This sculpture celebrates the legacy of shipbuilding in Belfast, the hopes, the dreams, the achievements by generations of working men, yardmen... These Titanic yardmen are responsible for creating the most iconic ship in maritime history, through them history and myth are now riveted together. ~ Ross Wilson, Sculptor, Belfast Telegraph, 28 March 2012
Amongst the Titanic memorials in her birthplace, the city of Belfast, are a growing number of recent public sculptures. Through the imagination and creativity of the sculptors the story of the Titanic, and her memory, is captured in unique public art installations. Standing in front of the Dr Pitt Memorial Park on the Newtownards Road in the east of the city is the 'Titanic Yardmen 401' sculpture.
The sculpture remembers the men of the Harland and Wolff shipyard, especially those who built the Titanic. Over the decades of shipbuilding at the Belfast yard many of the men would have worshipped at the Westbourne Presbyterian Church (known locally as the 'Shipyard Church'), standing opposite the sculpture on the south side of Newtownards Road.
From 1859 the Harland and Wolff shipyard produced some 1,750 vessels during over a century of continuous shipbuilding. Laterly, following the decline in liners built for companies such as the White Star Line and the Union-Castle Line the yard built bulk carriers and tankers, but with declining fortunes in shipbuilding the yard produced its final ship MV Anvil Point in 2003.
Belfast is synonymous with its murals, painted on the gable-ends of houses through out the city. Many murals are associated with the sectarian divide in the city, but following the Good Friday Agreement some of the more controversial murals have been replaced. Now murals depict the Titanic, and the sculpture is part of a wider scheme - the East Belfast Partnership's Re-Imaging Newtownards Road project - to re-imagine the local area with community-based artwork.