Full sail ahead for new distillery in Titanic pump house

The original 1911 pump house associated with the building of the Titanic is to be converted into a new whiskey distillery and tourist attraction.

By Graeme Cousins
Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 3:33 pm
Titanic Distillers directors, left to right, Peter Lavery, Stephen Symington, Richard Irwin and Sean Lavery
Titanic Distillers directors, left to right, Peter Lavery, Stephen Symington, Richard Irwin and Sean Lavery

The listed building in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter along with its neighbouring dry dock, first opened in 1911 and is regarded as the world’s only authentic Titanic landmark.

Belfast drinks company Titanic Distillers has been given the green light by Belfast City Council to convert the pump house into a working distillery with associated visitor tour.

Included in the plans is the installation of three large stills on a mezzanine floor overlooking the original pumping engines which are situated deep in the pump well.

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All the original pump equipment and associated internal historic features of the building will be retained and available to view as part of a visitor tour, with tourists also able to relax in the adjacent tourism centre, which will include an on-site ‘speakeasy’ bar and café with free wi-fi, gift shop, exhibition space and an enlarged mezzanine floor with tasting rooms.

Aside from restoration requirements, the exterior of the pump house will remain largely untouched under the plan but will be open for tourists to view the famous Thompson dry dock, which was built in 1911 to accommodate the massive White Star transatlantic liners Olympic and Titanic.

Titanic Distillers director Richard Irwin said: “Titanic Distillers is inspired by the people who worked in Belfast’s shipyard more than a century ago, and now tourists will be able to walk in their footsteps in the very pump house and dry dock that represent such an authentic part of the Titanic story and indeed the history of Belfast.

“At Titanic Distillers, we are very aware that we have a big responsibility as custodians of a hugely historic and global brand, and it is crucially important that we preserve the historical integrity of this building and its surrounds.

“The pump house has survived remarkably well for more than 100 years in a very harsh environment but it is in much need of repair and any further decline would represent a major risk to its future, so our first priority is to restore the building and bring it back to its former glory while maintaining and securing its long-term future.”

Once completed, visitors to the Pump-House will ‘clock in’, as workers did a century ago, to view the workings of the distillery and hear the story of Belfast’s whiskey tradition, why it disappeared and how it has returned with the city’s first working whiskey distillery in more than 100 years.

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