Meet Macarthur’s foremost Titanic expert

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in Macarthur who knows more about the Titanic than Michael Booth.

The Harrington Park resident has spent a lifetime gathering knowledge and artifacts about the famous ship, which sank in the Atlantic in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

His fervour for the sunken ship has seen him deliver talks, host dinners and most recently play the part of the doomed Captain Smith in two special events.

He donned his specially-made coat first for Beyond Cinema: The Titanic Experience on Sydney Harbour and then again for Titanic: The Exhibition.

Mr Booth said it was his coat that impressed organisers.

“I don’t think I would have got the role without it,” he said.

The coat was purchased in Belfast – where the Titanic was made – with shoulder and sleeve elements ordered from India and buttons, each costing $20, bought from the American company which originally made the buttons for the Titanic crew.

Mr Booth’s fascination with the great ship began when he was a child, hearing stories of his grandfather setting foot on the vessel.

“My grandfather was born in Belfast and at the age of seven he stood on the deck of the Titanic,” he said.

“His father was in the D’Oyly Carte, which was a famous opera company, so he was well-known and that’s how he got my grandfather on the ship as it went down the slipway.

“The unfortunate thing was he passed away in 1984, just before Robert Ballard found the Titanic in 1985. It was a damn shame he just missed it.”

Mr Booth grew up devouring information about the Titanic and has watched a great many of the films and documentaries made about the ship.

He has also collected plenty of memorabilia, including trinkets that were found on the sunken ship.

“I love doing my talks,” he said.

“I love the experience of sharing things that so many people don’t know.

“For instance, there were 465 empty seats in the lifeboats – most people don’t know that.

“I could talk for hours just about the furnishings or what was served in the restaurant.”

Mr Booth has also held two themed dinners at Camden Civic Centre, where guests dressed up in 1910s clothing and were served the same food that was eaten on the ship.

They were given boarding passes and later learnt if they were one of the survivors or the victims of the disaster.

He is hoping to be called upon to act as Mr Smith again when Titanic: The Exhibition is shown in Shanghai.


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