Belfast has a huge heritage in the ship building trade. The most famous ship in history, ”The Titanic” was actually built here at the Harland and Wolff shipyard, once the world’s largest shipyard. So if you’re headed to Belfast you might want to learn a thing or two about the legendary passenger liner that sank on her maiden voyage.
History of the Titanic…
In 1907 the shipping firm White Star Line commissioned Harland and Wolff, the Belfast Shipbuilding Company, to construct three superb steam liners that would hit new heights in terms of passenger safety, comfort and style.
Lord James Pirrie, as a partner in Harland and Wolff, was one of the main designers along with White Star Line’s managing director J.Bruce Ismay. The first two to be commissioned were the Olympic and the Titanic, and the name of the latter was to accentuate its impressive size and the luxury facilities and features in would incorporate.
The construction of the Titanic began in Belfast in March 1909. Due to the large-scale project, the shipyards of Harland and Wolff had to be re-designed to facilitate the project, and the pier of the White Star Company in New York had to be increased in size to accommodate the ship’s arrival in port!
It took over two years in Belfast for the hull to be finished. A huge media interest made the ship a household name before it even touched water. The ship cost approximately 7.5 million dollars to complete, and it was over 880 feet in length and weighed nearly 50,000 tonnes!
At the time it was the largest passenger steamship in the world. The ship set sail from Southampton, England on the 10th of April 1912. It was its maiden voyage, and even further to cement the ship in its Irish heritage, its final stop was at Cobh (formerly Queenstown, Co. Cork) where it picked up its final passengers.
We are all aware of the story afterwards – shortly before midnight on the night of April 14th, the ship struck an iceberg in the freezing North Atlantic. In less than 3 hours she tragically sank to the ocean floor, with the loss of over 1,500 lives.
While you’re in Belfast why not enjoy the unique experience of a Titanic tour? Check out our guide to the Top 5 Titanic Tours of Belfast.
The Future of the Titanic Quarter…
In recent years there has been a whole regeneration of the Titanic Quarter, and it’s predicted that the area will be officially launched for the 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the liner. Known as the Titanic Signature Project, it’s being developed by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board
The proposed Titanic memorial attraction is going to be located at the Titanic Slipways, where the ship was built, near to the headquarters and architect drawing rooms of Harland and Wolff.
Features will include an interactive museum and exhibition relating to the construction and history of the ill-fated liner. It’s planned that visitors to the exhibition will be transported back in time to and will be able to view ”the making of the ship” as well as take a trip underwater to see the shipwreck as part of a cinematic interactive experience!
If all this goes according to plan it will be a true testimony to Belfast’s Titanic Heritage.
If you need somewhere to stay in Belfast take a look at our Belfast hotels page.