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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Cumbrian man's emotional trip to Titanic company's headquarters

A relative of the Titanic founder Thomas Ismay has fulfilled a lifetime ambition by visiting the company’s old headquarters before it’s turned into a multi-million pound hotel.

Cliff Ismay photo
Cliff Ismay

Cliff Ismay made the emotional trip to Liverpool’s Albion House after he was invited by the building’s new owner Lawrence Kenwright who plans to transform it into a Titanic-themed hotel.

Mr Ismay feared the building, which was once centre of White Star Line’s worldwide operations, would be demolished after standing empty for many years, so he was pleased to hear about its “sympathetic” transformation.

The 57-year-old, from Moorclose in Workington, is the closest relation to Thomas Ismay still carrying the family name, along with his uncle George Ismay.

He told the News & Star that he had always wanted to visit the historic building, which played its part in the tragic story of the Titanic, when the names of the dead were read out to waiting crowds more than 100 years ago.

“Up until now I’ve never had the time or the chance to go down,” he said. “When I heard it was going to be totally refurbished and turned into a hotel I got in touch with Lawrence and he invited me to visit.

“When I went it was very emotional and it felt like I had a connection.”

Mr Ismay is glad that the building is to be given a new “lease of life” as long as it is done with respect, which Mr Kenwright assured him it would be.

He added: “I applaud what Lawrence is doing as it will bring the building back to life. I am fine with his reassurance that the Titanic aspect will be handled tastefully and with respect to those who lost their lives.”

Thomas Ismay was part of the Cumbrian ship-owning fraternity who moved their businesses to Liverpool when their new steamships became too big for Whitehaven Harbour.

“Thomas Henry lived in Maryport which is near to where I live, so being at Albion House in Liverpool makes me feel closer still to my family history,” said Mr Ismay.

Mr Kenwright hopes to open the first phase of the £5.5m 350-bed apartment hotel, called Signature Living – The Home of the Titanic, from next April and Mr Ismay hopes to visit again once the project has been completed.

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