Artefacts & Donations
Titanic Foundation have a small collection of artefacts relating to the RMS Titanic, SS Nomadic and the Harland & Wolff Shipyard.
Titanic Foundation and Titanic Belfast have developed an Artefacts policy that looks at the collection, conservation and display of artefacts within the Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic visitor attractions, and Titanic Hotel Belfast. When considering a new item for display, they carefully look at the item’s provenance and authenticity, and how it helps to tell the story of Harland & Wolff, RMS Titanic, SS Nomadic and Belfast’s maritime and industrial heritage.
The artefacts on display in Titanic Belfast include:
- The original signed deed of partnership agreement between Edward Harland, Gustav Wolff, William Pirrie, Walter Wilson and Alexander Wilson, dated December 1874. The Harland & Wolff partnership was twenty years old by then and as it expanded, recognised the input of Pirrie as chief draughtsman, and the Wilson brothers, Walter as yard manager and Alexander who was in charge of engine design and installation, by making them partners.
- Original Displacement Plans for “Olympic” and “Titanic,” ships 400 and 401 (1908). A displacement plan indicates the amount of water that a vessel displaces, which is expressed in displacement tons. Titanic displaced approx. 52,310 tons. This plan would have been drawn up a few metres away in the Drawing Offices by Harland & Wolff’s draughtsmen.
- Harland & Wolff Launch notebook. This unique piece of history details every launch from Ship No 1 to Ship No 1533.
- The Board of Trade Plan. Once the most expensive Titanic artefact sold at auction, the plan is 33foot wide, and was prepared by the White Star line’s Naval Architects for the inquiry into the loss of Titanic.
- Time Recording machine. Once sited at the Drawing Offices building, this machine recorded overtime hours for any workers at the weekend.
- The Dr Simpson letter. The last letter written by Dr Simpson on board RMS Titanic and posted just before he set sail from Cobh in 1912. Dr Simpson was the Titanic’s surgeon on board Titanic and died when the ship sank.
The SS Nomadic also contains some interesting artefacts, many of which relate to its years of service in Cherbourg Harbour, France.
- Postcards of Nomadic at work in Cherbourg alongside the other tender to Titanic, SS Traffic.
- A rare image of the Abercorn basin, with the Caisson Gate clearly visible. The oldest remaining Harland & Wolff hull, the Caisson Gate is on display beside SS Nomadic.
- An original photograph of one of Titanic’s lifeboats approaching the Carpathia during the rescue of survivors.
Through community engagement, Titanic Foundation also have a small collection of documents and artefacts relating to the shipyard, including personal items and tools from former Drawing Office employees which have been displayed in the heritage rooms and drawing offices of Titanic Hotel Belfast.
The Foundation also has a growing collection of tools that have been donated by family members of former H&W employees:
- Victoria Works Theodolite – an artefact from the shipyard, the Theodolite has its original ruler that measures more than 10 feet and would have been used to calculate the angles on many of H&W’s ships.
- Tools from a Shipwright, a Caulker, a Welder and a Draughtsman.
If you have material which you would like to donate to the collection, please contact us. We always welcome the opportunity to acquire artefacts that people would like to loan or donate for free, but it is unlikely we will purchase an artefact unless we feel it can be used to enhance the Titanic story when the galleries in Titanic Belfast or SS Nomadic are being refreshed. At present however the galleries are up to date, and there is no gallery refreshment programme in place.
To donate or lend an item please complete this Artefacts Enquiry Form.
If you would like to sell your item, you could contact auctioneers such as Ross’s Auctions or the Titanic specialists Aldridge’s & Sons to discuss valuing and authenticating your item. Titanic Foundation is not able to provide that service.
You could also contact the National Museum of Northern Ireland as they may be able to offer assistance and guidance in relation to artefacts. They have a vast collection of Titanic artefacts and documents, many of which are on display in their Titanica exhibition in Cultra.
The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland contains an archive of thousands of documents from Harland & Wolff from 1861-1987. Ranging from minute books, which we’ve referred to when scouring for information on the Drawing Offices, to personnel records, cash books, press releases and photographs, there are approx. 16,000 documents stored in PRONI.