Thomas Ismay Honored by City of Belfast

The Times

BELFAST, July 20---Mr. Thomas H. Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, was to-day presented with the freedom of the city in recognition of his services to Belfast trade and industry in connexion with the construction of the famous line of steamers with which his name is associated. All the White Star vessels have been built at Messrs. Harland and Wolff's shipyards, and therefore, it is easy to understand the unanimity of feeling which has marked the proposal to make Mr. Ismay an honorary burgess.

The presentation of the certificate was made at a special meeting of the city council by the Lord Mayor (Mr. Jaffe, J.P.). His lordship said it was only natural that the county council of Belfast as the representatives of the citizens should seek an opportunity of expressing their esteem for Mr. Ismay. They could not allow the launch of the new Oceanic to pass unnoticed. If they were proud that Belfast could produce such a marvellous maritime structure they were also grateful to Mr. Ismay and his company for having entrusted Messrs. Harland and Wolff with the order. (Cheers.) Mr. Hill, on behalf of the Queen's Island workmen, presented the casket which contained the certificate.

Mr. Ismay in reply expressed his high appreciation of the honor which had been conferred upon him, and spoke of the remarkable development of Belfast, which, thanks to the energy end the industry of the inhabitants, was counted worthy to be dignified a city, and no mean city. He could not recall any unfriendly word in the course of a unique business relationship between the White Star Line and Messrs. Harland and Wolff, which began with the small sailing ship Broughton, of 600 tons, in 1867, and had continued from that historic masterpiece of Sir Edward Harland's genius the first Oceanic---the pioneer steamship of the White Star Line---without interruption to the present time, when the twin-screw steamer Oceanic No. 2, of 17,000 tons, the largest vessel afloat, represented, as they believed, the highest point of excellence ever attained in ship construction of one generation. Since the launch of the Broughton the tonnage built or now in process of construction for the White Star Line by Messrs. Harland and Wolff amounted to more than 295,000 tons of sail and steam tonnage to carry the flag of the White Star Line and the fame of their builders into the most distant parts of the world, and he hoped the line would have the advantage of getting many more vessels from Belfast, the production of some of the most capable workmen to be found anywhere in the shipbuilding world. (Cheers.) He was glad to be identified with Belfast for another reason---it was a city that had of all others shown that Ireland's truest and best interest lay in the development and extension of her industrial resources. said, "There are three things that make a nation great and prosperous---fertile soil, busy workshops, and easy conveyance for men and goods from place to place." Situated some half-dozen miles from deep water, Belfast has deepened and straightened her channel, and, with the spoil, reclaimed land for future as in the most valuable position, and had now a channel perfectly safe for the longest and largest steamships afloat, a fact that would soon, he trusted, be established by the transit of the Oceanic to the great waters beyond. In conclusion he bore testimony on behalf of the owners of the White Star Line to the excellence of the work the working men of Belfast had done in the ships which had been built for the line and to the happy relations which existed between capital and labour at Island-yard.

Subsequently the large company present were entertained to luncheon at the invitation of the Lord Mayor. Mr. Ismay is the second honorary burgess of the city, Mr. W. Pirrie being to receive the distinction. At night a banquet was given at Ormiston by Mr. and Mrs. Pirrie to meet Mr. Ismay and the going Judges of assize.

Related Biographies:

Thomas Henry Ismay
William James Pirrie

Relates to Place:

Belfast, Northern Ireland

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Mark Baber

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