Mystery benefactor returns Titanic letter to Belfast

Titanic letter returns to Belfast

Posted on March 13, 2012

Belfast Titanic Experience visit the world’s largest Titanic Experience, join us on our historic day tour to Belfast from Dublin.

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.

Albert Memorial Clock

things to see BelfastWhile in Belfast on your Titanic Experience day tour from Dublin check out the Albert Memorial Clock situated at Queen’s Square in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This leaning clock tower was completed in 1869 and is one of the best known landmarks of Belfast. In 1865 a competition for the design of a memorial to Queen Victoria’s late Prince Consort, Prince Albert, was won by W. J. Barre, who had earlier designed Belfast’s Ulster Hall. Initially Barre was not awarded his prize and the contract was secretly given to Lanyon, Lynn, and Lanyon, who had come second. Following public outcry the contract was eventually awarded to Barre. The construction cost of £2,500 (2011: £181,000) was raised by public subscription.

Being situated close to the docks, the tower was once infamous for being frequented by prostitutes plying their trade with visiting sailors. However, in recent years regeneration has turned the surrounding Queen’s Square and Custom’s House Square into attractive, modern public spaces with trees, fountains and sculptures.

The sandstone memorial was constructed between 1865 and 1869 by Fitzpatrick Brothers builders and stands 113 feet tall in a mix of French and Italian Gothic styles. The base of the tower features flying buttresses with heraldic lions. A statue of the Prince in the robes of a Knight of the Garter stands on the western side of the tower and was sculpted by SF Lynn. A two tonne bell is housed in the tower and the clock was made by Francis Moore of High Street, Belfast.

As a result of being built on wooden piles on marshy, reclaimed land around the River Farset, the top of the tower leans four feet off the perpendicular. Due to this movement, some ornamental work on the belfry was removed in 1924 along with a stone canopy over the statue of the Prince.

In 1947, the film Odd Man Out was filmed partly in Belfast, with the Albert Clock as a central location, although neither the town nor the clock is explicitly identified.

Visiting Belfasts Donegall Square

Donegall Sq. marks the northern boundary of the Golden Mile and the southern end of the pedestrian-only Cornmarket district. City hall, once a favorite target for IRA bombers, dominates Belfast’s old city center.

Why not visit Linen Hall Library or Belfast City Hall, on our Titanic Belfast day tours from Dublin. The most dramatic and impressive piece of architecture in Belfast is also its administrative and geographic center. Towering over the grassy square that serves as the locus of downtown Belfast, its green copper dome (173 ft. high) is visible from nearly any point in the city. Inside, a grand staircase ascends to the second floor, where portraits of the city’s Lord Mayors line the halls, moving down the wall each year as the latest portrait is hung. Stained glass and huge paintings depicting all aspects of Belfast industry highlight the impressive rotunda, while glass and marble shimmer in three elaborate reception rooms. The City Council’s oak-paneled chambers, used only once per month, are deceptively austere, considering the Council’s reputation for rowdy meetings (fists have been known to fly).

Directly in front of the main entrance, an enormous marble Queen Victoria stares down visitors with her trademark formidable grimace, while bronze figures representing Shipbuilding and Spinning kneel at her feet. A more sympathetic figure of womanhood stands on East grounds, commemorating the fate of the Titanic and her passengers. The interior is accessible only by guided tour. (tours M-F 11am, 2, 3pm, Sa 2 and 3pm. Tour times may vary; no tours on Bank and Public Holidays.

Other Sights. One of Belfast’s oldest establishments is the Linen Hall Library with the red hand of Ulster atop its street entrance. The devoted librarians have compiled a famous collection of over a quarter million items documenting the social and political history of Northern Ireland since 1966. (Enter via 52 Fountain St. Free tours available, but call ahead. Open M-F 9:30am-5:30pm, Sa 9:30am-1pm.) Nearby, the Victorian Scottish Provident Institution, built in 1902, displays a facade featuring panels dedicated to the four main professions of Belfast’s industrial history—shipbuilding, ropemaking, spinning, and printing. (Across the street from City Hall, on the corner of Donegall Sq. N. and East Bedford St)

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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