One hundred years after the launch of the RMS Titanic in Belfast, a Cairncastle parishioner has unearthed a remarkable link with the past.
Retired architect Hugh Robinson from St Patrick’s Parish has found a card posted by his father almost immediately after he watched the historic launch on May 31 1911.
Hugh’s father Hugh Allen Robinson was 19-years-old when he stood at the quayside in Belfast Docks to witness one of the world’s most historic events. He wrote to his sister Alice in Southport, England, immediately afterwards, posting the card at old General Post Office in Royal Avenue.
The picture on the card shows the Titanic before the launch standing on the Harland & Wolfe North Yard slipway and the hand-written text reads:
I have just come from seeing the launch of the ‘Titanic.’ It glided beautifully into the water. The ‘Olympic’ is going across to Liverpool today. The weather is beautiful here now, just roasting. Hoping that you are well.
With love, Hugh
The stamp is franked and the time given as 1.30pm, just an hour and a quarter after the launch. This remarkable link with one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic events has been kept safely in the family archive over the years, but now Hugh is keen for others to see it as Belfast celebrates the launch’s centenary.
Hugh’s father was employed in his father’s dyeing and bleaching works in Dromona and had a keen interest in engineering. He went on to study the subject in Wolverhampton, and in 1914 he was one of the first people in the area to learn to drive a car. When war broke out he joined the Army and volunteered for the royal Flying Corps.