Moored at a dock near the Titanic Museum Belfast is the SS Nomadic a white Star Line tender ship that carried 1st and 2nd class passengers out to the Titanic from Cherbourg. For a trip that took only 35-minutes it was outfitted with a lot of opulence… Like Titanic the Nomadic was built in Belfast at Harland and Wolff shipyard in 1911 Eighty-percent of the inside contains original cabinets, staircases, furniture, doors, clocks and tableware.
In 1960 Cunard took over the White Star Lines and the Nomadic’s last year as a tender ship to ocean liners was in 1968. She was bought by a French businessman and for 25 years was a floating restaurant on the Seine River. In 2006 the Department of Social Development of Northern Ireland in developing the Titanic Quarter purchased Nomadic bringing her home to Belfast. Where she underwent a multi-million dollar restoration.
Taking a guided tour of Nomadic is a must before going into the Titanic Museum. It gives you an idea of the opulent comforts that was put into even these tiny ships and a sense of the history; rich passengers, their piles of luggage and trunks and servants being tendered in style across the channel from Cherbourg to where the great ship waited.
The Titanic Museum Belfast sits on the exact spot in the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the great ship Titanic was built. Architect Edward Kuhne designed the building to be 126 feet high the same height at the Titanic’s hull. The inside covers 130,000 square feet with a main exhibition area of 118,403 square feet. The core is the many galleries that show the designing, building and outfitting of the Titanic.
Since it opened in 2013 1.2 million people have visited. Given its enormous size the best way to see it is on a self-guided tour with an audio.
Exhibits start on the top floor explaining the history of Belfast, how it was, because of the 15,000 people that were employed at the Harland and Wolff shipyards, the shipbuilding capital of Ireland. Watch the video made up of original footage of Titanic’s launching. Where you stand is approximately where the great ship slid into the water on May 31, 1911. The pointed glass bow of the building is angled down the Titanic’s slipway towards the River Lagan.
The Titanic Museum Belfast pays homage to the history of the doomed ship and to the city of Belfast. On April 2, 1913 she sailed from Belfast to Southampton. Belfast residents like to say “When we sent her off to Southampton she was fine and grand”.