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TITANIC : BELFAST BUILT

Welcome to the hometown of the Ship of Dreams

Welcome to Titanic’s hometown: Belfast.

It’s here, unlike anywhere in the world, that Titanic’s soul, story and sorrow are etched not just on the city, but in the history books, too.

Take yourself down to the Edwardian-era Thompson Dry Dock where the past looms large. There’s still a sense of those Belfast trades, those carpenters, fitters, plumbers and apprentices who made Titanic tick. Among them was the Guarantee Group, whose journey went from jubilation to disaster when they perished with the ship.

Within sight of that dock is the vast shimmering shell that is Titanic Belfast. Over one million visitors have passed through its doors since it opened in 2012. Eight galleries – tracing the ship’s story from creation to tragic sinking – tell the entire tale on an awesome scale. Expect gantry rides, an underwater cinema show and stunning cabin recreations.

Join a Titanic tour of the area, and you may visit the old drawing offices, where Titanic was transferred from dreams to paper, or board the White Star Line’s only remaining ship, the SS Nomadic at Hamilton Dock. Built as a tender to the ship of dreams, she is a modest echo of the Edwardian era when the White Star Line was a byword for quality and luxury.

To cut a long story short, Titanic is Belfast and Belfast is Titanic. If you want the whole story, this is the place.

On the trail of Titanic’s footprints in Belfast

Maritime majesty

The SS Nomadic

Meet the one and only White Star Line ship that still remains: the SS Nomadic. Thanks to sterling work and charitable donations, the SS Nomadic, Titanic’s tender ship, has made its way back to Belfast. Restored to its original glory after a lengthy sojourn in Cherbourg (the Nomadic shuttled first- and second-class Titanic passengers to the ship from the French port), this image of White Star Line perfection is now a floating museum charting 100 years of maritime history.

Hidden Gems in Belfast

With Titanic Belfast, the Dry Dock and Pump House, and SS Nomadic commanding so much attention, it’s easy to miss the more subtle Titanic moments in Belfast. Sights such as the Titanic Memorial on a grassy patch at City Hall, or the Titanic Rooms in the grand building itself are just two examples of Titanic attractions that are easy to miss. Titanic’s reach in this city is stunning: even Belfast author C.S. Lewis’s father worked on the ship. Find our more about the Narnia creator at the C.S. Lewis exhibition at Belmont Tower.

The Tours

Does anyone know Titanic’s story more than those who live and breathe its hometown daily? We don't think so. Along with the insight of their ancestors who lived during and, even more importantly after, Titanic’s build, Titanic tour guides in Belfast are unrivalled in their connection to the ship. Titanic Walking Tours and Titanic Tours Belfast run by Susie Millar (great granddaughter of a Titanic engineer who perished with the ship) are just some options.

Eat: Titanic Pub and Kitchen

Sitting discreetly on a side street in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter (the eponymous cathedral, St Anne’s, is just around the corner), the Titanic Pub and Kitchen (2-14, Little Donegall Street, Belfast) takes its Titanic connections seriously. Once occupied by Robert Watson & Co furniture manufacturers (known for creating mattresses and tables for Titanic and her sister ships) the pub’s stylish Edwardian theme isn’t just a coincidence. White Star Line posters and boarding cards add a dash of old-school drama, while the menu is filled with classic fare such as lamb shanks in rosemary gravy, and sirloin steak with chunky fries.

Drink – Robinson’s Saloon

Somewhat in the shadow of the Crown Bar Liquor Saloon next door, Robinson’s (38-40, Great Victoria Street, Belfast) is well deserving of an extended visit, especially for Titanoraks. In fact, so unique is Robinson’s Titanic collection that they invite visitors to take a stroll around the pub moving from piece to piece as if pottering through a museum. Among the stunning array of Titanic prizes are a Titanic steward’s badge, a commemorative jewellery box and Philomena – a doll reputedly rescued from Titanic’s floating wreckage. White Star Line china, a life jacket and an array or original Titanic postcards are similarly moving additions to the collection.

Sleep: Rayanne House

The ‘Multi-Award winning’ tag is perhaps used more than it should be these days. In the case of Rayanne House, though, the shoe fits. Choose your room well here and you could end up with a balcony looking out over the lough where Titanic first sailed. Sitting on the tree-lined quiet of Desmesne Road, Rayanne isn’t just about a bed for the night. In the kitchens here, Chef Conor McClelland has gone to colossal culinary lengths to recreate the original Titanic First Class menu once devoured by the likes of Benjamin Guggenheim and ‘The Un-sinkable’ Molly Brown. Among the nine courses expect Filet Mignon, oysters and Rose Water and Mint Sorbet.

The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

Can’t get enough of Titanic? We, and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum understand. Home not only to a permanent Titanic exhibition (documenting the construction, voyage, and eventual sinking of the ship) the museum digs right under the skin of Belfast’s transport boom. Whizz back to Edwardian Belfast and wander through 170 acres overlooking Belfast Lough, illustrating early 20th-century rural life. Expect farms, crops and even livestock. Chug along to the Great Southern Railways Class 800 locomotive, one of the three largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever to be built and run in Ireland. There is even a model railway operated by the Model Engineers Society of Northern Ireland.

The infamous “Paper Car” is where things get quirky. This ingenious (some say mad) creation is a replica of a Fiat Panda made entirely from old issues of The Belfast Telegraph and The Irish News. A cross community effort, this car was a curiosity that made headlines (in more ways than one) in the 1990s.

Did you know that the pogo stick was invented in Comber, County Down (home of Titanic designer, Thomas Andrews)? Well it was, and you can find an example of this bouncy little invention at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, too.

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