SS Nomadic Belfast
SS Nomadic Belfast (Image Source: Flickr – Karoline Brix Andersson)

SS Nomadic is the last remaining White Star Line ship. Designed by Thomas Andrews—also the designer of the RMS Titanic—and built by Harland and Wolff in the Belfast shipyards, the SS Nomadic was launched on 25 April 1911 in Belfast. It is now on display in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. The ship’s original job was to transfer passengers and mail to and from RMS Titanic and RMS Olympic.

History and Construction

SS Nomadic was constructed at yard number 422 in Belfast, right next to the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic. The 1,273-ton ship is 230 feet long overall and 37 feet wide. It’s made up of a complete steel frame, contains four decks in total, and could carry up to 1,000 passengers. It was one quarter the size of the Titanic.

The vessel was divided into first and second class areas, as first-class passengers were able to enjoy the lower and upper decks and the open deck on the bridge and flying bridge decks.

Voyages

On 10 April 1912, the vessel took its maiden voyage, transporting 274 passengers to the RMS Titanic, including New York millionaire John Jacob Astor IV, American journalist and United States Army officer Archibald Butt, Denver millionairess Margaret Brown, whose interesting story we’ll get into later on, as well as mining tycoon Benjamin Guggenheim.

During WWI, the French government requisitioned the SS Nomadic to transport American troops to and from the harbour in Brest, France.

In the 1930s, the SS Nomadic was sold to the Société Cherbourgeoise de Sauvetage et de Remorquage and renamed Ingenieur Minard. During WWII, the ship took part in the evacuation of Cherbourg. She finally retired from duty on 4 November 1968.

Five years later, Yvon Vincent bought the vessel and converted it into a floating restaurant, taking it all the way to the Seine in Paris. In 2002, the Nomadic was seized by the Paris harbour authorities due to the company’s financial difficulties.

Back Home

On 26 January 2006, the Northern Ireland government Department for Social Development bought the vessel at an auction for an estimated €250,001.

SS Nomadic returned to Belfast on 12 July 2006, and arrived close to where she was built, on 18 July 2006.

The ship is now incorporated into the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction.

Restoration

Major benefactors, including the EU Peace III fund, UK Heritage Lottery fund, Belfast City Council, Ulster Garden Villages, and Northern Ireland Tourist Board, contributed to raising the funds (£7 million) required for restoration.

By late 2009, the major conservation and restoration work began on the vessel and Harland and Wolff, the ship’s original builders, were in charge of the repairs.

Modern Day Attraction

After a century long career, the SS Nomadic now serves as a historical exhibition. If you happen to visit the Titanic Belfast Exhibition, you can also take a trip to the SS Nomadic. Do not miss the opportunity to walk down the paths of history.

Famous Passengers

The SS Nomadic has had its fair share of renowned passengers from all walks of life. Below is a glimpse into the lives of some of the people who made their journeys onboard the ship.

Sir Bruce Ismay

Joseph Bruce Ismay was the Chairman and Director of the White Star Line company. He accompanied the Titanic on her maiden voyage to New York and became infamous for deserting the ship while women and children were still on board, earning the nickname of the “Coward of the Titanic.”

The “unsinkable” Molly Brown

A millionaire American socialite and philanthropist, Molly Brown travelled on the SS Nomadic in order to board the RMS Titanic, in April 1912. She survived the disastrous sinking of the Titanic and later became renowned and known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” for her efforts to persuade the crew of the lifeboat she had boarded to continue searching the water for survivors.

Marie Curie

The first woman to win the Nobel Prize, Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist who is famous for her radioactivity research. In 1921, she travelled aboard the SS Nomadic from Cherbourg on a fundraising tour of the United States.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

World-renowned actress Elizabeth Taylor was one of the world’s most famous film stars, taking part in huge productions, such as Cleopatra.

In 1964, Elizabeth and her husband, actor Richard Burton, arrived in Cherbourg on the RMS Queen Elizabeth. They were transported by the SS Nomadic from the liner to the quayside where local photographers and journalists waited eagerly.

James Cameron and John Landau

No introduction is needed for the director of the iconic film Titanic. James Cameron’s 1997 box office smash hit, produced by Jon Landau, won 11 Oscars. In 2012 during a visit to Belfast, Cameron and Landau requested a tour of the SS Nomadic that was still in restoration. A depiction of Nomadic was briefly seen alongside the Titanic in the James Cameron movie.

Tourism

The Titanic Belfast project was initially created to enhance Northern Ireland’s tourism. The building opened in 2012 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic.

The Titanic Experience consists of nine galleries, giving visitors the opportunity to explore the ocean and discover the truth behind the myths revolving around the Titanic, right in its city of origin.

The Nomadic Experience

With four major decks, walking aboard the SS Nomadic allows you to experience what it was like to be a passenger on your way to the RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage. Feel free to walk around and explore the ship, and a take journey through over 100 years of legendary maritime history.

Visit the SS Nomadic for an amazing experience. Opening times and prices are below.

Nomadic Opening Times

The SS Nomadic has set opening times throughout the year, so it is best to know the times as they change almost every month. The attraction is also opened seven days of the week. Below are the times

  • January to March – 11am – 5pm
  • April to May – 10am – 6pm
  • June – 10am – 7pm
  • July to August (Sunday – Thursday) – 10am – 7pm
  • July to August (Friday – Saturday) – 10am – 8pm
  • September – 10am – 6pm
  • October (Monday – Friday) – 11am – 5pm
  • October (Saturday – Sunday) – 10am – 6pm
  • November to December – 11am – 5pm

Nomadic Prices

The SS Nomadic offers a range of standard admission prices. They’re as follow:

  • Adult – £7
  • Child – £5 (Age 5-16)
  • Child – Free (4 years or younger)
  • Concessions – £5 (Students and Pensioners 60+)
  • Family Ticket – £20
  • Carer – Free (With Customer who needs assistance)

The concessions ticket only operates during weekdays (Monday to Friday Only)

The SS Nomadic advises booking tickets only. If you wish to visit the SS Nomadic, visit the Titanic Belfast Website.

 

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