Belfast loses replica Titanic anchor bid to Dudley
- 11 June 2010
- From the section Northern Ireland
Belfast is proud of having built the Titanic, but the city has lost out on one piece of maritime memorabilia to landlocked Dudley in the West Midlands.
A reproduction of the doomed boat's 16-tonne anchor was built during the making of a television programme, provisionally titled We Built Titanic, at a cost of about £50,000.
Steelworkers at a foundry in Sheffield forged a replica of what was at the time billed as "the biggest anchor in the world", based on the original plans.
The five-part series for Channel 4 and National Geographic involves reconstructing various elements of the ship, including cabins and the bow, showcasing the Edwardian craftsmanship and industrial processes which were involved.
Production company Twenty Twenty Television offered Belfast City Council the chance to buy the reproduction at a cost of £20,000, but warned them other parties were interested.
Members of the council's development committee had agreed to set aside £6,000 out of the tourism, culture and arts budget to go towards buying the anchor, which would be displayed as a piece of public art.
A May deadline was set, but the council found out on 30 April that Dudley Council had bought it.
The Black Country town, famed for its metal work history, has its own Titanic connection; the original anchor was built in nearby Netherton.
It took 20 horses to transport the anchor to Dudley station, from where it was taken by train to Fleetwood and shipped across the Irish Sea.
The programme will feature a recreation of the original delivery journey from the ferry in Belfast to Queens Island, using shire horses to pull the anchor on a wooden dray.
Executive producer Sam Whittaker said: "We've gathered a group of modern-day engineers to construct some of the iconic pieces from Titanic, to look at some of the extraordinary skills of the workforce who built such a magnificent ship pretty much with their bare hands."
As part of the reconstruction, a 30ft by 30ft section of the bow will be built to scale next week at the Graving Dock in Belfast, culminating in the raising of the structure on Saturday.
It will be left there as a memorial to the people who worked on the ship.
The mould used for the anchor could still be used to create another replica, but the cost could rise to as much as £40,000 and the council will have to make a final decision by October.
The Titanic, built in the Harland and Wolff shipyard, sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.
The city's links with the ship are a powerful draw for tourists around the world, and a series of events are planned to commemorate the centenary of its sinking.
Hundreds of millions of pounds are being pumped into the ambitious Titanic Quarter project, which will feature commercial, residential and educational developments, including a new site for the Belfast Metropolitan College and the Public Records Office.
The project will include the restoration of the Thompson Dock and the slipways where the Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympic, were built.
A £90m Titanic Signature building is planned for the head of the Titanic slipway.