Plans to transform Titanic Pump-House into whiskey distillery and tourism site given the green light

A project to convert Belfast’s historic Titanic Pump-House into a new whiskey distillery and tourist attraction have been given the green light.

he listed building in the heart of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, along with its neighboring dry dock, first opened in 1911 and is the world’s only authentic Titanic landmark.

The dock is where the massive White Star transatlantic liners Olympic and the ill-fated ship Titanic – which sank on its maiden journey after hitting an iceberg in 1912 – was constructed.

Belfast drinks company Titanic Distillers was given the go-head by Belfast City Council on Tuesday to convert the Pump-House into a working distillery with a visitor tour.

Included in the plans are the installation of three large stills on a mezzanine floor overlooking the original pumping engines which are situated deep in the pump-well.

Titanic Distillers said all the original pump equipment and internal historic features of the building will be retained and available to view as part of a visitor tour.

Adjacent to the Pump-House will be a tourism centre, which will include an on-site ‘speakeasy’ bar and cafe with gift shop, exhibition space and a mezzanine floor with tasting rooms.

The company explained that aside from restoration requirements, the exterior of the pump house would remain largely untouched under the plan.

“We are very excited that our planning application has been approved,” said Titanic Distillers director Richard Irwin.

“Titanic Distillers is inspired by the people who worked in Belfast’s shipyard more than a century ago – and now tourists will be able to walk in their footsteps in the very pump-house and dry dock that represent such an authentic part of the Titanic story and indeed the history of Belfast.

“The Pump-house has survived remarkably well for more than 100 years in a very harsh environment but it is in much need of repair and any further decline would represent a major risk to its future – so our first priority is to restore the building and bring it back to its former glory while maintaining and securing its long-term future.”

Once completed, visitors to the Pump-House will ‘clock in’, as workers did a century ago, to view the workings of the distillery and hear the story of Belfast’s whiskey tradition, why it disappeared and how it has returned with the city’s first working whiskey distillery in more than 100 years.

“In the days before prohibition, Belfast was once the largest producer of Irish Whiskey on the island of Ireland,” said Titanic Distillers director Peter Lavery.

“Whiskey has played an important part in the history of our city. We want to revive this great distilling tradition and bring Belfast back to the forefront of Irish Whiskey production, while at the same time telling the story of a glorious past when Belfast led the way globally – not just in shipbuilding but across many areas of industry, manufacturing and innovation.

“We are excited to tell this story through our whiskey and our vision to develop the Pump-House to create a truly authentic experience that will allow visitors to feel they were really there.”

The Titanic Pump-House is within walking distance of Titanic Belfast, the world’s biggest Titanic exhibition center and Northern Ireland’s number one tourist attraction, clocking up more than 800,000 visitors per annum in the days before Covid-19.

Also resident in the Titanic Quarter is the SS Nomadic tender ship which ferried passengers to the ill-fated liner, and HMS Caroline, a decommissioned C-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy that saw combat service in the First World War and served as an administrative center in the Second World War.