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The Historic Harland & Wolff Yard - Belfast Titanic Walking Tour

Photographs  John H. Luxton 2012

The following photographs were taken on a walking tour around the historic part of the Harland & Wolff Shipyard on Queen's Island Belfast taken on April 06, 2012. The tour was one of several Titanic themed excursions offered to passengers on the MS BALMORAL Titanic Mini Cruise operated by Fred Olsen Lines from Southampton.

The walking tour was guided by Colin Cobb of Titanic Walking Tours, Belfast  ( www.titanicwalk.com ) and featured visits to several sites associated with the White Star Line Olympic Class Ships. I would certainly recommend participation in one of these tours if one wishes to have and interpreted visit to the historic part of the Harland and Wolff Yard. The tour offers unique access to the former Harland and Wolff Head Office which has lain abandoned since the 1980s. Though in a somewhat run down condition as can be seen from the photographs, the office building is to be sympathetically restored and extended.

Harland & Wolff Offices
Frontage of the building and main gates through which workers would have entered the ship yard.Revolving main entrance doors. Notice the company logo engraved on the glassThe former internal telephone exchange / reception in the foyer.
The entrance foyer area.Telephone exchange hatch detailA view up the staircase reveals that much restoration work is required.
The interior of the drawing office. It had been used earlier in the day for a reception for the Circuit of Ireland Motor Rally - hence the display board at one end.
Interpretative displays in the drawing office. The pictures on the left show what the building will look like when restored.
The Harland & Wolff boardroom. The floor is the original which would have been tread by the likes of Lord Pirrie and Thomas Andrews. However, the present panelling was added later. Colin Cobb holds up a photograph showing what the interior of the room would have looked like back in the early 1900s.The office and drawing desk of engineer Thomas Andrews
The rear exterior of the Harland and Wolff HQ. The drawing offices are the rendered grey extensions.
Leaving the rear of the H&W Offices one faces the new Titanic Museum building. The height of the wings of the building which represent the bows of the Olympic Class ships stand as high as the bows of the ships standing on the nearby slipways.

The first photograph taken from MS BALMORAL shows the slipways as viewed from the River Lagan.

Due to preparations for an event it was not possible to enter the slip way area. From left to right, the slipway on which the OLYMPIC and BRITANNIC were constructed. Next the slipway on which the TITANIC was constructed. The lighting columns are used to represent the large gantries constructed around the slipways. The narrow gauge railway tracks used to move materials around the ship yard can be seen as can the disturbed concrete where the gantry at the bottom of the access ramp was located.
The Thompson Dry Dock
The Thompson Dry Dock was constructed in 1911 and in its day was the largest dry dock in the world being built to fit out and repair the Olympic Class ships. It continued in use until the late 20th Century . Next to the dry dock is a pump house build to serve not only the Thompson Dry Dock but also the nearby Alexandra Dock. The 21,000,000 gallon capacity dry dock could be pumped out in under two hours. At the time these photographs were taken work was in progress to secure the caisson gate and permit the safe access of visitors to the bottom of the dock by a new stairway, the components for which were waiting on the far end of the quayside.
Thompson Dry Dock and Pump House seen from MS BALMORAL on the morning of April 06, 2010The caisson gate undergoing maintenance work with an outer protective coffer dam in placeThe replica bow section of RMS TITANIC built for a TV documentary displayed beside the Thompson Dry Dock.

Plaques commemorating the opening of the Alexandra Dock and Thompson Dock can be seen on the pump house wall, right.

The Thompson Dock Pump House
The Interior of the Pump House is divided into two sections. The first houses the giant hydraulic accumulator used to provide power to the quayside capstans and the dock's caisson gate. The blue cylinder houses and 80 tonne concrete weight which is pumped to the to the top of the cylinder. The pressure of the weight bearing on the water in the cylinder providing the hydraulic power.
The hydraulic accumulatorPumps and dials associated with the hydraulic accumulator.
The pumps used to drain the Thompson Dock are located below ground level in the pump well as can be seen in these photographs the control panel for the pumps can be seen on the left.

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