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An Afternoon To Remember

PUBLISHED: 15:17 18 September 2012

An exhibition aabout Titanic is held at the Forncett Steam Museum by Norfolk Titanic Association.
Robin Burrows with his model of the Titanic which he built by hand.

An exhibition aabout Titanic is held at the Forncett Steam Museum by Norfolk Titanic Association. Robin Burrows with his model of the Titanic which he built by hand.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

The Regal Experience returns for a new season of classic film shows in Wymondham

A leading expert on the sinking of the Titanic, former teacher John Balls, will be a guest speaker at a special film show in Wymondham on Sunday.

John’s book on the Norfolk survivors was republished earlier this year to mark the centenary of the disaster and the Regal Experience Group opens its new season of screenings with a showing of, A Night to Remember, with Kenneth More.

John, who was the head of English at Thorpe St Andrew School, has written two books on the subject and is a member of the Titanic Historical Society.

He will be joined on stage by a gigantic model of the Titanic, built by Robin Burrows, which has been exhibited nationally and locally.

The 1958 film tells the story through the recollection of survivors and while Kenneth More is the main star, there are a handful of cameo appearances, notably from Honor Blackman and David McCallum.

Appearing at a press preview of the film in Norwich of July 1958, where it was being screened at the Carlton and Odeon, was Miss Violet Jessop of Great Ashfield in Suffolk, who had been a stewardness on the ill-fated liner.

The makers of the film wanted her story and she spoke about how authentic the film was when she was in Norwich.

But it was John Balls who came up with the idea of finding out which passengers came from Norfolk and what happened to them.

“One of the most interesting aspects of the Titanic story is the way it brought together the rich and the famous on one hand and ordinary people on the other, all faced with the same desperate predicament,” he said.

“Millionaires and steerage passengers perished at the same time, and important and unknown passengers found themselves in the same lifeboat. This fascinating scenario is well illustrated by the stories of the five people from Norfolk who survived that night, each of them linked in some way with others who have played a much more prominent part in the Titanic story,” added John.

Considering more than 1,500 people on board died, it is a remarkable story of survival against all the odds.

On board from Norfolk were:

➔ Ted and Ethel Beane, a pair of Norwich newlyweds looking for a new life in America.

➔ Frank Prentice, a crew member from Downham Market.

➔ Ellen Bird of Old Buckenham. She was a maid to one of Titanic most famous victims, Ida Strauss, wife of millionaire New York department store owner Isidor Strauss.

➔ May Howard, a domestic servant from North Walsham, on her way to join her brothers in Toronto. She escaped in a lifeboat which she shared with probably the most influential passenger on board – J Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line, of which Titanic was part.

A Night To Remember is showing at the Wymondham Ex-Services Club (Regal Cinema) on Sunday, September 23 at 2.30pm. For tickets, call Maureen Dodman on 01953 605593, Michael Armstrong on 01953 603246 or go to Simply Cards, Market Street, Wymondham. They cost £5 (£4 concessions).

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