Published: 16th October 2017
Harland & Wolff Tracer celebrates her 105th Birthday
On Saturday 14th October, Mrs Rosemary Graham (nee Howard), who once worked in the Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices as a tracer, celebrated her 105th birthday in the newly opened Titanic Hotel Belfast.
Mrs Graham began working in the shipyard in 1936, and despite leaving when she got married a few years later, was asked back during World War 2 to help the war effort. Mrs Graham has fond memories of working in the shipyard, and her family were keen to mark her birthday by bringing her back to the building she once worked in.
Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation, was delighted that members of her team could meet with Mrs Graham and her family: “Former employees have been vital to this project, and their knowledge, support, memories and artefacts were invaluable to the restoration of the building. With the Heritage Lottery Fund’s support we have safeguarded the Drawing Offices for future generations and unlocked 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 the Heritage Enterprise Scheme.”
Her son Howard, commented, “My mother has very happy memories of her time at Harland & Wolff. She and all her colleagues were very proud of the work they did during what was a very difficult time.”
Mrs Graham was accompanied for lunch by her son, daughter, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great grandson and extended family and friends, and they enjoyed the celebrations in the beautifully restored hotel.
Among the ships Mrs Graham remembers working on is HMS Belfast, ship number 1000 built by Harland & Wolff and launched on the 17th March 1938. The most significant surviving Second World War Royal Navy warship, HMS Belfast served the navy for more than twenty years in both World War 2, the Korean War and a series of overseas commissions. In 1967 plans were successfully formulated to save it from scrappage and preserve it as a museum ship, with HMS Belfast now moored on the River Thames in London as a branch of the Imperial War Museum.
The stunning Drawing Offices have been transformed thanks to National Lottery players through a £5m grant, secured by the Titanic Foundation Ltd from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Heritage Enterprise programme. This innovative programme is designed to bring heritage buildings back into sustainable use, bringing new jobs, new opportunities and new investment to local communities.