Hotel plans for Titanic building

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Published: Tuesday 17th February 2015 by The News Editor

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The building where the RMS Titanic was designed is to be turned into a hotel.

The Harland and Wolff headquarters and drawing offices on Queen’s Island, Belfast, was the control centre for one of the largest shipyards in the world early in the last century during a golden age for shipbuilding.

Now the vacant building is to be transformed using a £4.9 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.

Kerrie Sweeney, chief executive of the educational charity the Titanic Foundation, said: “With HLF’s support we will safeguard the drawing offices for future generations and unlock the commercial potential of the entire building as a boutique hotel with heritage at its core.

“This is a truly unique and authentic project for Belfast that could not have happened without the support from Heritage Enterprise Scheme.”

The former headquarters building is where Belfast workers created and designed over 1,000 ships including the White Star Olympic Class Liners – Olympic, Titanic and Britannic and naval warships such as HMS Belfast.

In April 1912 on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York the Titanic struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic and sank, with the loss of around 1,500 lives.

It marked the end of the Edwardian era of opulence two years before the start of the First World War.

It was also the zenith of an era for Harland and Wolff, which in its heyday employed thousands of men in a shipyard covering some 300 acres. Jobs there included welders, riveters, platers, plumbers, painters, carpenters, designers and naval architects.

The industry declined in the 1950s and the Harland and Wolff building has been vacant since 1989 – at risk for almost a decade.

Its restoration into an 84-bedroom 4-star hotel has the potential to create more than 100 jobs.

The lottery grant will focus on developing the two drawing offices as spaces for public use. The hotel will also tell the story of Belfast’s industrial heritage, focusing on the authentic spaces – board room, telephony room and entrance lobby – as well as the fixtures and fittings relating to the local shipbuilding industry.

The grant has been awarded through HLF’s Heritage Enterprise programme. It is designed to help when the cost of repairing an historic building is so high that restoration is not commercially viable.

Paul Mullan, head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: “This is an exciting project that will see one of Belfast’s most historic buildings reborn as a major tourist destination.

“This, like many of the city’s historic buildings, has incredible potential to act as a driver of regeneration and economic growth.”

Published: Tuesday 17th February 2015 by The News Editor

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