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Key carried by Dundee man might have prevented Titanic from sinking

The key could have potentially prevented the catastrophe, according to an officer at an inquest.
The key could have potentially prevented the catastrophe, according to an officer at an inquest.

A key which could have potentially saved the legendary Titanic from sinking has been sold for £90,000 at auction.

The small iron key — carried by a Dundee-born second officer — is thought to have secured the binoculars for the Titanic’s crow’s nest (the ship’s lookout point) and had been accidentally taken off the ship before it sailed.

In an inquiry after the Titanic sank, one of the lookouts said the binoculars could have prevented it from hitting a giant iceberg, which resulted in the ship sinking and the deaths of 1,517 passengers and crew.

The key was carried by Broughty Ferry-born David Blair, who — in what may have been a catastrophic turn of events — was replaced at the last minute by another second officer and failed to pass it over.

This meant the key never made the Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in April 1912, as it remained inside the pocket of Blair.

Commander David Blair (left) packing scientific instruments for an expedition to the South Pacific

Blair kept the key, passing it on to his daughter Nancy, who in turn donated it to international maritime charity Sailors’ Society in the 1980s.

The society sold it to a Chinese businessman in 2007 — the proceeds from the sale of the key are still helping to fund its education programme.

The Titanic.

Sailors’ Society CEO Stuart Rivers said: “We’re very glad that more than a century on we are able to make so much good come out of such a tragic event.

“The money we raised from the sale has been changing the lives of students around the world by giving them the opportunity of an education.”

Sailors’ Society aims to transform the lives of seafarers and their families at home, in port and at sea through the delivery of chaplaincy, education and the relief of poverty and distress.

The charity’s education programme offers grants and bursaries to help aspiring seafarers achieve careers at sea, and to those from seafaring families who are unable to afford an education.

Current grant recipients include 19-year-old Filipino Mayce Gel, whose father Ronel was on board a vessel that was hijacked by pirates.

He was left traumatised and unable to return to sea, so he could not afford to send Mayce to school until Sailors’ Society intervened with a grant that is now enabling her to go to university.

Mayce said: “It’s like it built my dreams again, because I really wanted to finish school.”

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