Titanic dock gets £1.5m funding boost
Work has begun to protect the Belfast dock where the Titanic was fitted out.
On Thursday, the Environment Minister Alex Attwood announced that his department was providing £1.5m for preservation work on the Thompson Graving dock.
The 880ft (268m) long dock was originally opened in 1911.
The funding is the largest single investment ever made by the Department of the Environment in support of an historic monument.
The work will involve the construction of a new structure outside the existing 150ft (46m) wide steel dock gate in order to safeguard the dock from flooding.
The dock is currently maintained by the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.
Announcing the funding, Alex Attwood said: "The importance of the Thompson Graving dock should be acknowledged; when it was completed in 1911 it was the largest dry dock in the world and without it the Titanic and its sister ships Olympic and Britannic, could not have been completed."
He added that the work was needed to ensure the dock's future.
"The work will not only preserve the original dock gate but will also allow better public access to the dock and the working dock floor," he said.
"It is a vital element in the Titanic experience and in itself conveys the achievement of the original build, the devastation of the loss of life and the engineering achievement of the ship designers and builders."
The Tourism Minister Arlene Foster also welcomed the announcement.
"This a very significant project and will be another important part of our tourism offering," she said.
"It will maintain the dock gates and ensure the Thompson dock continues to be an integral part of the whole Titanic experience."
The public will be given access to the dock floor for the first-time ever in April 2012.