Mystery benefactor returns Titanic letter to Belfast

Titanic letter returns to Belfast

Posted on March 13, 2012

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A mystery benefactor has stepped in to ensure a valuable letter written by an officer days before he died on the Titanic will return to his home town. Dr John Simpson penned to his mother onboard the doomed liner would be bought by a private collector when it was put up for auction in New York with a $34,000 reserve price.

But after hearing about a campaign by relatives of the ship’s assistant surgeon to bring the letter back to his native Belfast a mystery donor stepped in and bought it for the city just weeks before the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.

According to witnesses who survived the 1912 sinking, 37-year-old Dr Simpson stood with fellow officers on the deck of the stricken vessel as it went down. His great-nephew Dr John Martin said he was happy the letter was coming back to where it belonged. ”I’ve never actually seen the original letter itself as it was last in Belfast in the 1940s before Dr Simpson’s son moved away.

”So for it to be on its way back is just amazing and so appropriate now just ahead of the 100th anniversary of his death. We are so thankful to the benefactor.”

The letter, dated 11 April 1912 and written on notepaper headed RMS Titanic, was brought ashore at Cobh, Co Cork (then called Queenstown) before the ship set sail for the US.

It was dispatched to his mother Elizabeth who was living in Belfast’s Dublin Road. In it, the married father-of-one, who was then based in Liverpool, said he was tired but settling into his cabin well. He had worked on the Titanic’s White Star Line sister ship the Olympic for a year previously and observed to his mother that the accommodation on board his new vessel was larger.

Dr Simpson also complained he had found one of his trunks unlocked and $5 or $6 had been stolen from his pocket book. The surgeon, who treated second and third-class passengers, signed off: “With fondest love, John.”

It is intended that the letter will go on display in Belfast.

Day tours from Dublin to Belfast it will be Titanic

Check out this video Titanic Belfast 2012

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Schedule
Tour departs: 0800 am
Arrives in Belfast 10:30 am
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Tour departs Belfast: 15:30 hrs
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Visit Belfast Zoo

History of Belfast Zoo

Old picture of boys feeding an elephant in Belfast Zoo

The story of Belfast Zoo begins with the city’s public transport system.
At the beginning of the 20th century, passengers from Belfast were transported to the villages of Whitewell and Glengormley by horse-drawn trams belonging to the Belfast Street Tramway company and steam tramways from Cave Hill and Whitewell.
In 1911, the tram line was taken over by Belfast Corporation, now Belfast City Council.

Building Belfast Zoo

In 1933, the corporation decided to install a representative zoological collection on the site.
Then, in 1934, 12 acres on either side of the Grand Floral Staircase, a series of steps designed to reach the top of the hillside, were laid out as Bellevue Zoo.
It took 150 men to build the site and the steps can still be seen from Antrim Road today.
The zoo was opened on 28 March 1934 by Sir Crawford McCullough, the then Lord Mayor of Belfast.

The venture was supported by Councillor RJR Harcourt from Belfast Corporation and was partnered by George Chapman, an animal dealer and circus entrepreneur.
It cost £10,000 to build and a total of 284,713 people visited the zoo in its first year.

Impact of World War II

Many of the animals in the zoo’s first collection arrived in Belfast by boat.
Daisy the elephant travelled on the Heysham steamer and, after she was removed from her crate, she was walked by zookeepers from the Belfast docks to Antrim Road, a distance of between five and six miles!

In 1941, the Ministry of Public Security ordered the destruction of 33 animals after north Belfast came under aerial attack during World War II. Animals, including lions, wolves and polar bears, were killed and the collection was not restocked until around 1947.
Several elephants survived the attacks, and one baby elephant was cared for by an elderly lady who lived on the nearby Whitewell Road.

The modern zoo

During the 1950s and 1960s, the zoo went into decline.
By the time the corporation’s parks committee took control of the site in 1962, restoration was badly needed and work began on the new zoo site in 1974.
Since then, the council has continued to support the zoo, donating £1.5 million every year to help run and promote the site.

For more information about the history of the zoo, email history@belfastzoo.co.uk
If you would like to receive an information pack about the zoo’s history, email history@belfastzoo.co.uk or call 028 9078 2082.

Visit Worlds Largest Titanic exhibition plus Belfast on a day tour from Dublin

dublindaytours

Titanic Belfast day tours from DublinHistory of Belfast City Hall For many centuries, Belfast was a small settlement. Everything changed in 1613, when a Royal charter gave Belfast town status. It expanded rapidly, becoming an important port and manufacturing cent By the end of the 19th century, Belfast had outgrown its status as a town and was a major industrial powerhouse, known for its shipbuilding, rope making, engineering, tobacco and textile industries.

In 1888, Queen Victoria gave Belfast the title of city and it was generally agreed that a new city hall was needed to reflect this change in status.

Groups visiting Dublin are you interested in visiting the Worlds Largest Titanic exhibit plus plenty of free time to explore Belfast?

Building work Negotiations to acquire the one and a half acre White Linen Hall site, located in Donegall Square, began in 1896 and a price of £30,000 was agreed. Built by local firm…

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