Inquiries and reputations

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drawing of Bruce Ismay being questioned in court Bruce Ismay being questioned by the attorney general. Copyright Julia Quenzler.

This illustration is taken from the Inquiries and Reputations presentation in the Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum. It was created by the artist Julia Quenzler, who sketches real life court room scenes for the BBC, and shows Bruce Ismay being questioned at the British inquiry into Titanic’s sinking. This part of the exhibition looks at accounts from crew and passengers given at the inquiry in 1912.

The aftermath of the sinking is a key theme in the exhibition. The world’s reaction and disbelief to news of Titanic‘s loss are highlighted in newspaper reports and film which you can see in the exhibition. Often fickle and inaccurate press reports were released as families waited anxiously to hear if their loved ones had survived. In this part of the exhibition we tackle these difficult and emotional responses to events which lasted a mere 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Reputations were made or ruined during the immediate inquiries into the loss of Titanic - firstly held in America and later in London. Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line received much of the blame for the disaster. American cartoons represented Ismay as a cruel businessman when in fact he had been left traumatised by the disaster. One of the telegrams to be displayed in the exhibition was sent from Captain Rostron of Carpathia (the rescue ship), dated 15 April 3.10pm. It described Ismay as ‘under opiate’ due to the loss of Titanic and many close friends and colleagues.

Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story is at Merseyside Maritime Museum from 30 March 2012.