Ghost ship to light up Titanic birthplace

A HUGE “ghost ship” could soon light up the Belfast skyline to mark the birthplace of the ill-fated Titanic, it was announced yesterday.

The unique life-sized light-sculpture would be the centrepiece of a £100 million (€145m) visitor attraction, seizing on the worldwide interest in the liner, which sank when it hit an iceberg on its maiden transatlantic crossing in 1912.

The first steps were taken towards the development of the attraction when Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board were given first sight of a vision for the Titanic Signature Project.

The project would be a world-class attraction, bringing together all the key historic sites associated with the Titanic.

Diane Dodds, chairman of the Belfast City Council Tourism Sub-Committee, said: “The council’s goal of marking the Titanic’s birthplace in the ship’s home city is now one step closer.

“Finally and rightfully the city that gave birth to the ship has begun to acknowledge its part in the tale.

“This concept would celebrate the achievement that was Titanic, while commemorating the tragedy and educating the world about our city’s role in the Titanic story.”

Commenting on the report, produced following a £70,000 consultation exercise, NITB chief executive Alan Clarke said it meant Belfast was now closer to establishing a world-class attraction that would compete against the best around the globe.

“Over the past nine months, a widespread consultation process has garnered support from all quarters and has shown that an attraction based on the theme of Titanic holds great economic, cultural and regeneration opportunities for all of Northern Ireland.

“The concept captures the imagination of people throughout Northern Ireland and interest within the international marketplace.”

The scheme put forward to the council and NITB would encompass and safeguard all the listed areas within the Titanic Quarter of Belfast associated with the famous ocean liner.

It envisages:

* A centrepiece building covering 11 acres - based on the slipway where the Titanic and her sister ships were built.

* The building would include a series of large galleries, an archive of Belfast and Northern Ireland in the industrial age, exhibition area, education centre, themed restaurant and conference facility with Titanic-themed banqueting facility.

* The adjacent Harland and Wolff shipyard drawing offices; the Hamilton and Alexander Dry Docks are also included.

* The Thompson Dry Dock would be brought back to life with the creation of the “ghost ship”, which would be visible across the Belfast harbour skyline.

* A large industrial sculpture park would sit alongside a hotel and a conference and convention centre.

The project will be put before the full Belfast City Council for consideration on September 1.

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