The letter that never reached the Titanic

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Detail of May Louise McMurray's poignant letter

As the title suggests, this year's major exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum, Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story, will focus on local connections to the disaster – a side of the tragedy that many people may not be aware of. The liner never visited the port but was registered here and many of the crew were based in Merseyside. The loss of the ship and so many people on board therefore had tragic consequences for many families in the area.

For example, Birkenhead-born William McMurray, aged 43, was a First Class bedroom steward on the Titanic. He lived with his wife and three young children in Kensington, Liverpool. Just three years earlier William had won a gallantry medal for helping to rescue 1,700 people from the stricken steamship Republic on 24 January 1909.

Wiilliam had been away in Belfast for several weeks before the Titanic's voyage. His daughter May Louise wrote her first letter to him while he was away, but it arrived in Southampton after the ship had sailed. Two days later he was one of more than 1,500 passengers and crew who died in the Titanic disaster.

The letter was returned to Liverpool and treasured for many years by the family before being donated to Merseyside Maritime Museum in 1989 by May Louise’s own daughter, William McMurray’s granddaughter. It will be displayed for the first time in the exhibition. Read the letter and listen to it being read out in this preview on the exhibition website.