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May 30, 2011

Struth! Titanic plans fetch small fortune


IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that a huge 10-metre long plan of the Titanic that was used at the official enquiry in 1912 into the ship's sinking, has sold at auction in England for an extraordinary GBP220,000 (AU$340,000.)

It was bought on behalf of a private collector who did not wish to be identified, and far exceeded the GBP100,000-150,000 it had been expected to fetch.

The plan was drawn-up by architects of the White Star Line – owners of the Titanic – at the request of the British Board of Trade that conducted a 36-day enquiry into the sinking.

It was initially drawn in Indian ink on paper, and this was then glued to a 10-metre long piece of linen that was in turn mounted on a wooden frame and hung from the ceiling of the Enquiry Room.

The detailed plan identified everything from cargo areas to food stores, First Class Cabins and Dining areas above those for 2nd and 3rd Class passengers that were in the bowels of the ship, boiler rooms, motor-car storage areas,  tunnels that carried water and electrical connections and watertight doorways.

Survivors used green, blue and red chalk – which can still be seen on the plan today – to show where they were and how they escaped after the "unsinkable" Titanic struck an iceberg and went to the ocean floor.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said the plan was "one of the most important pieces of Titanic memorabilia ever sold… and this price reflects it."

It had been returned to the White Star Line after the enquiry, he said, and eventually gone into private hands, never being shown publicly before last weekend's auction.

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