The SS Nomadic ship restoration project moved a step closer to gaining £2.65 million of Heritage Lottery funding this week.
Nomadic is the last surviving White Star vessel in the world, and the only remaining link to RMS Titanic.
The body set up to restore her, the Nomadic Charitable Trust (NCT) aims to create a heritage experience including a museum which will host talks and exhibitions in conjunction with the Ulster People's College.
On Monday, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a first-round pass of £2.65million to NCT plans to restore the ship and Hamilton Graving Dock. It is now in the final round of the process.
Head of HLF Northern Ireland, Paul Mullan, said: “This is fantastic news for Northern Ireland. In a hugely competitive funding environment, the heritage merit of this project shines through.
“As one of the great industrial cities of the 19th and 20th centuries, Belfast has a rich industrial and maritime heritage, and as the city that built the world's most famous liner, a unique claim to the Titanic story. The SS Nomadic and Hamilton Graving Dock are key links in that story and this project has the potential to play a significant part in the centenary commemorations of the sinking of the Titanic in 2012. “
Denis Rooney, chairman of NCT, said: “We are confident that we will be able to deliver a project which will reward their trust in us and will be something which the will make everyone proud.”
Alex Attwood MLA, Social Development Minister said this was a welcome boost that would help the Trust present the vessel and the Dock as an “authentic picture of Belfast in 1911”.
East Belfast MP Naomi Long said: “Projects like the restoration of the Nomadic have massive potential in terms of attracting tourists here and I am very pleased that they are a step closer to gaining funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The SS Nomadic was launched on 25th April 1911, and is the tender ship that ferried passengers from Cherbourg to the Titanic on her fateful voyage.
Meanwhile, the author of the book, 101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic...But Didn't has moved to scupper the latest rumours that Titanic sank due to a miscommunication of steering orders.
Tim Maltin says it couldn’t have happened, not least because such a basic error would have been spotted immediately and could have been corrected in any case.