ounder Staging Exhibition in his home town-- Titanic Exhibition UK
Anyone familiar with the Titanic story will know of J Bruce Ismay, the head of the White Star Line in 1912. Bruce Ismay travelled on Titanic’s maiden voyage and became infamous because of his survival. The whys and wherefores of his boarding of a lifeboat have been debated up and down but there is no doubt that the action of saving himself destroyed Ismay’s reputation and impacted heavily on his personal life.
Less is known however about Ismay’s father, Thomas Henry, a man from Cumbria who built up the White Star Line into a global force. In 2012, a descendant of Thomas Henry Ismay is staging an exhibition in his home town of Maryport to commemorate the White Star Line and its most famous ships.
Cliff Ismay is the great nephew of Thomas Ismay. He says, “ There are grandchildren of the White Star Ismay's but they no longer have the Ismay surname. Our branch of the family is the closest relation to Thomas Henry Ismay an J Bruce Ismay with the family name. I traced our family lineage back to 1669. I feel that Thomas was a great man and his part in British maritime history has not yet been fully covered, so I wanted to stage a memorable exhibition that would not only tell his story but also how his birth and his childhood days at Maryport sowed the seeds for his illustrious career.”
The exhibition will be staged in Maryport, Cumbria for 7 weeks from 26th March 2012 to 13th May 2012 and will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 17:00. Cliff is co-director of the Maryport Maritime Museum but as the exhibition is too large for that space, it will be held at The Wave in Irish Street. Cliff say, “ For me the most interesting displays are the Marconi Room, the a la carte restaurant display and the third class cabin. The steel built ‘Three Sisters’ collection will be on public display for the first time collectively. Titanic’s sister ships, Olympic and Britannic are shown in their splendid war-time livery. “
He adds, “My wife would probably say that the most interesting exhibits are the Kate Winslet dress and the movie props.”
It wasn’t only the family connection which inspired Cliff Ismay to put together this exhibition in time for Titanic’s centenary year. It was also a wish to put Maryport back on the maritime map, having been forgotten for centuries. “Maryport started life as a major Roman settlement and was strongly influenced by Hadrian, the garrison was known as Aluna. In more recent times the land was owned by Humphrey Senhouse who named the town after his wife, Mary. For around a hundred years before the birth of Thomas Ismay, Maryport was the third largest port in England. Ships traded worldwide but in Ismay’s day the majority of the town’s shipping trade was transporting coal to Ireland. There was a regular sea trading route between Maryport and Liverpool.”
The wealth of the Ismay family before they moved to Liverpool can be seen in a stained glass window donated to St. Mary’s church in memory of Thomas Ismay’s parents. The clock on the spire of Christchurch was also donated by the family.
It is not only the preparation for the exhibition which has reawakened Cliff’s interest in his family history. Last summer he took part in a television documentary which will be screened on UTV in Northern Ireland. It follows the reunion of the Pirrie family who gathered in Belfast to commemorate the centenary of Titanic’s launch last Spring. The production team also brought some of the Pirries and Cliff to the former home of Lord Pirrie in London, to the room where Pirrie and Ismay are reputed to have discussed their plans for three great liners, including Titanic.
“There was a huge wow factor when I met members of the Pirrie and Andrews family in London, “ says Cliff. “It was the first time members of these families had been in the same room in a hundred years. It was interesting to see what had become of the Pirrie and Andrews family and to hear stories passed down through the generations. I wished I could have spent more time with them and I believe that some will be making the journey to Maryport in 2012.”
There will be more information on the documentary, “Titanic, the Missing Link” on this site in the coming weeks.
Event Date(s) : The exhibition will be staged in Maryport, Cumbria for 7 weeks from 26th March 2012 to 13th May 2012 and will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 17:00.
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