This was shot on a moody Sunday afternoon in March 2008. I haven’t lived in Belfast for half my life, and it often seems like a foreign city compared to my memories. There’s much less left of Belfast’s raw industrial heritage on display nowadays, but that which remains is being renovated and refreshed. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
This harbour area, originally part of the old Harland & Wolff shipyard, is now known as ‘The Titanic Quarter‘, but this 268 metre long dry dock, where the mighty Titanic was fitted out before her maiden voyage, lies sadly neglected in this photo. New buildings, part of the Northern Ireland Science Park, sit back from the dock, while the old pumphouse can be seen with
I first visited here about 17 years ago, on a cold winter’s morning with my family. At the time the dock had fallen derelict, and lay almost forgotten in the wider public consciousness. Then it was even more dilapidated, but somehow much more evocative of past glories. A thin film of frost covered old ropes, bollards and scrap metal, and the sea dripped ominously through the gates at the far end. I remember taking black and white photos of gnarled ropes and puddles, fascinated by the decay and the prospect of former glories and activities at this site.
Granted, these days I’m taller, however the rather-unsympathetically designed new fence around the dock area seems to constrain and diminish the vastness of this space, compared to my initial visit as a kid.
Footnote: four years on, I believe much has changed here. The Titanic Quarter has grown rapidly, and this year’s centenary of the Titanic’s ill-fated voyage has centred around the area. The Graving Dock’s centenary was commemorated in 2011, and is recognised as a historical monument. I look forward to revisiting and reshooting this scene when I’m next back in Belfast.
(Edited March 2012, updating the panorama with a revised Flash and new HTML5 version, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s fateful voyage.)