PLANS to create a replica of the Titanic have encountered some scepticism.
Some of those intimately familiar with the history of the original ship have queried how authentic the recreation would really be, and even the wisdom of trying to do it at all. They were responding to the announcement, reported yesterday, that billionaire Australian businessman Clive Palmer has unveiled blueprints for his Titanic II project, which has been in the pipeline since at least spring 2012.
At the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, he announced that work was due to start soon in China, adding that
40,000 people had already expressed interest in tickets for the maiden voyage, which would follow the original course from Southampton to New York.
Una Reilly, co-founder of the Belfast Titanic Society, whose great-grandfather was a cabinet-maker for the historic ship, said: “What I believe is there was only ever one Titanic and we should leave it at that. I think there’s such a story attached to her and what happened to her is something we’ll never forget about.
“And to just associate her now with normal cruising around the world I don’t think is appropriate.
“I have always believed – let Titanic rest where she is on the seabed. Let’s talk about her story and whatever – but I feel we shouldn’t try to recreate it.”
Not only that, but she said such a recreation might be a “disappointment” from a practical point of view, since many modern cruise ships have since surpassed her in size.
“I think Belfast has taken the Titanic story and treated it with the pride and respect it deserves. And I’m delighted with how Belfast now sits in that Titanic story.
“We’re respecting the dead – we’ve got a world-class memorial where all of the victims are finally named.”
Asked if she believes the current project will prove tasteless, the 63-year-old retired teacher from Bangor said: “There’s always that danger.”
However, she has been hearing about such plans for around a decade, and said: “I’ll believe it when I see it sailing up the lough – I’ve heard this story before.”
Colin Cobb, a 40-year-old entrepreneur from Four Winds who manages Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House, was tasked with showing movie director James Cameron around the gigantic dry-dock site where she was built when he visited in September.
He had been reading about Mr Palmer’s Titanic II project, and said he didn’t “want to knock it”.
But he questioned just how it would work in practice.
“What do I think of Titanic II? It’s a funny one isn’t it? First of all, it does prove the fascination with Titanic is still there 15 or 16 years after James Cameron’s movie.
“My concern would be of course: what’s it going to look like?
“It has to look like Titanic. It can’t just be, you know, ‘it’s got four funnels and that will do’. So did the Lusitania and Mauretania.
“You don’t want it going down like the first one – you do need modern stuff.
“But you do want it as close to the first one as possible.”
He said there was another concern too: whether anybody other than the super-rich would be able to “set one foot on it”.
He said: “If there is a ‘third class’ section on it, third class prices need to reflect a working class man’s income today as it did then.”