07th January 2013
Five Stars in the East by Charlie Warmington
The most loved nativity account is of three wise men following a star to Christ’s stable, making the star an iconic symbol of Christmas. It’s no coincidence that countless ships from around the world have been called Star, and many famous shipping lines too. RMS Titanic was the White Star Line’s flagship; the Red Star Line founded in the 1800s boasted a huge fleet of famous vessels, and the Blue Star Line was formed in 1911. East Belfast saw the hulls of many Stars piercing the December skies above their Queen’s Island slipways. On the 12thDecember 1874 the fully-rigged Star of Russia was launched, one of over a dozen magnificent Belfast-built Stars for J.P. Corry and Co. Half a century later in 1934 the Blue Star Line took possession of their brand new 11,000-ton Imperial Star, and on the 29thDecember she sailed from the Lagan to carry refrigerated good around the world. A year later in 1935 the Blue Star company directors arrived in Belfaston the 20thDecember to receive a similar vessel, the Empire Star. On the 18thDecember 1946a second ship with the same name was delivered to Blue Star, and on the 20th December 1951the 7,000-ton Easter Star was completed down on Queen’s Islandfor the Australia China Line. These five proud Stars from East Belfast were the city’s gifts to the maritime world at Christmas, designed by very wise men and built by a host of ‘angels’ in hob-nailed boots to shepherd vast flocks of passengers and countless thousands of tons of cargo around the world.
25th November 2012
The Funnels of Maritimes Past by Charlie Warmington
Belfast’s internationally recognised and iconic images are of two enormous yellow cranes and four massive funnels. The cranes, Samson and Goliath, still pierce the city’s skyline, but Titanic’s four funnels lie rusting at the bottom of the Atlantic, the disintegrating debris of disaster.
Our Barge at Large monthly anniversary is of a Belfast-built ship whose history is curiously interspersed with the cranes and funnels. After the first of the three Olympic-class liners RMS Olympic was launched from the slipway beside her ill-fated triplet-sister RMS Titanic, the keel was laid for another Royal Mail ship - RMS Arlanza. Arlanza nestled in the shadow of Titanic’s towering hull – the four famous funnels were installed on the fitting out quay - until her launch on the 23rd of November 1911.
The 15,000 ton Arlanza was built for service between England and the east coast of South America. She could accommodate nearly 1,400 passengers, with five cargo holds and refrigeration units for meat and perishable goods. After completion and handover in September 1912 she went to sea, but on 16th August 1914 she was intercepted by the German auxiliary cruiser SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse off the coast of Brazil. But Kaiser Wilhelm’s fair-minded German skipper, aware that there were civilian passengers aboard Arlanza that included 420 women and children, released the vessel. Co-incidentally SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was the world’s first ocean liner to have four funnels – the trade mark of Titanic!
Arlanza was converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser, fitted with guns, and joined the 10th Cruiser Squadron, taking part in the gruelling WWI Northern Patrol. On 29th October 1916, sailing from Russia, she hit a mine, and even though a British Tug was deployed to tow her back to Belfast for repairs, she returned to the U.K. under her own steam, and later joined the heroic Atlantic Convoy Routes until her decommission in 1920. Today Arlanza’s slipway is overshadowed, not with four big funnels, but with Belfast’s newest and hugely popular star-shaped Titanic Museum, overshadowed by two big yellow cranes!
To learn more about the secrets of the River Lagan you can sign up for our monthly newsletter The Barge at Large. Each week we will feature a new ship launched on the 23rd of the month, along with giving you updates for upcoming events and news around the Belfast Barge. To sign up go to: https://app.e2ma.net/app2/audience/signup/1421851/1409717/?v=a
14th August 2012
Well the summer has been full of great gigs onboard the Barge! HOtel MOtel was a fun night as part of the Pride Festival, and sold out to 100 people!
We were delighted for the Locker Appeal to have a fundraiser which contributed to the £10000 raised in aid of this cause (www.lockerappeal.com).
What a fantastic night the Mighty Shamrocks had - a reunion gig after 30 years!
The Barge is a great venue to have any kind of event and is a versatile, unique and intimate space with excellent acoustics. Keep an eye on the What's On section and on the Belfast Barge facebook page.
For any events enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
06th July 2012
Maritime Trail Review
A literary jaunt through decaying Sailortown as part of the 'Poets and Players, Dockers and Dreamers' series - delivered by Lee Lavis (Lagan Legacy Heritage Officer) alongside John Campbell - check out the link - http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article/5076/tour-review-maritime-trail
26th May 2012
Lagan Legacy win Waterways Renaissance Award!
We are the winners! On Wednesday 23th May The Waterways Trust announced the Belfast Barge (Lagan Legacy) as the winners of the Uk wide Waterways Renaissance Award for our Education Programme!! Great work everyone!