Titanic shipyard sounds loudest siren in Belfast for NHS staff

The shipyard that built the Titanic has blasted its horn across Belfast for the first time in two decades in appreciation of NHS workers.

The siren, famed as the loudest in the city, rang out from Harland and Wolff at 8pm as people across Northern Ireland again gathered at their doors to applaud healthcare staff battling coronavirus

A long row of cars parked outside the yard and its famous yellow cranes, and sounded their own horns to mark the occasion.

Harland and Wolff managing director John Petticrew said: “We figured that it would be appropriate because they are unique times we are in, we thought we would sound a unique alarm.

“It is quite simple. It is to support all the essential workers who are working, like nurses and doctors and bus drivers, to show our support from Harland and Wolff, just the same as everybody else.”

He added: “It is not about Harland and Wolff, it is about the people risking their lives on our behalf.”

Stormont’s Parliament Buildings was again illuminated with blue light in honour of healthcare workers.

Unite the Union represents workers at Harland and Wolff.

A union spokesman said staff wanted to show appreciation to frontline NHS staff and those working to sustain other services in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The shipyard horn has not been sounded properly in 20 years and is the loudest siren in Belfast, it will be heard in all parts of the city,” he said.

Harland and Wolff, which was opened in 1861, is best known for building the ocean liner Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage in April 1912 after striking an iceberg.

More than 1,500 passengers died.

The yard built its last ship in 2003, an MoD ferry named the Anvil Point, and numbers employed have dwindled dramatically from its heyday.

It was bought out of administration last year by London-based energy firm InfraStrata.

The company’s main project is gas storage at Islandmagee in Co Antrim.