Historic moment as Nomadic flies flag
Published 17/07/2006 | 15:46
Fans of the SS Nomadic will dress up in period costume to welcome her as she makes a triumphant return to Belfast's docks this evening.
The historic ship has already been sighted off the shores of Bangor as it arrived ahead of schedule on Saturday morning but it will not return to Belfast until this evening.
As the Titanic's ‘little sister' proceeds up the Lagan to dock next to the Odyssey Arena later today, she will receive a rousing chorus from a brass band as supporters dressed in Edwardian fashions cheer her home.
Sir Andrew Duff-Gordon is one of the VIPs in Belfast today to hail Nomadic's return to the city where she was built.
The honorary president of the newly-formed Nomadic Preservation Society is the great-nephew of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, who travelled on Nomadic with his wife Lucile as they boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg on April 10, 1912.
Both were saved from the sinking ship after she foundered on an iceberg.
Present at the docks this evening will be members of the French Titanic Society (AFT) who worked closely with Belfast Industrial Heritage in the hard-fought campaign to save Nomadic from the scrapyard.
The 95-year-old vessel was bought by the Department of Social Development in January at auction in Paris.
Nomadic, built alongside the Titanic by the same Harland & Wolff craftsmen, will be accompanied up Belfast Lough this afternoon by a flotilla of motor boats and sailing ships from the many marinas lining the lough.
Her rescue followed an intensive campaign by the Belfast Telegraph to bring her home.
Nomadic left Le Havre in northern France five days ago, piggybacked on a submersible barge owned by Anchor Marine Transportation (AMT).
AMT says she remains watertight despite years lying in docks and a 30-year stint as a floating restaurant in Paris, according to David Scott-Beddard of the Nomadic Preservation Trust.
As Nomadic left French waters, her stern displayed the White Star Line burgee (flag) flown in her early years as she served Titanic and sister liner Olympic — the first time a White Star Line vessel has flown the flag independently since the company was taken over by Cunard 70 years ago.
"We are overjoyed to have her back here," David said.
"It's a proud and poignant occasion which marks the start of a long road to capture her former glory and celebrate Belfast's industrial heritage."