Facebook Twitter YouTube Google+ Pinterest Trip Advisork
History

History

Step aboard the SS Nomadic, the original tender ship to the Titanic, and experience over 100 years of authentic maritime history in one unique location.

SS Nomadic

So much more than Titanic’s little sister!

Originally built alongside the mighty RMS Titanic in Belfast in 1911, the SS Nomadic is much more than just “Titanic’s little sister”. Designed by Thomas Andrews and built using the same design and similar luxurious finishes the similarities to the Titanic are plain to see. Being exactly one quarter of the size of her famous friend, the Nomadic is often referred to as “a mini Titanic” Over 100 years of history and adventures are evident the minute you step on board.

In April 1912, the Nomadic completed her most famous task by transferring the excited first and second-class passengers from the shallow dockside in Cherbourg out to the Titanic, which was moored in deeper water just off shore. In awe of the White Star Line luxury and ground breaking design those passengers were blissfully unaware of the tragic fate awaiting many of them only days later.

With active service in both World Wars, over fifty years experience of carrying thousands of passengers to the world’s largest trans-Atlantic liners and nearly thirty years as a restaurant and party venue moored beside the Eiffel Tower in Paris the Nomadic has a million stories to tell.

As the last remaining White Star Line ship anywhere in the world and a member of the core collection on the National Historic Ships register, the Nomadic is back “home” in Belfast, after 100 years, and has been painstakingly restored to her original glory. The Nomadic has now opened a new chapter in her history and is looking forward to welcoming a whole new generation of visitors on board.

Why not come a sample a little bit of authentic Titanic luxury for yourself? See what the Nomadic has to offer.

Explore our Timeline for more information on the dramatic history of this extraordinary ship.

Book your tickets and plan your visit here

SS Nomadic 10 Fast Facts

  NOMADIC TITANIC
1. H&W Yard Number 422 401
2. Slipway Number 1 3
3. Time to Build 159 days 790 days
4. Length 233 feet 6 inches 882 feet 9 inches
5. Width 37 feet 2 inches 92 feet 6 inches
6. Number of funnels 1 4
7. Number of engines 2 3
8. Time in service 57 years (1911 – 1968) 13 days
9. Gross Tonnage 1273 46,328
10. Max Speed 12 knots 23.5 knots

RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic, Yard No. 401, was the second of three Olympic Class ocean liners built by Harland & Wolff for White Star Line - the first being RMS Olympic and the last being RMS Britannic. The Olympic Class liners were built to be bigger than any of White Star Line's rival's vessels, while being the ultimate in comfort and luxury.

Developed by Harland and Wolff's leading designers, Titanic was overseen by Lord Pirrie, a director of both H&W and White Star Line; naval architect Thomas Andrews, the managing director of Harland and Wolff's design department; Edwards Wilding, deputy to Thomas Andrews who was responsible for calculating the ship's design, stability and trim; and Alexander Carlisle, the shipyard's chief draughtsman and general manager.

Launched on 31st May 1911, Titanic was tugged to the dry dock for fitting out before setting off in April 1912 on her journey to Southampton.

On 10th April 1912 came the event that would earn Nomadic her place in history - the arrival of Titanic at Cherbourg. 172 first and second class passengers boarded Nomadic for their short journey out to Titanic, among them were the hugely wealthy American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim and socialite Margaret 'Molly' Brown.

RMS Titanic set off for her next stop in Queenstown (Cobh) to farewells from the Nomadic crew shouting 'Goodbye, see you in fifteen days', before departing on her westward journey across the Atlantic to meet her fateful end.

Sadly, 63 of the 172 passengers who boarded Titanic via SS Nomadic would later be among those to perish in the sinking.

Today Titanic Belfast, the world's largest Titanic visitor attraction, sits on the slipways were Titanic and her sister ship Olympic were built. The Titanic Experience extends over nine galleries, with multiple dimensions to the exhibition, drawing together special effects, a dark ride, full-scale reconstructions and innovative interactive features to explore the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way. Visitors can explore the shipyard, travel to the depths of the ocean and uncover the true legend of Titanic, in the city where it all began.

Please visit the Titanic Belfast website for further information on the Titanic story or to book tickets for the Titanic Experience.

Hamilton Dock & Pumphouse

Step back in time and take a stroll on the original cobbles of historic Hamilton Dock!

Hamilton DockSituated in the heart of the Titanic Quarter beside the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Hamilton Dock and Pump House sit proudly in front of the new world-renowned Titanic Belfast visitor centre – seamlessly linking the old with the new.

Now listed as a historic scheduled monument, Hamilton Dock was built between 1864 and 1867 and is the oldest graving dock on the County Down side of the river. The plan to build the dock initially caused some controversy and was unpopular with the local shipbuilders who preferred the docks to be on the County Antrim side of the river and closer to their homes; remember in those days Belfast had few bridges. However the recently formed Harland and Wolff shipbuilders were adamant and put pressure on the Harbour Commissioners to construct Hamilton Dock, thus paving the way for the rise of shipbuilding on Queens Island and ultimately the building of Titanic.

For over 120 years (from 1867 until the 1990’s) Hamilton Dock was used for repairing, maintaining and fitting out ships. Photographs taken of Queens Road when Titanic was being built place the Nomadic beside Hamilton Dock and it is strongly believed that she was originally fitted out in the dock in 1911.

Hamilton Dock was last used in the 1990’s and quickly fell into disrepair and it stayed that way until 2009 when the Nomadic Charitable Trust was looking for a new home for the restoration of Nomadic to be carried out. It seemed like a perfect solution to combine two authentic maritime assets and restore them both as a tribute to a time when Belfast was the envy of all other industrial cities in the British Empire, as home to the world’s biggest shipbuilder.

Please visit the restoration section for more information and photographs about the rescue and restoration of Hamilton Dock.

See what the newly restored Hamilton Dock has to offer.

The Caisson Gate

The oldest Harland & Wolff vessel in the world?

Caisson GateBuilt by Harland & Wolff in 1867, the original caisson gate for Hamilton Dock now stands proudly on display beside the Nomadic. Although called a caisson “gate” it is actually a vessel in its own right.

The caisson is a hollow vessel built from wood and steel which, when flooded with water, was sunk down into channels at the head of the dock so that the water could be pumped out of the dock via the pumps in the pump house. When the ships were ready to leave the water was pumped out of the caisson gate so that it floated up out of the channel and flooded the dock, allowing the ship to leave.

The caisson is listed as “Hull No 50” on Harland & Wolff’s shipping register and is believed to be the oldest Harland & Wolff vessel anywhere in the world. For over 130 years the caisson sat at the mouth of Hamilton Dock, holding back the sea of the Abercorn basin and protecting the ships that were dry-docked for repairs. Even when Hamilton Dock was no longer in use, the caisson gate still sat in position at the mouth of the dock.

In 2009, the decision was taken to move the Nomadic to Hamilton Dock. The original caisson was then removed, but realising the historic importance of this artefact it was decided that it should be protected and displayed in the dock it has called home for over 145 years. A new gate has now replaced the original caisson at the head of the head and is designed to keep the dock dry.

The full preservation and restoration of the caisson gate is a continuing priority for the Nomadic Charitable Trust - Click here for more information on how you can donate and help preserve this important piece of maritime history.

Please visit the restoration section for more information.


Testimonials


As an ex Harland & Wolff fitter, the Nomadic brings back memories of my time at Harland & Wolff.
Visitor, Kells