The brothers who built Titanic Belfast’s showpiece staircase would like it opened to the public — heaping yet more pressure on the building’s management.
Pius Diamond (52), who built the staircase with his brothers Sean and Francis, said he would like everyone who visits the city’s landmark building to see the hand-carved replica of the staircase, made famous by James Cameron’s film Titanic.
The staircase, which winds through the building’s Titanic Suite, is only open to people who attend tea parties, dinners or functions in the banqueting hall.
The policy has been a source of contention among visitors to the building since it opened last month, prompting critics to draw comparisons with the three-tiered class system which prevailed aboard Titanic.
The Diamond brothers and three other joiners spent six months between August last year and March building the staircase in the Bellaghy studio of Oldtown Joinery.
It took around 1,500 man-hours to finish the four-tonne staircase, which is 23ft high and 24ft in width. It was moulded from red oak — the same material used to build Titanic’s grand staircase — which was specially imported from North America for the project. Pius said it was one of the most interesting projects he has worked on. “I would like it to be open to all. I would like the public to see it as much as possible,” he said, adding:
“We appreciate how the management (of Belfast Titanic) are dealing with the problem and we have to leave it to their better judgment.”
Meanwhile, Downton Abbey actor Thomas Howes has described his disappointment at missing out on the staircase on a recent visit.
Howes, who plays footman William Mason, is in Belfast to star in Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commission’s Inquiry 1912) which opens in the Mac Theatre on April 22.
The actor and the rest of the cast visited Titanic Belfast to research their roles.
“No, I didn’t get to see the staircase — sure you’re not allowed to see it.
“It seems silly not to let the public in to see it,” he said. “It’s a shame that it isn’t open to all.”
Pop stars Marvin Humes and Rochelle Wiseman were delighted last week when the building stayed open late so they could get their picture taken on the impressive staircase.