IN PICTURES: HMS Caroline’s ‘home’ given £20m makeover

Some fascinating pieces of Belfast’s maritime heritage have been preserved and put on public display in the Titanic Quarter’s biggest regeneration project in recent years.

The Pump House at Alexandra Dock has been reborn as a visitors centre featuring much of the original Edwardian-era machinery and associated technology and will be officially opened to the public on Tuesday, March 27.

The Pump House (left) ' now a visitors centre ' in the shadow of HMS Caroline

The Pump House (left) ' now a visitors centre ' in the shadow of HMS Caroline

Alexandra Dock itself has been painstakingly refurbished with the cobbles being removed one by one, washed and individually repositioned by hand.

The £20million regeneration project has also seen the installation of a new 25-metre steel and timber footbridge across the mouth of the dock which has been the home of HMS Caroline since 1924.

The ship – the last remaining floating survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland – was fully remodelled last year to include exhibition areas and interactive suites.

The bridge allows visitors incredibly close access to the historic ship’s bows.

Some of the maritime exhibits in the new visitors centre

Some of the maritime exhibits in the new visitors centre

Director of the regeneration project, Captain John Rees OBE from the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “The completion of the Pump House and the bridge across Alexandra Dock opens this revived area of Queen’s Island for the public to explore this collection of Victoria architecture, engineering and marine technologies focused around HMS Caroline.”

To mark the restoration project a three-week long festival will take place centred on Alexandra Dock.

The Dockside Festival from March 30 to April 20 will include daytime workshops, crafting, activity trails and the chance to handle replica artefacts.

The evening schedule of events includes movie screenings of The Goonies and Piranha in the HMS Caroline’s Drill Hall, as well as lectures by Dr Eamon Phoenix and Donal McAnallen on the political environment into which HMS Caroline arrived in 1924 and the impact of the World War One on GAA in Ulster.

The view from the Pump House of HMS Caroline

The view from the Pump House of HMS Caroline