A Visit to Northern Ireland and Titanic

We have just returned from a weekend in Northern Ireland – two days of rain and fun, that’s why it’s so green! Fortunately the fun had the edge on the rain so that was fine.  We stayed two nights at a country house hotel just outside of Lisburn and enjoyed some great food at two good restaurants in Hillsborough – The Hillside and the Parsons Nose and we would recommend them both.  One of our nephews, Jamie, works part time in the Hillside and he made sure we were very well looked after.  Our trip was part business and part social as we were also visiting relatives – my wife June had appointments with four Belfast based clients as she has her own HR (Human Resources) business – H.R For The Small Business.  As for me, I can’t go anywhere without looking in any antique shops I come across on my travels.

So naturally on the Saturday morning I had to pay a visit to Ballinderry Antiques just outside Lisburn and situated in a large old mill building with many rooms crammed full of Victorian and Edwardian furniture and some period pieces.  All of the surfaces and cabinets are full of  “smalls” this is what the antiques trade call small items of antiques, ceramics, glass, brass, boxes etc. It is very easy to lose your way inside Ballinderry as one room leads onto the next , then up a floor and around a corner and so on – every space taken up with antiques.





I made three small purchases – a good early 19th century deed box and pair of violin bows in their own mahogany box and a “vintage” set of early Beatles singles, it seems anything not actually antique is called “Vintage” now.  We then went to look in on the antiques fair in Hillsborough which was held in a large church hall.  It was well attended and  trestle tables filled the hall – everyone looking for that special ‘something’ that no one else had spotted.  There certainly was a good deal of second hand glass, china and bric a brac to choose from.  I must say, Hillsborough  is a great place to visit with so many 17th and 18th century buildings and all in all, a beautiful looking town.

Next was the fun part of the break.





We spent the afternoon paying a visit to NOMADIC which was the tender ship to the TITANIC and her sister ships OLYMPIC  and BRITANNIC.  All four ships were built by the Belfast ship builders Harland and Wolff and the Nomadic is now permanently in dry dock in the actual ship yard that the ships were built.  The Nomadic was originally built to ferry 1st and 2nd class passengers from Cherbourg out to the White Star line ships which  were too large to berth in the port of Cherbourg – a very fashionable port in its’ day.

The Nomadic has had a very interesting life and only a miracle stopped it being sent to the breakers yard on several occasions.  Luckily it was brought back to Belfast from Paris in poor condition after being used as a floating restaurant.  It has now been fully and wonderfully restored. The Nomadic boasts many original fittings and panelling – very similar to the Titanic fittings and was used to ferry the First Class passengers out to the ship. So, all the first class passengers who boarded the Titanic from the port of Cherbourg had first sailed on the Nomadic, before their fateful voyage, which adds to the history of the Nomadic.


The guided tour we took lasted just over an hour and the five of us – me, June, my brother in law Douglas, my sister in law Julie and our niece Katie. We all thought the visit to the Nomadic was excellent and would give it ten out of ten. Douglas and Julie had previously visited the Titanic centre across the road from the Nomadic but thought the Nomadic experience much better with so much to see, a miniature Titanic in fact, complete with original features.



Part of the Nomadic experience is the chance to put on some clothes of the time so that you can see what the passengers coming on board looked like.  After much encouragement and some arm twisting, Katie and Douglas modelled some of the costumes for the camera – good  sports those two!

In the dry dock that holds the Nomadic, is a rusty looking strange shaped ship which is the oldest ship made by Harland and Wolff still in existence. The ship is actually a huge plug, used in the entrance of the dry dock, the ship would have been  towed into the gap in the dock then filled with water until it sank into the gap, blocking it and then the water was pumped out of the dock.  The reverse process was carried out in order to fill the dock – the water being pumped out of the “Plug” floating it which  allowed the dock to fill again.


Graham Smith Antiques has been established for 14 years but Graham has been in the antiques business for 40 years. We trade on line and from showrooms on the edge of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and all  the items shown on the website are available to view at the show rooms where they are set out in four room settings – for ease of viewing. As long time members of LAPADA [the Association of Art and Antiques Dealers], the UK’s largest trade association for professional art and antiques dealers, we want all our customers to be confident to buy from us on line or in person and make every effort to make each sale a pleasure.  Please take some time to read our Testimonials page which can be found on the home page of our website.


Posted in A good day out, Interesting story
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