Titanic Expo Brussels

So, the good news is that I’m not in a slump anymore, hooray. Not that you knew I was actually in a slump. I didn’t even know I was in a slump. The problem with a slump is that you usually have no idea that you’ve been in one until you start coming out of it.  And I had that realisation on Wednesday.  Luckily there was bloody good company AND burgers available to cushion the blow.

I don’t think a slump can ever be analysed fully, it arrives all on its’ own, drowning you in a feeling of bleurgh and then after a while, it floats off again, leaving the slumpee (not sure if that will take off) trying to put everything back together again.

And after that thrilling little tale, it’s time to move on to something much more interesting – The Titanic!

Prior to 1997 this is what I knew about the Titanic; great big ship, supposed to be unsinkable, hits an iceberg,  ends up on the bottom of the ocean on it’s maiden voyage and tragically loads of people died.

Then of course the movie came out and what I knew about the Titanic got a little blurry, partly because I cry my bloody eyes out everytime I watch the thing and also because although the movie is based on actual events, James Cameron et al used a serious amount of artistic license with the facts.

I realised just how ‘creative’ they were with the truth while I was checking out the new Titanic Exhibition.

Being held at the Brussels Expo – which is a couple of minutes walk from the Atomium, the Titanic Exhibition has been so popular the dates have been extended by an additional two months.  This is partly because the exhibition itself has been built around the 27 Belgians who sailed on the ship, and what happened to them.

The layout in the Expo tells us how, when and why the Titanic was built, and of course by whom, with huge posters and photographs from the Belfast yard where it was put together.  A series of rooms took us through the first, second and third class, then into the engine room, until we found the pieces recovered from the seabed over the last 15 years.  A whole range of things from dinner plates to personal items such as reading glasses and hairbrushes were on display.


It was all rather upsetting, but the item that really shocked me was the base from the angel light at the foot of the grand staircase. Somehow the fact that a piece from the famous photo of the staircase was in front of me, made the whole thing very real, rather  than the made up story of a Hollywood film.  It’s easy to forget that the myth created around it is based on a real ship, that real people lost their lives in a huge disaster that could have been avoided.

The Titanic’s Grand Staircase with the Angel Light Fitting at the base


I was able to see, smell and touch, a wall of ice created to show just how cold the water was – I didn’t realise that salt water freezes below 0 degrees, so the water those poor people where swimming in was literally as cold as ice. No wonder most of the passengers froze to death in a matter of minutes.

Titanic Expo Brussels

It was also interesting to see the things the film just didn’t mention, or embellished.  The expo tells us all about the California, a ship just 20 miles away from the Titanic, which had issued warnings about icebergs earlier on that day and then turned off its’ radio for the night, that wasn’t mentioned at all in the film.

Then there was William McMaster Murdoch, who really was the First Officer on the Titanic; in the film, we see him shoot Tommy and then kill himself, but there is no evidence to suggest that, that’s what actually happened.

The real William Murdoch vs 1997 Movie Version of William Murdoch

The menus, memorabilia and personal stories brought out the real Titanic, not the fake story of Jack and Rose.  The difference between reality and make-believe was laid out in the stories of the people I read about, including one passenger I was given on a card at the start of the tour and encouraged to look for at the end.

Tragically, my chap, Percy Andrew Bailey, just 18 years old and travelling alone on the Titanic from Cornwall to Ohio, for a job as an apprentice butcher,  didn’t survive the sinking.

This is an incredible exhibition and if you’re anywhere near Brussels before 30th November, you should absolutely check it out.

//Find out more on their website

// It is best to book online before you go, to avoid queues

// Make sure you take the audio tour (including in the price), as it is full of extra information