A £4.9million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will enable The Titanic Foundation Ltd. to restore the derelict Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices where RMS Titanic was designed – unlocking plans to develop a luxury 4* hotel in the shipbuilder’s former headquarters building.The Harland and Wolff Headquarters Building and Drawing Offices on Queen’s Island, Belfast were the control centre for the largest shipyard in the world. It was here that Belfast workers created and designed over 1,000 ships including the White Star Olympic Class Liners – Olympic, Titanic and Britannic and naval warships such as HMS Belfast. The Harland and Wolff building has been vacant since 1989 and has been considered ‘at risk’ for almost a decade.
The restoration of the B+ Listed building into an 84-bedroom boutique hotel has the potential to create over 100 local jobs. The Lottery grant will specifically focus on developing the two historical Drawing Offices as spaces for public use. The boutique hotel will also tell the story of Belfast’s industrial heritage, focusing on the authentic spaces – Board Room, Telephony Room and Entrance Lobby – as well as the fixtures and fittings that relate to the local shipbuilding industry.
The grant has been awarded through HLF’s Heritage Enterprise programme. It is designed to help when the cost of repairing an historic building is so high that restoration simply is not commercially viable. Grants of £100k to £5million bridge the financial gap, funding the vital repairs and conservation work needed to convert derelict, vacant buildings into new, usable commercial spaces that can have a positive impact on local economies.
Paul Mullan, Head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: “This is an exciting project that will see one of Belfast’s most historic buildings reborn as a major tourist destination. This, like many of the city’s historic buildings, has incredible potential to act as a driver of regeneration and economic growth. With Heritage Enterprise, HLF is helping local businesses tap into that potential by covering the high costs of restoring vacant and underused heritage buildings – making them fit-for-purpose as commercial, and therefore sustainable, spaces.”
Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, was delighted with the announcement: “Titanic Foundation in partnership with Titanic Quarter Ltd has been working on this project over the last two years. It has been a long process but worth it. With HLF’s support we will safeguard the Drawing offices for future generations and unlock the commercial potential of the entire building as a boutique hotel with heritage at its core. This is a truly unique and authentic project for Belfast that could not have happened without the support from Heritage Enterprise Scheme.”