they "were very excited to bring the plate to the Titanic Belfast" and noted, "It was great to meet the staff and see their excitement when they saw the plate for the first time as no one had seen this picture before. We could not think of a more fitting place to bring it to, as Belfast was were the story all started, and when we walked the area where she [RMS Titanic] was built it was a little emotional. We would like to thank all the staff at Titanic Belfast for their help and making us so welcome, and to PRONI for developing and researching the plate".