East Belfast only became part of the city following an extension of the municipal boundary to take in the old townland of Ballymacarrett on the County Down bank of the River Lagan in 1853. However, Ballymacarrett had been part of Belfast in all but name since its purchase and inclusion in the Chichester estates in 1787. It was from the start an important contributor to the industrial success of the city with a glassworks, foundry, ropeworks etc, and became pre-eminent with the growth of its shipyards.
The shipyards gave a unique, close-knit character to the local community. Literally thousands of households were linked by having members working in what was at one period the world's largest single shipyard, Harland and Wolff, which at its peak had over 30000 employees. Although East Belfast no longer rings to the sounds of shipbuilding the special community identity is still strong.
Known worldwide as home to the ill-fated Titanic, the area, subsequently extended to absorb the villages of Sydenham, Strandtown and Knock, has other claims to fame. It had the world's largest ropeworks and Short Brothers (now Bombardier), pioneers in aviation and builders of the Sunderland flying boat and the Stirling bomber, established their aircraft factory in 1936. East Belfast was the birthplace of the author C.S.Lewis and later the world famous footballer, George Best, and the singer Van Morrison. It is now home to the Northern Ireland Assembly which meets in the fine Parliament Buildings at Stormont.
East Belfast is perhaps best identified by the enormous, yellow, shipyard gantries, Samson and Goliath, which dominate the skyline. These have become icons of past glory but, despite industrial decline, the area is now a vital part of the Laganside regeneration scheme with the Odyssey, a huge, modern sport and entertainment complex, and the Titanic Business Quarter for the development of high-tech industries. The East Belfast Historical Society through its well attended meetings and publications provides a focus for the preservation and dissemination of information regarding the area's notable history and heritage.
The majestic Titanic is known to many , mostly because of its dramatic sinking that went down in the books of history as one of the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disasters but she stills holds the pride of being an icon for all that was great about the 20th century . The Titanic construction began in March 31 , 1909 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast , Ireland . She was a White Star Liners project funded by American financier J . P Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co , after his discussion with the company's Chairman J . Bruce Ismay She was built to compete with the White Star Liners major rivals Cunard who had just launched Lusitania and the Mauretania which were the fastest moving passenger ships at the time . Ismay wisely preferred to invest in size and luxury as his competing tool instead of speed , thus the creation of the massive ship . She had two sisters though , the Olympic and the Britannic (initially called the Gigantic ) , the three meant to stand out as the largest and most luxurious and ship in the world , at the time of course.
Harland and Wolff were responsible for turning the designs by White Star Liners into a ship , which they obviously pulled successfully , given the authority to spend what it needed on the ships plus five percent profit margin . The Titanic was based on a revised version of the Olympic . The construction kicked off after approval by Ismay . She was 882 feet 9 inches (269.1m ) long , 92 feet 6 inches (28.2m ) wide and 175 feet (53.3m ) high (measured from top of the bridge to the keel base ) . She weighed over 46,328 gross register tons and with a 4 feet 7 inches draught , displaced 52,310 tons of water . Her maximum carrying capacity was the 3,547 people (including passengers and crew ) per travel and could accommodate a maximum of 65 life boats . She was most certainly a majestic beauty to behold . The Titanic was equipped with two reciprocating two cylinders , triple expansion steam engines and one low-pressure Parsons Turbine , which powered three propellers (one four-center and two three-blade wing propellers ) . A possible top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h ) was made possible by the 29 boilers fir by 159 coals burning furnaces . She had four 62 feet (19m ) funnel , only three of them were functional while the fourth was for ventilation purposes . It made the ship more impressive too ! She also had in her sixteen watertight compartments with automatic doors that closed in response to water level . If any two of the compartments were flooded or if the first four flooded , the ship would remain afloat . Speaking of which , researchers discovered that six of these compartments were flooded during the Titanic wreck . To expel gas , she was equipped with four funnels constructed off site ; one of which was only meant to give her a much powerful look . Leave it to the designers to even give a ship a monstrous look ! Designed to be an epitome of luxury and comfort , she was equipped with an on-board gymnasium , libraries , swimming pools , high-class restaurants and opulent cabins for the first-class accommodation . The total construction of the masterpiece cost an approximated $7.5 million , yeah that's $300 million in 2017 ! Quite a fortune I must say . The construction took slightly over two years and she took her maiden voyage in April 1912 at Southampton .