Article About the Harland & Wolff Shipyard

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I think that building a museum or a tourist attraction for those interested in the great liners, particularly Titanic, would be a great idea and a great future investment. Building housing, etc, will spoil the whole thing.

I would personally like to see the harland and wolff site restored to the way it was in the early 20th century.
>>I would personally like to see the harland and wolff site restored to the way it was in the early 20th century.<<

Mmmmmm...while it may be technically possible to do this, that may be more then just a bit of a problem as far as liability issues are concerned. A working shipyard is a very dangerous place and a non-working shipyard is not much better. To many places to fall drydocks...fall over, etc, etc, etc. Besides which, I'm not sure it's do-able if only because a lot of the that to mean working blueprints...needed to reconstruct the place are long gone.

Besides, can you imagine the maintainance headache that would come with keeping everything in a decent state of preservation? I can.

Still, that doesn't mean I can't dream a bit, and I'd love to see both the Titanic/Olympic slipways restored and the Thompson drydock as well. The latter at least is close to if not fully functional (Or at least that's my understanding) and there's no reason why the slipways themselves can't be cleaned up and repaired even if it turns out to be impractical to rebuild the gantry over it.
I have heard from a guy who is employed by Fred Olsen, that the site is owned by Fred Olsen and his Daughter. I dont know if this is true.

Anybody know if thats right?
I read the article from the link that John Clifford forwarded. First, thank-you - I enjoyed reading it. 2nd, I think Titanic should be celebrated and the people that built it should be proud - okay it sank but mistakes happen. Belfast & Harland & Wolff should be preserved. But by preserved I would hope that would restore it historically. I don't want it to look to modern. I can see modern now - I want to see it the way it was when Titanic was being built - take me back in time - do not modernize it so much I don't recgonize it.

Jason D. Tiller

Staff member
Having also visited Harland & Wolff a few years ago, I do hope that the buildings that are remaining are kept. I would love to see the slipways and the Thompson drydock restored as well, but I doubt it's going to happen. The next best thing would be a venue that is Titanic related, such as a museum celebrating the history of the shipyard and the ship itself.

It's great to see that Belfast's economy is doing well after all this time. I hope it continues. Plus, I applaud the city for finally recognizing the connection between them and Titanic.

Thanks for posting the link, John.
I really do hope you chaps are still watching this thread after all this time. As a Belfast resident, and an east belfastian for all that, i have to tell you that we live in a divided province. You all know of the division between protestant and catholic which has stretched back in this fair isle for hundreds of years. The Titanic and Harlands was a protestant institution and as such is mostly ignored and dissmissed by republicans, thats why there was such a wrangle over whether the Nomadic should be brought back to Belfast or not, it is a monument and a great item of historical pride for one section of our society, but a symbol of british and unionist domination to the other... just like Titanic. It cannot be denied that Ulster has a lot to be proud of but the internal divisions will always serve to impede what potential we can make of our heritage as the greatest ship building, linen spinning and rope making centre on earth at the turn of the twentieth century. Things are changing... a bit... people are starting to think positively for once, but as long as the old influences remain, and people hold grudges about old wrongs (and we cannot condemn them for many have suffered so much), the way ahead is hindered.

Heres to reconciliation, and sincere reconciliation at that.
This is something that I've been interested in for some time, without actually learning much.

I noticed, for instance, that a Catholic group protested against the heritage listing of the H & W cranes. Are they are just a few extremists, or is there considerable feeling against H & W in general and Titanic in particular? How about in the republic?
Mervyn,from one ballymac(ex cable st)man to another,I whole heartily agree with you,but can you see it happen?You would have to brainwash everyone in the country.I served my time as a plater in the yard & all of us were taught to hate three things:-shipwrights,linfield & taigs.I've changed,but I still hate linfield,the blue [email protected]#$.The holocaust & the inquisition happened as well,we should never forget,but move on.I had a whinge at granada tv about showing the religous bigotry.I'll bet that opened a few old wounds.I'm not saying it didn't happen,it did,I was there,I seen it.I had to run the gauntlet when I was going to beechfield st primary school.The kids from comber st & kilmood st would pelt us with stones etc as we made our way up bryson st.We thought that's the way it was.But we know better.It took belfast city council nearly sixty yrs to accept the fact that Jimmy McGuinness VC was one of belfast's sons.They would rather remember heros from 1690.
There was a yard owned by a Pritchard behind the strand,any relation?
seven degrees west.
davy wilson.
Dave Gittins g'day,from wa,belfast is a divided city,literally.When the british army walked the streets they carried on their persons,street maps of the city which were coloured in,green(republican)& orange(loyalist).Green want the brits out of ireland 100%& orange refuse to be irish,insisting that they are british.Anglo irish,in other words.In the seventies,at the height of the "troubles"the then pm of northern ireland,James Chichester-Clarke,in an interview was asked if he was british or irish.After a few minutes delay he answered "I don't know".As far as H&W was concerned,you have to look at the history.The belfast shipyard was started by shipwrights from the lowlands of scotland.Dissenters to a man.Refusing to be dictated to by pope or archbishop of canterbury.They had names like simpson,gibson,stephenson,wilson,sinclair,gregg etc.All presbyterians (church of scotland)& to this day,on 12th july a lot of them fly the saltire of st andrew patron st of scotland instead of the union jack.Their sons,nephews,brothers etc followed them into the trades in the yard.Eventually it became a closed shop.Let me make one thing clear,it was not management policy.As Gerry Fitt(mp for rc district in belfast),he later became lord Fitt,once said "it's not our shipyard,it's theirs"(the loyalists).I will give Gerry his due,he lobbied at westminster & won a contract for H&W against much opposition from the british yards.
I'm not setting out here to solve the problems in N Ireland.That is humanly impossible.For example,there are 52 religous denominations for a population of 1.5 million people,there lies the problem,I think.
Hopefully the eec will sort it all out.I trust this will help to enlighten you.
P S I'm off to karratha 4-30 mon,tomorrow for 2 wks
seven degrees west.
To the Editor of the Northern Whig

Sir -- I have from time to time scanned the lists of above deserving object, and was very pleased to see the grand response to the various appeals from Ulster Protestant business houses, private persons, churches, Sunday schools, Orange and Masonic lodges, &c, &c.

With one or two exceptions I have failed to find a single subscription from Roman Catholic chapels, or their only Ulster industry -- viz., public houses.

How is this, when it is well-known three-fourths of the victims of the disaster were Roman Catholics? It devolves on the "Protestant heretics" to provide for the widows and orphans.

If the Home Rule parliament was established at Dublin (which God forbid) I presume each member of the Cabinet would have a key for the cashbox, and it would be a case of "Help yourself, Pat," there's plenty more in the North, where that came from.

-- Yours &c.,

Ulster Scot

(Northern Whig, May 11, 1912, p 12)

* Nationalism in Northern, and Southern, Ireland largely coincided with Catholicism. Yet it must be self-obvious that any legitimate political aspiration can never be served by sectarianism.

Yet sectarianism can be made to serve a darker purpose. In any case, it will cloud an argument.

It has always, historically, been in the vested interest of a dominant political class to misrepresent the attitude, outlook and ambitions of an underclass.

To reduce political differences to caricatures of narrow sectarianism is, and ought to be, utterly reprehensible.

The problems of Northern Ireland, thankfully easing, remain essentially political difficulties. Great and patient work has been done on all sides to advance cross-community understanding. These are developments that prolonged violence (largely Republican-instigated) only horribly retarded.

Unionism and Loyalism is, naturally, a perfectly legitimate adherence and tradition whose culture and values must be respected and even exalted in a mature society.

But let us have no man, population or cause judged - whether for good or ill - on the sole basis of religion. That is irrelevant and wholly repugnant.

And it always has been.
Senan, how do you feel Titanic is regarded in the republic? Are she and her sisters seen as a cause for Irish pride? Is Titanic thought of as just a British stuff-up that killed good Irish people? Is the disaster just a minor incident among the many disasters in Irish history?
Dave, how do you feel the Titanic is regarded in Australia? Are there any "Catholic" or "extremist" groups that have particular views?

I gave an opinion last December in another thread (Titanic on TV) when you again spoke about a "Catholic protest group" - with which I am not familiar - allegedly protesting against the preservation of the H&W cranes.

Here is what I posted then -

I think the ship is admired throughout Ireland. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

A caveat is that there may have been a lingering attitude among a *minority* in the South in the 1920s or even a little later that the tragedy had "little to do with the us," but such a posture would have been ignorant of the fact that 120 Irish joined at Queenstown while there were another 60 Irish in the crew, even if many of the latter would have seen themselves as British.

Meanwhile that stupid rumour about 3909-04 would have have found some credence too...

...Even if it is a fact that the slogan "No Home Rule" was chalked (and photographed) on the Titanic's side.

We also have fireman Joe Mulholland's story that "filthy slogans about the Pope" were chalked on the flue boxes in the boiler rooms and seen by Thomas Andrews, who declared them disgusting and ordered them removed. That is said to have happened on the delivery trip to Soton.

These would be a case of non-maritime things getting in the way, for some, of an unclouded outlook on the short life of a legend.

If you want a more in-depth study you could consult a book on The Irish Aboard Titanic, via inter-library loan. Goes into the nuances in more detail.

So, No - it is not thought of as a British stuff-up that killed good Irish people.

It is thought of as a tragedy that claimed the lives of 1,500 people, good and bad, British, Irish - and a myriad other nationalities, religions and levels of social-standing, education, tolerance and understanding.
Thanks for your comments, Senan.

It seems that, other than a few on the ratbag fringe, attitudes in Ireland are much as they are elsewhere.

I couldn't manage to find the protesters again. I found them in 2003, while looking for something else. I assure you they exist, but from their site I'd say they are a noisy, very small minority.

I've skimmed through your fine book and I've even cited in my own e-book. Unfortunately I was only lent a copy very briefly. I'll recommend our State Library purchase it, as I've done successfully for other Titanic writers.

Australia has had its share of sectarian trouble, though not to the extent seen in Ireland. It played some part in the bushranging days. The Australian Labor Party could tell you quite a tale of sectarian strife that damaged it severely in the post-war years.

Today, Australia is one of the least religious countries in the world. I don't think I'll hear any sectarian comments about Titanic. We have some tall tales and general ratbaggery though.

Sectarianism exists. Who does it benefit?
Who is served by reductionist characterisation of particular issues as being of "religious division"?

It is almost always a grotesque distortion. But in certain 'theatres' it can prove politically advantageous. Cui bono?

Britain and Hong Kong had a territorial issue prior to 1997. Nobody portrayed it as Protestants versus Atheists. It would have been absurd.

Even Australia has a very minor territorial issue over Cronulla beach...

It involves Australian and Lebanese youths.

What if we were to reduce this to "natives" versus "immigrants" - see the power of labels?
Immediately partisan.

Natives appear to have antecedent rights - unless you happen to be an aborigine faced with European immigrants 200 years ago.

Who would it benefit to portray civil (not religious) conflict in Northern Ireland as natives versus immigrants? Even if those immigrants were there more than twice as long as European settlers in Australia?

[The recent three decades of bloody t~~-for-tat atrocities in Northern Ireland, let's remember, stemmed from the suppression of Civil Rights agitation. That's civil rights. Not a religious banner to be seen.]

Nobody today dare make colour comparisons, but it seems the pure ignorance of reducing issues to a religious characterisation is still acceptable.

How would you like it if Cronulla beach was portrayed on the other side of the world as Protestant/Atheist or even Infidel versus Muslim?

Of course it is quite, quite ridiculous. They only want to surf. But it in the case of Northern Ireland, while almost as absurd, it is extremely pernicious.

(It results in: "Oh they are just as bad as each other." Which is a recipe for doing nothing. And doing nothing suits those who are suited by a status quo.]

Religion may be a cloak for some, but it practically never has anything to do with the real issues.

Yet bigotry frequently benefits somebody - or at least bolsters an us-and-them attitude.

Again, who benefits from such crude portrayals?

Sectarianism is just as bad as racism, and being irreligious and sniffing disdain at supposedly inter-religious strife is absolutely as bad.

It is a case of what we might call the unholy (but self-regarding) still acting all holier-than-thou.

Spare me.

Religion, non-religion, race, loyalty, power and oppression have all been in the mix in Northern Ireland, but it is not a "religious conflict" and never has been.

So one can have Nationalists, Unionists, Republicans and Loyalists of every hue, position and "extreme" - but let's not gratuitously cartoon the situation.

We should all know the highly unhelpful power of religious cartooning by now.

Playing the sectarian card, whether deliberately or unconsciously, ought to be despicable in any situation, 1912 not excluded -


Sir -- In your issue of Saturday appears a letter signed Ulster Scot pointing out the "generous" subscriptions of Roman Catholics in connection with this terrible disaster, but your correspondent must be very innocent if he expected any generosity from such a source. All told, I believe, from the entire population of Ulster, Roman Catholics have not subscribed more than £50 out of the grand total of more than £12,000; but it was always thus. Take the coal fund as an example, and though year by year it amounts to £900 or £1,000, I venture to say Roman Catholics do not subscribe more than £50 or £60, and undoubtedly the members of that Church get at least half the coals supplied. Then again, look at our greatest charity, the Royal Victoria Hospital, which does such a noble work for the suffering, and it will be found nearly half the beds are occupied by Roman Catholics, and their contributions are few and far between. But this Church has always been the Church of grab, and it is quite a common excuse, when asked for a subscription, to meet a refusal with the plea that "it is against the principles of our Church." Is it not nearly time that a protest should be raised against the unfairness of taking all and giving none by letting Protestants support the charities in which they are specially interested?

--Yours &c.,


Sir -- I am glad to see the letter in your paper this morning from Ulster Scot re Belfast Catholics and the Titanic fund. I do not suppose that they have all told subscribed a ten-pound note, and your correspondent very properly calls attention to it. No doubt they will be very glad to get help from the fund for their people, but they have taken good care that very little of it comes out of their own pockets. They ought to hide their heads in shame in face of the splendid amount given by Protestants.

-- Yours etc,


(Northern Whig, May 13, 1912, p.8)

That's enough preaching from me.

Can we see any of these letters being printed today, say about the Hurricane Katrina relief effort?

One should hope not.
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