SOUTHAMPTON: A lot of material promoting tourism in Southampton is about the cruises on the English Channel. There are long ones and short ones, on luxury and ordinary liners. Designed to suit different types of budgets and requirements, they are a major attraction in this city famous for its harbour.
Another tourist draw in this southern England city is the tale of a cruise that went wrong. Horribly wrong. For that, one has to visit the SeaCity Museum, which among other exhibits and galleries has a section on the most documented and ill-fated luxury cruises in history. It’s about the Titanic.
Every day, hundreds flock to the museum and the footfall has increased following the arrival of the World Cup and the Indian team. Other than Ageas Bowl, many make it a point to visit this place near the City Centre. With the pubs, shopping complexes and eateries serving different types of cuisine, this museum has become one of the popular destinations after being inaugurated in 2012.
There are no remnants or pieces of wreckage of the luxury liner which sank near New York on April 15, 1912, on its first voyage after setting off from Southampton, killing over 1500 of 2000 on board including passengers and crew members. But it has recorded voices of some of the survivors, narrating what they went through. These recordings were made decades after the tragedy. It also has a list of names of those who did not make it.
“A great hush descended on the town...there was hardly a single street in Southampton who hadn’t lost somebody on that ship...It was a great shock,” reads a note on the wall, along with newspaper clippings of those days. There are photographs of survivors returning to the city several weeks after the accident, with life-size replicas of some of the cabins made for passengers.
Other than causing international shock and triggering waves of grief, the Titanic disaster also led to a long inquiry. In a dimly lit hall built to create the feeling of a courtroom of those days, visitors can listen to a recreated version of the questions and answers. Close to 94 persons appeared in the inquest and over 25,000 questions were asked, says a flash message.
The museum is not only about the Titanic. There is a section on the history of the city, which among other things has photographs and small write-ups on the origin of Southampton FC and the Hampshire County Cricket Club. There is also a gallery on the city's ethnic history. But the Titanic unquestionably gets maximum eyeballs. In those rooms, time goes back 107 years and almost stands still.