Big dreams

River Lagan, Belfast

I’m not sure what I expected of Belfast. Any city with titanic ambitions you would naturally assume to be of olympic size. Belfast is not that. Don’t get me wrong, Belfast was always a go-getter when it came to things nautical. Major rope walks, massive linen industry and woodworking grew with its ship building dreams, but it is by no means titanic in size.

I have to be honest that when RV friends said they were going to something called the Titanic Experience I was a little dubious. Let’s just say there are no surprises in this “experience.” I mean, the ship sinks in an almost bizarre collection of human faux pas, killing most aboard. Nice that the band played on but really wouldn’t the short time left be better spent looking for something that floats? Anyway, we never go to anything that bills itself as an “experience.”

Marce was striking out at digging up long dead relatives at wherever she disappears to, so when it was suggested that we get experienced, always the team player, I acquiesced. Of course experience never comes cheap and this will be no exception. A cold but short walk later found us entering a modern building built in the shape of the White Star line logo, directly over the bones of the Harland and Wolff shipyard.

At least they didn’t insist that you enter via the gift shop.

Along with pricey admission we opted for the value added optional audio tour. A short walk on the second floor was like a dive into a rabbit hole Time Machine, emerging in early Belfast’s bustling past with old photos and film. It was well done and showed a skillset made to order for ship building. White Star was in competition with the Cunard Line for the biggest, fastest, most luxurious ships afloat. These ships were the Space X of the turn of the 20th century.

Things got fascinating in the drafting offices with thousands of engineers.

Before long we found ourselves in a line, waiting for what, we hadn’t a clue. Turns out it was a remarkably compact monorail fun ride that scissors your car up or down showing what it was like building the world’s largest ship.

It’s impossible not to be impressed with the massive size of these two vessels being built side by side, staked out in the slips where they were built. Titanic was in #3 to the left and Olympic to the right.

Next was the chilling timeline of the actual sinking and the dunderheaded foolish mistakes that were made that night. A great number of changes were instituted to safety regulations due to this tragic night. In fact SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulations were adopted after the investigation. Next came the butchers bill.

This huge hanging Titanic model is used as a scrim for highlighting various parts of the ship.

There are artifacts from the Titanic in glass cases, including the famous violin found floating in the North Atlantic

in this last section, standing on these glass panels, underwater footage of the final resting place of the Titanic slowly passes beneath your feet as though you’re sailing over the wreck. Chilling.

Turns out we really did have a Titanic experience and we didn’t even get wet.


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4 Responses to Big dreams

  1. Well worth it. Fascinating. Irish built. Time to do some reading. Marce and Jack, your sharing has opened my eyes wherever you go.
    Thank You!

  2. Jim Kennedy

    I forget. Didn’t it almost get run over by the nuclear attack submarine USS Annapolis off Groton Connecticut before the skipper called the vessel that was “beeping “ at us? Ah the bliss of not knowing what you’re doing…

  3. JB Wright

    You should listen to the Clancy Brothers “William Bloat” for a comment on Irish linen

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