The Royal Mail Steamer Titanic, an Olympic class passenger liner belonging to the White Star Line, sank on 15th April 1912 with the loss of over fifteen hundred people after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic en route from Southampton to New York on her maiden voyage.
Built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, the Titanic was launched on 31st May 1911, and completed on 2nd April 1912, ready for her ill-fated maiden voyage. The passenger list included very wealthy people and migrants travelling to the United States looking for a better life. Despite meeting the safety standards of the time with water-tight compartments and doors, there were a number of failings which contributed to her sinking and huge loss of life. She lacked sufficient lifeboats; a message from another ship warning of icebergs was ignored and Titanic was being driven to reach New York in record time. The worst failing concerned the use of rivets that were poorly cast in her construction, resulting in a huge section of her hull ripping apart under pressure, filling six water-tight compartments and sealing her fate.
The legend of the Titanic continues to attract attention over a century later. Artefacts from the ship are very rare, but there is a good trade in memorabilia, not just for the Titanic itself but also for other White Star Line ships such as her sister ship, the Olympic. Old photographs of the ship leaving Southampton or of her interior before departure are just some of the replicas and reproductions available. Copies of newspapers and paperwork recording passenger lists, some of which have been well preserved, are also available. Memorabilia of the Titanic include pieces of coal retrieved from the seabed surrounding the sunken ship, plastic model ships and modern gold bars struck to commemorate the disaster.