The making of the Titanic: Belfast edition

Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer


Workers started building the Titanic on March 31, 1909, at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At that point in time, about 9,000 men were employed by this company. Today, the company only has 130 employees. This shipyard also built the Titanic’s sister ships, the Olympic and the Britannic. 

In the Titanic Quarter of Belfast lies the Titanic Museum, Titanic Studios, and the H&W cranes. This whole area encompasses all 185 acres of the previous Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built. A key part of this area is the two massive, yellow cranes named Samson and Goliath that can be seen when touching down or taking off from the Belfast City Airport, as well as from key points around the City Centre. Goliath is the shorter one, standing at a baffling 314.96 feet high, while Samson measures in at 347.77 feet high. Each crane has no problem lifting 840 tons each. Samson and Goliath were designed by Krupp, a German Engineering Company, and were completed in 1974 and 1969, respectively. Additionally, the dock where they are located is the largest building dock in all of Europe. 

Another key component of the Titanic Quarter is the famous Titanic Museum, which opened in 2012. The museum is a wide building that is five stories high and looks out on the waterfront, studios, and shipyard. It is a breathtaking view. The inside of the museum also has an amusement park like ride within it which tells the personal accounts of the various workers who helped build the Titanic. This ride encompasses two floors and looks into the lives of the people who operated and built the ships. One level of the museum tells the story of Belfast as a boomtown for numerous industries and why the Titanic was chosen to be built in this city. Another level tells of the launch at precisely 12:13 p.m. on May 31, 1911. It is on this level where you can transport yourself back to that historic time with a 3D model, and artifacts like the actual ticket for the official launch of RMS Titanic. This floor also shows the specific layout of all the levels and quarters of the ship, as well as places like the boiler room. It also encompasses the beginning of the voyage, upto the point at which the ship strikes the iceberg, then each minute after until the final sinking. The last level explains the aftermath, the artifacts that were found beneath the surface years later, and just how the sinking of the Titanic helped to improve the safety and security on ships that we travel on today. In fact, after the Titanic sank, the Britannic was redesigned to encompass more accurate safety procedures and methods, including the number of lifeboats carried on the ship. This was possible by comparing the total weight of the Titanic to the total amount of people on the ship Britannic. 

The last component of the Titanic Quarter is the newly added Titanic Studios, which were built for the purpose of shooting many of the interior scenes of the popular series, “Game of Thrones.” It has also served as the primary shooting location for all eight seasons of the show, as well as other duties like hosting actors such as Bill Murray in the film “The City of Ember.” Now it is one of Europe’s largest film studios and has helped establish Northern Ireland as a world-class location for film and TV production. The Titanic Studios includes two buildings; The Paint Hall, which encompasses a total of eight acres, and the Hurst and Macquitty Stages. 

The making of the Titanic in Belfast, as well as the choice of location for the filming of Game of Thrones has helped shape the city into what it is today. A common saying from the people here is that “the Titanic was fine when it set sail,” as they are very proud of producing such an iconic feat of engineering. The locals are also very proud of the Game of Thrones series, so much that they have five stained glass murals throughout the city to honor it. 

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