Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 13:18 UK

Dockers' celebrate their history

Belfast Dockers
The exhibition can be viewed at the Dockers Club on Pilot Street

An exhibition celebrating the life and times of Belfast's dockers has opened at the Dockers Club in the city.

Former dockers and their families collated their memorabilia to celebrate the centenary of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union.

Eddie O'Hara, a former docker said: "The foundation of the union, our union, was important to everyone, it helped improved workers rights."

The exhibition is part of the Shared Heritage Interpretive Project (SHIP).

SHIP launched in 2006 with aims to celebrate dockers' lives.

Former dockers have worked with SHIP to launch a series of events to tell the forgotten story of how the city's Dockers helped build Belfast.

At one stage there were two thousand working in Belfast's docks handling trade coming in and out of the Port as the city grew into a major industrial centre.

Today only 16 dockers remain.

One of the SHIP's committee members and former docker, Brian McCann, said: "Ours is a city steeped in maritime tradition.

"The role that workers played - whether as shipbuilders, sailors, harbour employees or Dockers - should be remembered with pride.

"We hear so much about the workers that built the ships in Belfast but people tend to forget the other end of the port which helped this city so much...The role that workers played will rightly be recognised."

Belfast docker at work
The exhibition celebrates the life and times of Belfast dockers

Along with the SHIP committee, Mr McCann does not want docking history to be forgotten, he said: "there's five of us left today to record the history that needs to be recorded for the future.

As well as the exhibition at the Dockers club, the committee are also planning a ceremony to name one part of the city as 'Dockers corner'.

"We're hoping to have the widest possible reach and our intention is that the exhibition will cover all aspects of how the dockland has interacted with the River Lagan and the sea" said Mr McCann.

The committee from the SHIP would like to add to the exhibition with more historical artefacts.

Anyone with materials, photographs or any memorabilia that they consider of some interest to the project should send them to Brian McCann at the Dockers Club on Pilot Street, Belfast.

Items will be on loan and will be returned safely.

Other events planned include a number of book launches detailing the Dockers' history and a civic reception at the Lord Mayor's parlour later on in the year.

The renaming ceremony for 'Dockers Corner' takes place in Dock Street on Friday 1 May at 1930 BST.



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