Titanic Town



At the Titanic Quarter on Belfast's Queen's Island, work continues on the office blocks and riverside apartments despite the economic gloom.This redevelopment of 105 acres of land once home to the sprawling Harland & Wolff shipyard is a totem of a regenerating city and the starting point for Gerry Anderson's exploration of the meaning of Titanic in the city of her birth.

It might seem strange, and in questionable taste, to name this brave new world after an 'unsinkable' ship which perished on its maiden voyage, and for many years the people of Belfast would most definitely have agreed. A famous photograph from 1911 shows workers streaming out of the shipyard with the half-built Titanic towering above the terraced streets behind them. It's a reminder that this global icon has roots in a real place amongst real people.

They don't make ships in Belfast anymore. The last great liner to be built was Canberra in 1960. But the Titanic has become the thread that links modern Belfast to its industrial heyday. Cleansed of its residual guilt and divisive political undertones by the passage of time and a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust, it's now held up as an emblem of local ingenuity and entrepreneurial nous. If something this incredible, this famous can come from this small city on the fringe of Europe, perhaps the next Google or Microsoft might begin here too.

As the people of Belfast now like to say about the Titanic. 'She was all right when she left here.'.

Gerry Anderson considers Titanic's complex relationship with the city of her birth.