Video: Historic lighthouse optic to light up Belfast's Titanic Quarter
An extremely rare lighthouse lens is now set to light up Belfast’s maritime heritage as the ‘Great Light’, thanks to National Lottery players.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has confirmed an award of £332,000 to restore and interpret the former Mew Island Lighthouse Optic and put it on public display in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.
The optic is the machine which gave Mew Island Lighthouse its traditional revolving light. It is the world’s first and largest hyper-radial Fresnel lighthouse lens, first installed in Tory Island Lighthouse in 1887 then reconfigured and moved to Mew Island in 1928.
The optic was removed from Mew Island Lighthouse in 2014 as the lighthouse was modernised and converted to solar power.
At around 130 years old, weighing 10 tonnes and standing 7 meters tall, it is a unique heritage object of national and international importance with links to our maritime and industrial past.
Its massive beam could once be seen by mariners over 30 miles away as it guided them to and from the busy Belfast Lough.
The new project from Titanic Foundation Limited, the charity committed to preserving Belfast’s maritime and industrial heritage, in partnership with the Commissioners of Irish Lights, will see the optic given a new role as an iconic attraction which brings to life the story of lighthouses, their technological developments, their light-keepers and their role in the maritime and industrial history of Belfast and beyond.
The rotating optic will be displayed in a landmark curved glass structure in its new location on the Titanic Walkway, which is currently being developed by Titanic Quarter Limited and funded by Tourism Northern Ireland.
The 500 metres of maritime walkway will connect the Titanic and Olympic Slipways and the Alexandra Dock, linking Titanic Belfast, HMS Caroline and the Thompson Dock.
Announcing the award, Head of HLF Northern Ireland, Paul Mullan said: “It is with thanks to National Lottery players that this very rare and hugely significant artefact can be saved and given new purpose for generations to come.
Following its restoration the optic will act as a beacon to visitors and adds to the wealth of maritime heritage attractions on offer in the Titanic Quarter, and we are delighted to be involved.”
Alongside Heritage Lottery funding, Titanic Foundation has secured £85,000 from Belfast City Council’s Local Investment Fund and £30,000 Ulster Garden Villages towards the project.
Welcoming the award, Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, added: “We are delighted to have secured support from Heritage Lottery Fund. Along with support from Ulster Garden Villages, Belfast City Council’s Local Investment Fund, Titanic Quarter Limited and Belfast Harbour Commission, this funding will allow us to save and restore an artefact of national and international significance. The Great Light will create a legacy Belfast landmark which will inspire future generations, enhancing Titanic Quarter’s position as a rich and authentic maritime heritage destination.”