Belfast exhibition visitors can feast their eyes on new piece of Titanic memorabilia

Judith Owens of Titanic Belfast with the menu's owner, Rupert Hunt.
Judith Owens of Titanic Belfast with the menu's owner, Rupert Hunt.

A rare first class luncheon menu that survived the RMS Titanic disaster will go on display at a visitor centre in Belfast on Tuesday.

Ownership of the artefact was secured at an English auction during last year’s centenary of the ship’s sinking.

The list of dishes from April 14 1912 represents the final first class luncheon served onboard and featured 40 options, including grilled mutton chops, gorgonzola cheese or corned ox tongue.

Purchaser Rupert Hunt said: “My friends and family thought I was crazy when I bought the Titanic luncheon menu at auction. While my heart ruled my head, I believe it could be safer than many other alternative investments because interest in Titanic is unlikely to wane.

“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the menu this past year and now want other Titanic enthusiasts to enjoy it and where better to view it than the magnificent Titanic Belfast exhibition?”

The menu survived the disaster, which claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people, in a purse belonging to passenger Ruth Dodge, wife of Dr Washington Dodge. On its reverse is a hand-written note from a ship steward who knew the family conveying his best wishes.

The crewman, Frederick Dent Ray, took charge of a lifeboat filled with children and encouraged Dr Dodge into the craft to help distressed young people.

Mrs Dodge and her son were rescued by the Carpathia and transported to New York.

The menu will be viewed at Titanic Belfast, a visitor’s centre overlooking the docks where the vessel was built.

Ownership was secured by Mr Hunt as a company investment but he said he wanted visitors to see it. It will join other Titanic artefacts such as the Titanic Inquiry Plan, a letter from the ship’s surgeon Dr John Simpson to his mother and Harland and Wolff shipyard ship launch and salary notebooks.

Judith Owens, deputy chief executive at Titanic Belfast, said: “The gesture by and Mr Hunt is extremely kind, and it will give hundreds of thousands of visitors a chance to see it up close.

“It gives us a great insight and feel for the Edwardian-style grandeur experienced in the fine dining surrounds of the first-class suites on RMS Titanic.”