The Maritime Museum in Falmouth has commissioned the build of a full-size reconstruction of Lifeboat 13 for its major new exhibition, Titanic Stories, which will examine the stories arising from the Titanic’s sinking, re-appraising many of the myths that still linger around one of the most tragic events of the 20th century.

The exhibition will open on March 8 and will present rare and never-seen-before objects and items. It will tell some of the personal stories of the survivors and victims of the Titanic disaster, including some from Cornwall, and will have a focus on how and why the Titanic is remembered.

Lifeboat 13 is currently being built by a local boat builder supported by museum staff and volunteers in Falmouth. The build is on public display and visitors can see the team in action when visiting the museum.

Richard Doughty, director of National Maritime Museum Cornwall, said: “The National Maritime Museum Cornwall is known for its collection of small boats, so why are we telling a story about what was in 1912 the world's largest ship? It's because everything we know, or think we know, comes from the 706 people who left the ship in the lifeboats. Titanic Stories is a small boat story.”

Guest co-curator of the exhibition, Dr Eric Kentley, added: “The Titanic carried 14 lifeboats of the type the museum is reconstructing. We chose the number 13 partly because there’s a very good account written of what happened in the boat and how it nearly came to grief – by the English schoolmaster Lawrence Beesley. But Boat 13 also helps us examine some of the Titanic myths, such as ‘women and children first.’ Looking at who was in the boat we begin to see a more complicated picture.”

The lifeboat is currently being built in the museum’s boat building workshop, situated towards the back of the museum. Visitors are invited to take a closer look at the team in action, and the team are ready to answer questions and show people around the build.

The in-house build is part of a programme of reconstructions of historical craft in the museum’s boatbuilding workshop, which is managed by boat collections manager, Andy Wyke, and workshop manager, Mike Selwood. The build is being led by professional local boat builder Andrew Nancarrow, supported by advanced apprentice in boat conservation, Reuben Thompson, and a small team of museum volunteers and students from Falmouth Marine School.

The team has carried out extensive research to ensure the boat is as faithful a reconstruction as possible. This boat is one of a number of built in the boat building workshop and something the museum is keen to do more of.

Mike Selwood said: "Our ambition is to develop a respected centre for restoration, conservation and repair of historical vessels. And we’re slowly building up that resource. Our core responsibility is the maintenance and care of the nations small boat collection, but alongside that we’re developing a reputation for keeping alive traditional boatbuilding skills."

Andy Nancarrow added: "This project is important because it brings history alive. The research process gives better understanding into the past and develops a deeper understanding of the subject. During the actual build, we become a living exhibit. Visitors like to come back and see the weekly progress, and they are able to come into the workshop and chat with the team as we work, asking us questions.

"Schools and younger children also get involved. They ask some great questions, and it really brings the subject to life for them."

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