Titanic gift to Belfast takes a bow
A replica 30 foot section of the bow of the famous 'unsinkable' ship has been unveiled beside the berthing dock where the Titanic was built in Belfast almost a century ago.
The bow has been recreated for a forthcoming Channel 4 and National Geographic TV series called “We Built Titanic” due to air this autumn.
But last night it was presented as a “gift to Belfast” as a permanent sculpture which will attract tourists and Titanic enthusiasts alike.
Fireworks exploded and the famous red and white flag of the White Star liner was raised once again as the giant steel structure was presented to a gathering of 200 in the Northern Ireland Science Park on Queen’s Island.
The team of engineers rebuilt the bow section using both modern and Edwardian techniques to get a sense of the skill and innovation of ship-building at the time.
Addressing the audience at the launch, engineer Brendan Walker said: “We have been marvelling at the physical strength, speed and technique of the people that built this ship. We all know the tragedy and loss of that night in April 1912 but we are here to leave a tribute to the people who built Titanic — those fine engineers. And, as we all know, the ship was fine when it left Belfast.”
Two young Belfast men, whose relatives worked in the shipyard, helped with the reconstruction.
Graham Bowden (26) and Gary Dowie (22) teach joinery skills to young people as part of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust on the Donegall Road. They were interviewed for the programme to discuss the difficulties of getting apprenticeships today and ended up helping the engineers with the work.
Showing off the blisters on his hands, Gary said: “We normally work with wood so we threw ourselves in at the deep end. My grandfather worked in the shipyard for 47 years as a plumber, until he was laid off in 2000 and my granny’s father worked in the engine rooms.”
Among the audience last night was Stephen McKnight, whose great, great uncle Artie Frost was a foreman fitter who perished on Titanic’s maiden voyage. “I think the reconstruction is really good and gives you a sense of the size of the ship,” he said.