Glenrothes exhibition posts a truly ‘Titanic’ visitor total

ALL ON BOARD: Pictured outside the unit at the reception are (from left) Murray De Klee, Fiona De Klee , Linda Ballingall, Jim Mitchell, Christopher Ward, Leslie historian Bill Feit, Tricia Marwick, Robert Winter Kingdom Centre manager, GAHC's Julie MacDougall, Alistair Leslie, GAHC's David Brown and Pamela Leslie, Alistair Leslie's wife.
ALL ON BOARD: Pictured outside the unit at the reception are (from left) Murray De Klee, Fiona De Klee , Linda Ballingall, Jim Mitchell, Christopher Ward, Leslie historian Bill Feit, Tricia Marwick, Robert Winter Kingdom Centre manager, GAHC's Julie MacDougall, Alistair Leslie, GAHC's David Brown and Pamela Leslie, Alistair Leslie's wife.

THE end of the town’s ‘Titanic’ centenary exhibition has been marked with a special reception, reports MIKE DELANEY.

Organisers, volunteers and guests celebrated the success of the display in the Kingdom centre unit which has hosted the two-month long event.

And Linda Ballingall, chairwoman of Glenrothes and Area Heritage Centre which staged the exhibition revealed that 8000 people had visited it during that run.

The exhibition was organised both to honour the part played by a local noblewoman in the aftermath of the 1912 disaster, and also to continue the momentum provided by the original exhibition which the group staged at the same unit two years ago. It has prompted considerable interest, both at home and abroad, with visitors coming from as far away as Canada and the United States.

It has also been visited by several groups of schoolchildren, many of whom have taken part in a colouring competition, the products of which can be seen in a shop window in the mall. The exhibition featured the first public display of the number eight from the lifeboat in which Noelle, Countess of Rothes, sought refuge after the iconic ship struck an iceberg and sank, the watch which she presented to Able Seaman Jones, who had commanded the boat, and the journal which she wrote while aboard the ‘Carpathia’, which had saved her and other passengers from the freezing waters of the north Atlantic Ocean.

The donations to the exhibition were made by the Countess’ descendants, whose Leslie family trust has forged close links with GAHC organisers. The organisers are now eager to build on the potential for a permanent centre through ongoing discussions with Kingdom Centre management to achieve a permanent venue.

Linda said: “Since April 7, we have welcomed almost 8000 visitors. Those visitors have come from all over Scotland, and our overseas visitors came from the USA, Canada, France, Australia and Northern Ireland.”

She added that the response had shown the “continuing strong support for a heritage centre”, and from sponsors who, like Glenrothes and District Arts Endowment Trust and Fife Council, had provided thousands of pounds in cash, or over £100,000 of ‘in kind’ support from companies ranging from the Kingdom Centre to Tullis Russell.

“What is remarkable is that this wee corner of Fife had a genuine reason to stage an exhibition based on one of the most legendary maritime disasters in history and that one of the World-acclaimed heroines of that terrible night was a Countess who lived in nearby Leslie House.”

She thanked volunteers including David Cooper, co-ordinator Jim Mitchell, Robert Thomson who had been present at every day of the exhibition, and the Countess’ descendants “for trusting us not only with their precious heirlooms, but the story of their much-loved grandmother.”

The guests included Alastair Leslie, the Countess’ grandson and other members of his family and Christopher Ward, whose grandfather was first violinist with the ‘Titanic’ band, together with sponsors and civic dignitaries including Glenrothes MSP Tricia Marwick.