Editor's Viewpoint: Let's make most of our maritime history
Published 02/04/2011 | 08:00
The Titanic 100 Photographic Exhibition at Belfast City Hall, which was launched this week, is a timely reminder of one of the most famous vessels in history.
This has been an historic period in the city's maritime story, with the centenary yesterday of the opening of the Thompson Dock, and the anniversary on Thursday of the Titanic's keel-laying in 1909.
The Thompson Dock was opened on 1 April, 1911 by the Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic, and it marked one of the most important milestones in the history of the port.
If it had not been for the vision of the Harbour Commissioners in committing themselves eight years earlier to building the massive Thompson Dock, it is doubtful if the Olympic, the Titanic or other large vessels could have been fitted out in Belfast. The Thompson Dock and Pump-House, which are important tourist attractions, represented the best in world technology in their time, and they are now part of the Titanic Heritage, as Belfast gears up for the major anniversary next year.
The Titanic's tragic end was due to a number of complex factors, but there is no doubt that when she left Belfast she was a tribute to the excellence of our local shipbuilders.
The ambitious Titanic Project is steadily reaching its completion, despite fears that there might be a time lapse. However, assurances have been given that everything will be ready for the anniversary in April 1912.
For many years Belfast and its people turned their backs on the Titanic because of the scale of the loss in a century which also experienced two world wars and immense suffering through economic depression and political upheavals.
The achievement of those who planned and built the Titanic and her sister ships is now being given its rightful recognition.
It is important, therefore, that everything must be done by the tourist authorities, the Stormont Executive and all those involved in the Titanic Project to make sure that the many tourists who will flock to our shores will also be impressed by the skill and magnificence of Belfast's maritime history.