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News Stories

March 2009 Press Releases

Titanic Sea City Museum plans gather steam

Plans to create a unique Sea City Museum which will tell Southampton’s Titanic story have moved a step closer.

As part of Southampton City Council’s ambitious plans, the old magistrate courts and police head quarters located at Southampton City Council’s Civic Centre, would be converted into a £28 million centre which will showcase the city’s heritage and archaeology collections.

The plans were given a boost today (Monday) after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced that the scheme has been given just under half a million pounds in development funding. The HLF also gave the project a first round pass - which gives the go ahead for the council to carry out further work on proposals.

The main focus of the first phase of the works will look at Southampton’s Titanic story, when in 1912 the great vessel left Southampton Docks on what was its maiden and final voyage.

As part of the £15 million phase one of the works, which the council hopes will be completed by 2012, the main exhibition hall would be turned into a scene of the dockside in Southampton with the Titanic about to depart. This could feature a unique scaled down replica of the Titanic. Visitors would become ‘crew members’ reporting for duty. They would adopt the identity of one of the six original crew members and follow their story throughout the exhibition, from climbing the gang plank to post-disaster enquiry. The story of the ship`s crew has been largely untold outside of the city.

Extensive use would be made of personal objects, documents, photographs and oral history testimony from Titanic collections with about 4,000 items set to be displayed within galleries.

Councillor John Hannides, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Heritage, said: “This museum will be of international significance and could attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Arguably, this could be the most significant landmark project in the city for a generation."

“Southampton was the home of the Titanic so it is only fitting that we tell our story.

“When the ship tragically sank 549 Southampton people lost their lives and hundreds of families in the city were directly affected. The impact was felt right across the world, but nowhere more so than in Southampton.

“We now need to do all we can to see how we can raise the funds to make this happen.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced that the council has secured a first round pass and development funding of £499,900 which will go towards a potential application for £4.5million. If eventually successful in securing the £4.5 million, the council would use the money to help pay for the first phase of works.

However the council will still need to find a further £10 million to fund the first phase of works and is currently talking with funding partners to see if it can raise the money.

The current old magistrates courts and police building, a grade two star listing building, is owned by the city council and will soon be without purpose as the Magistrates Courts relocated in 2002 and the police set to soon move into a new purpose built venue.

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