Page last updated at 20:22 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 21:22 UK

Fresh appeal for maritime museum

The Titanic
The Titanic sank in 1912, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives

It was built in Belfast, yet no-one bothered to make an application for a museum to commemorate it.

Now a fresh appeal is being made for the establishment of a maritime museum in Belfast linked to the Titanic.

The Heritage Lottery Fund was criticised in Northern Ireland earlier this year, when it allocated £500,000 towards a new museum in Southampton which will include an element dedicated to the liner.

But the body revealed on Wednesday that it had never been asked to fund a Titanic museum in Belfast.

"No-one has come to us to look for funding for a permanent museum in Belfast in relation to the Titanic," Paul Mullan of the Heritage Lottery Fund said.

"Southampton had developed their project to such a degree that they could come to us for funding.

"There was no contest at all, because Belfast didn't apply for anything."

Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers said he was disappointed that Belfast had made "no attempt" to get money from the fund for a maritime museum linked to the Titanic.

Exhibition

He said he was having discussions with various political representatives in Northern Ireland in a bid to make it happen.

"I am disappointed that no-one made an application and something needs to be done," he added.

"Virtually every city in the world is claiming a link to the Titanic and we have to remind people it was built in Belfast."

In 2005, plans for a £100m Titanic Signature Project in Belfast's dockland's area were unveiled.

Proposals included a full-scale model of the liner, exhibition galleries and a hotel and conference centre.

It is hoped the attraction will be open by 2012, the 100th anniversary of the ship's maiden voyage.

Mr Mullan said the Heritage Lottery Fund was "supportive" of this project but would not be able to fund it "because it doesn't have a museum focus".

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the Titanic's links to Belfast.

The SS Nomadic, a tender ship used to ferry first-class passengers to the liner was saved from a French salvage yard and is now being restored.

The Northern Ireland Office bought the ship at an auction in Paris for £171,320 in 2006.

Following a public appeal, £40,000 was raised in private pledges and Belfast City Council agreed to contribute £100,000.



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