Since the 1880s the Harland & Wolff Headquarters building was the nerve centre of the largest shipyard in the world. Thousands of ships were designed in the drawing offices and constructed on the adjoining slipways, including White Star liners Olympic, Titanic & Britannic and the naval warship HMS Belfast.
In later years, shipbuilding went into decline and the building finally closed in 1989. The magnificent dual Victorian drawing offices, with their three-storey high barrel-vaulted ceilings - the only surviving example of this type of architecture in the world - were abandoned and left to slowly rot for nearly thirty years.
In 2016, a partnership between the Titanic Foundation, Heritage Lottery Fund and Harcourt Developments breathed new life into the building; transforming a derelict landmark into a unique boutique hotel and giving the public access to a heritage building that had been closed for decades.
Work began in March 2016 and focused on restoring the heritage features; repairing the damage caused by being empty for almost thirty years.
Working closely with conservation architects, traditional techniques such as lath and plaster were used on the walls. As much of the original fabric of the building was retained, with decorative features and artefacts reused wherever possible. Where it could not be retained, existing decorative moulding was recorded and replacements made.
ADI studios based in Dublin were appointed for the interior design of the Hotel. Director Maria Rice chose to specify Lincrusta as we know Lincrusta was actually installed on many White Star line ships including the Titanic and thought it would add a special touch. Helena Brazil, who has been researching Lincrusta, discovered exactly where Lincrusta would have been aboard the Titanic. Rooms B57, B59, C70 and C72 had Oak panels installed and B63 and C74 featured Sycamore panels; of course, these were all first class suites for the wealthy. Mutters & Zoon were responsible for interior design on the Titanic.
After seeing a selection of designs Maria chose to use Tapestry RD1972FR within the lifts. Once installed by Gerard O’Neill, the Lincrusta was then hand painted in a deep shade of blue and highlighted with gold to give a luxurious decorative effect. We think you’ll agree the results are absolutely stunning!
The restoration was completed in September 2017; and the Grade B+ listed building is now a shining symbol of Belfast’s golden age and the city’s status as one of Europe’s leading visitor destinations today.
With huge thanks to The Titanic Hotel, Gerard O'Neill, Maria at ADI Studio, Helena Brazil and Christopher Heaney for their contributions and for sharing this amazing project with us!
www.titanichotelbelfast.com ADI Studios Maria Rice, Interior Designer for specifying Lincrusta (www.adistudio.ie) Woolcastle Decorators, Gerard O’Neill for installation and Decoration of Lincrusta Helena Brazil for her valued research into Lincrusta Photographer Christopher Heany (www.christopherheaney.com)