From the end of March 1909 and for the next three years, thousands of workers at the Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff laboured to built the Titanic. On 2 April 1912, the White Star Line's newest vessel commenced sea trials in the Irish Sea. The trials, overseen by the Board of Trade, were designed to assess the liner was fit to carry passengers. Tests included checking her manoeuvrability, balancing her compasses, coming to a full-stop, fine-tuning her wireless equipment and testing life-saving equipment.
Aboard the Titanic as she sailed from Belfast to Southampton for her maiden voyage were many Belfast men, amongst them engineers and nine men of The Guarantee Group. The group were from the Titanic's builders Harland and Wolff, and were led by the Titanic's designer Thomas Andrews. Their role was to resolve any teething issues with the new ship. In the disaster the nine men of the Guarantee Group and another 13 Belfast men named on the memorial died.
Fundraising by the city raised £1,000 for the memorial, but its completion was delayed as a consequence of the First World War. It was finally unveiled on 26 June 1920. The memorial was designed by English sculptor Sir Thomas Brock. Brock also designed the statue to Queen Victoria by Belfast City Hall and a number of memorials in London including the Imperial Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace in London.
The memorial is a marble female figure of Thane, her right arm outstretched, holding a wreath in her right hand. In Greek mythology the male Thanatos was the personification of death. Beneath Thane, emerging from the sea, are two nymphs with the body of a drowned sailor in their arms. The memorial stands atop a granite pedestal base.
The front face of the pedestal carries an inscription carved into the stone. The inscription reads '"Titanic" Memorial. Erected to the imperishable memory of those gallant Belfast men whose names are here inscribed and who lost their lives on the 15th April 1912, by the foundering of the Belfast-built R.M.S Titanic through collision with an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York'.
On the left-hand side the inscription continues 'Their devotion to duty and heroic conduct through which the lives of many of those on board were saved have left a record of calm fortitude and self sacrifice which will ever remain an inspiring example to succeeding generations. "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends"'.
The memorial carries the name of those Belfast men (known at the time to have been lost in the sinking) on the remaining two sides of the memorial: Thomas Andrews Jnr, William Henry Marsh Parr, Roderick Chisholm, Anthony Wood Frost, Robert Knight, William Campbell, Ennis Hastings Watson, Francis Parkes, Alfred Fleming Cunningham, Herbert Gifford Harvey, Albert George Ervine; and Dr John Edward Simpson, William McReynolds, Henry Philip Creese, Thomas Millar, Hugh Fitzpatrick, Joseph Beattie, Matthew Leonard, Archibald Scott, Hugh Calderwood, Richard Turley, William McQuillan.
- Eaton, J. P. & Haas, C. A. (1994) Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy (2nd edition) Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd.
- Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, The (1992) 80th Anniversary of the Sinking of RMS Titanic: A tribute to the engineering staff London: IMarEST
- McIlvenna, Catherine and Black, Jim (1999) Titanic Times - Belfast at the time of the Titanic Belfast: Irelandseye.com, http://www.irelandseye.com/titanic/index.htm