The Belfast Telegraph columnist, Linda Stewart, reported recently that the historic Pump House that served the dock where RMS Titanic was built is to be transformed into a visitor centre for HMS Caroline.
The listed building is the subject of a new planning application by the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which is working towards reopening HMS Caroline to public view in 2016.
HMS Caroline is to be restored to her former glory and it is hoped she will reopen in time for the centenary of the Battle of Jutland at the end of May, 1916.
The well-known Belfast architect, Dawson Stelfox MBE DL said his company Consarc has drawn up plans for restoration work to the Pump House for its client, the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
These plans have now been lodged with the NI Planning Service. Mr Stelfox added,
"It goes alongside the restoration of HMS Caroline. The Pump House was originally built for the Alexandra Dock and it serviced both the Alexandra Dock and the Thompson Dock. Part of the Pump House will be used as a visitor reception area for HMS Caroline.
The whole fabric of the building will be restored, the brickwork and the stonework, and internally it will be fitted out as a visitor reception and interpretation for when people arrive at the site.
The whole of the dockside is going to be restored with cobbles and square setts – it will take away all the tarmac and restore the traditional features. At present the site is owned by Northern Ireland Science Park, but the planning application has been lodged by the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
Eventually the Pump House will be taken over and run by either the National Museum of the Royal Navy or the Titanic Foundation. This is part of an overall plan to get all of the historical assets in the area restored. It started with the Hamilton Dock and the SS Nomadic which was finished last year.
The idea is that the Alexandra Dock and the Thompson Dock would both be restored and a walkway would be created along the river, connecting the two together."After Caroline was decommissioned in 2011, there were proposals to move her to Portsmouth, but following a hard-fought campaign, the National Museum of the Royal Navy announced that she would stay in Belfast and be restored to her former glory.
In May, 2013, the Heritage Lottery Fund approved an £845,600 grant to support conversion work as a museum.
The former boiler room of the Pump House has been converted into a modern cafe and visitor centre which is open to the public.