If your only knowledge of the Titanic story is through Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet, you’ve a lot to learn. I’ll confess now, I’ve never seen the film. And nor did I really know much about the doomed ship. Five years ago, and at a cost of £77 million, the Titanic Belfast opened on the site of the slipway from where she was launched. And it’s pretty hard to miss it.
I’ve been to a fair few “tribute” museums over the years, and a lot of the time they’re simply too overwhelming to take everything in. For instance, Nahville’s Country Music Hall of Fame is so crammed with stories and memorabilia, it’s almost too difficult to recall a single thing I saw. The difference here, of course, is there’s one central story.
Although there’s a lot to digest, the history of Belfast’s rich industrial heritage is told well, and much of the exhbition is given over to the Titanic’s construction at the Harland and Wolf shipyard. Titanic Belfast is billed as an experience rather than a museum – and the most bizarre experience comes in the form of a ghost-train like ride through the shipyard’s workings. The small cars are lifted and lowered up, down and around – it’s clear that this is where a lot of that £77 million went.
Sadly there’s no full size replica of the Titanic, but there is the tug boat Nomadic, resting in a dry dock nearby – and giving you a small insight into life on board – complete with a hologram of a snotty French bar tender.