The “Tintanic” is an 8m-long, 1.8m-tall, one-ton model of the doomed ship that sank in the North Atlantic in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.
Its builder, historian and Titanic enthusiast Gino Hart, has installed it in the design centre of his old school, Hoërskool Villiers, where it awaits its debut at a “Titanic fancy dress dinner” he is hosting on June 2.
The journey of its making is as compelling as the tale of the ship itself.
Hart first dreamt of modelling it as a 14-year-old schoolboy after watching James Cameron’s blockbuster, Titanic, in 1997.
“From that moment, I was consumed by the Titanic and everything to do with her. I’ve collected dozens of books and a lot of Titanic memorabilia over the years,” says Hart.
The “Tintanic” was built in sections, and has been filmed for a documentary. It is an exact, scaled-down replica – except for the width and shape of the bridge windows (which were square), to avoid copyright issues.
“It took six months to drill the portholes and design the cabins.” The Tintanic has 1 000 individual window frames, and 4 000 doors, that Hart designed and created with resin and laser technology.
He has now embarked on the next phase of the project, furnishing and populating the interiors with no less than 1 523 resin figurines, including the famous crew members, that he’s making himself in his workshop adjoining his model in the design centre.
Hart has also collected hundreds of Coca-Cola bottles to make the windows and mirrors. “The interiors will be installed over five years.”
The million-dollar question is, of course, how did Hart move the Tintanic from his lounge to its new home?
“It was moved in three sections, on a flat-bed trailer. My house is only a few blocks away, but it took seven hours,” says Hart, adding that on its way out of his lounge, the stern suffered damage.
“It is rounded, so it was difficult to move this section. It wouldn’t fit through the door.”
Now that the Tintanic is in its new home, Hart’s activities have been a secret to all but the principal and teaching staff, as the windows of the Tintanic have been blacked out to protect the model from sun damage. “The children are very curious about what’s happening inside here.”
He is hoping once his beloved Tintanic is launched as an attraction, it will ignite some tourism interest in the small town, which is regarded as midway between Johannesburg and Durban.