Monday, 23 April 2012

Titanic Belfast Visit

I spent four hours at the brand new Titanic Belfast exhibition centre today, a cross between an indoor theme park, museum, exhibition, shop, restaurant, café and function rooms.

I was with two friends, one of whom hailed from the United States of America.

This is indeed a large exhibition. We all enjoyed it and found the history of Belfast's shipyard, Harland and Wolff, and the fateful story of RMS Titanic, particularly fascinating (avoiding the awful pun, riveting).

Highlights include a short film, shown on a huge screen, taking one past the ship-wreck itself, from bow to stern; and replicas of first, second and third class cabins.

There is also a ride in a kind of pod or capsule, which moves through various stages of shipbuilding, upwards and downwards, on a journey. This takes about five minutes. I was slightly underwhelmed by this. Still, it was well done and I'm sure there will be room for development as time passes.

The shop deserves a mention. This must rank as the ultimate Titanic Shop in the world, not that I've ever visited any. It contains every conceivable souvenir, apart from the great liner itself. Items on sale include Waterford crystal, titanic fudge, reading material, crockery, linen and apparel.

Thus, at five-thirty, I bade farewell to my friends and rode homewards on the trusty two-wheeler.


Anonymous said...

Thank God my children would not be interested in this. The Titanic pudding has been so thoroughly over egged that I don't think I could stomach visiting!


Rex Hunter said...

today's news of the imminent closure of the Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, once also opened with a fanfare, is surely very sobering. A few years from now, will interest in the Titanic have faded, leaving a £97 million white elephant ( or white iceberg as it is said to have been built to resemble one ) ?

Kyle Leyden said...

I entirely agree with Rex's concerns. Having visited the site, I found it a tad facile, but my main concern is the creation of these "visitor spaces" which have no intrinsic value and thus are entirely dependent on their "wow" or novelty value to draw crowds. Alas these spaces tend to lack sustainability as novelty and technological modernity wear off. The St Patrick Centre is but the last of a long line of victims of this: the Flight of the Earls "Experience" in Draperstown (how ANYONE thought a tourist site would survive there?!); St Patrick's Trian and the Navan Centre in Armagh have all proven to be entirely unsustainable. This can be contrasted with the sites of inherent heritage value like Mount Stewart which can be reinterpreted over time and continue to draw increasing numbers being not dependent on novelty and "bells and whistles". The inclusion of a large Conferencing Suite is, I think, an admission of the dubious sustainability of the exhibition space. The measure of the wasted opportunity at Titanic Belfast was best demonstrated I feel when one finds oneself standing in a huge and vastly expensive plastic recreation of the H&W Drawing Offices when the actual offices stand less than two hundred feet away on the Buildings at Risk Register. It was a bizarre decision to exclude the historic fabric of H&W from this first development and one I fear TQ will live to regret.