How Titanic suitcase made its way back home

Iain Jay with the suitcase
Iain Jay with the suitcase

A TOWN man believes he has his own piced of authentic Titanic memorabilia.

Professional mind reader and mentalist Iain Jay owns a suitcase said to have been used by an apprentice on board the doomed vessel.

Iain, who lives on the Fens estate, Hartlepool, takes up the tragic story of Ennis Hastings Watson.

He said: “Ennis was one of the electrical apprentices when the Titanic set off from Belfast to Southampton.

“He had borrowed this suitcase from his sister, Adeline, because he could not afford his own as he was only 14 or 15.

“The idea was that he would send it back to his sister when the Titanic docked at Queenstown, in southern Ireland, before heading to New York.

“He would then use his wages to buy another suitcase once he was in America.

“Sadly he was one of the casualties and never made it back although the suitcase did.

“It is a poignant tale and reflects a lot of the forgotten tragedies.

“Many people talk about the great and the good who were on board while forgetting about the ordinary and young people who also died.”

Iain, 46, admits he has no conclusive proof that the suitcase is genuinely from the Titanic.

He added: “You would need to have written letters of testimony from relatives for verification and that is why the price I paid was less than what it would have been otherwise.

“I don’t want to say how much it cost but it was a not inconsiderable amount.

“I believe the person I dealt with and my own research certainly checked out as far as possible.

“The initials on it match and the White Star luggage labels are still stuck on.”

Iain, a former RAF intelligence officer, teacher and social worker, was going to use the suitcase as part of a Titanic-themed evening at Hartlepool Maritime Experience this Saturday.

Attractions would have included period music, a seven-course meal based on the ship’s final menu, a fire eating display and seance.

Unfortunately the event, which would have raised funds for the Hartlepool branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales.

Unmarried Iain, who is originally from York, has performed at Durham’s Gala Threatre and Stockton’s Arc and intends to resurrect part of the planned show.

He said: “I am booked for a series of shows at the Staincliffe and will use part of the Titanic act there.

“It is an enduring story and one which will still be popular in another 100 years.”

•ANYONE wishing to support the RNLI can contact the town’s branch on (01429) 266103.