Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Titanic’s forgotten artisans

They were a group of young Belfast men who built, sailed on and lost their lives on the Titanic and their story has never been told — until now.

In the week leading up to the ship's tragic maiden voyage The Guarantee Boys — so-called because some of their number were the most skilled workers at the Belfast shipyard — were selected by designer Thomas Andrews to sail on that ill-fated journey to New York.

All nine, including Andrews, died when the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, and none of their bodies were ever recovered.

Now their story is to be bought to life by Belfast playwright Martin Lynch. And he is appealing to the direct descendants of the men to help him pen his latest project, The Guarantee Boys.

Martin explained: “Belfast City Council approached myself and Francis McPeake to write a play about the Titanic to mark the centenary celebrations next year.

“At first I declined because I thought the story had been told so many times, but then I said I would do it if I could find a significant new storyline that had strong connections with Belfast.

“I discovered there was a group of men chosen by the ship's designer Thomas Andrews to sail on that journey. All lost their lives. To be honest, I'd never heard of them before, but now that I've started writing a play about them I'm keen to find out more.”

The play will centre on four young apprentices and four older men, whose job it is to deal with any problems on the maiden trip.

Martin said: “I would really like to hear from anyone descended from these men or who can remember any stories about them.

“The legendary myth of the Titanic has taken over, but these men have a real story and it's one that I want to tell.”

Anyone with information on the Guarantee Boys is asked to contact GBL Productions on 02890 315337.

Factfile

The eight Guarantee Boys were: Alfred Fleming Cunningham (21), Belfast; William Henry Campbell (21),Earl Street, Belfast; Roderick Robert Chisholm(40), Belfast; Anthony Frost (37), Belfast; Robert J Knight (39), Belfast; Francis Parkes (18), Agincourt Street, Belfast; William Henry Marsh Parr (29), Belfast; and Ennis Hastings Watson (18), Belfast

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