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 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. Lincrusta was installed in the buildings lifts as we know that many of the ships designed here specified Lincrusta, including the titanic which had Lincrusta installed in the first class suites.
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 and Maria at ADI Studio for sharing this amazing project with us!