SoundYard at night photo Matthew Kernan
SoundYard at night photo Matthew Kernan

Belfast’s SoundYard Inspired by Historic Shipyards

Can you imagine what the Harland & Wolff Shipyard must have been like in the early 1900s as thousands of men sweated day after day, starting from the ground up to create the massive Titanic ocean liner?

a ship being built Belfast's SoundYard
Construction of the Titanic in the gantry, which took place between 1909 and 1911. Photo: Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff. Public Domain,

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The clanging of metal was just one of the familiar sounds coming from this industrious workspace.

You can imagine just that when a cool new installation called “SoundYard” is unveiled on Belfast’s Maritime Mile.

Activated by motion sensors, this newest Belfast tourist attraction, which is currently under construction, is being made from a series of lightweight metal tubes suspended from a timber structure.

Belfast's SoundYard will consist of hanging chimes that echo and reflect the noises that would have come from the nearby shipyard where the Titanic was built.
A rendering of Belfast's SoundYard that visitors will see up-close later this year. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

The beautiful all-weather structure will be located beside the SSE Arena and W5 Science and Discovery Centre in the city’s Titanic Quarter.

What to See on Belfast's Maritime Mile

Belfast's Soundyard, a free attraction, will be one more addition to the Maritime Mile, which showcases Belfast’s revitalized waterfront area and gives visitors a glimpse of how the industrial powerhouse of Belfast emerged in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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The Titanic Dock and Pump House. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

Things to look out for along the Maritime Mile include the historic Clarendon Docks and Sailortown.

This was Belfast’s first waterfront village that was recently revitalized to reveal its beautiful cobblestone streets.

It is also where you will find the iconic St. Joseph’s Church, used by many Belfast natives until it was deconsecrated 20 years ago due to a dwindling congregation.
The Belfast Harbour Commissioners Office Building. Photo: By Erl Johnston – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Other notable sites include the Belfast Harbour Commissioners’ Offices, where you will find an interesting historical exhibition on the ground floor, including audiovisual displays and touchscreens telling the story of this historic harbor area.

The Presbyterian Sinclair Seamen’s Church, a Venetian-style harborside building has been refurbished and is another tribute to Belfast’s seafaring traditions.

Some of the highlights in this building include its beautiful stained glass, the bell from the HMS Hood, a Royal Navy ship that was the first of four battlecruisers built for use during World War I, as well as a number of lifeboat-shaped collection boxes.

A walk across the Lagan Weir Footbridge will bring you to the city’s most successful tourist attraction, Titanic Belfast.
The SS Nomadic at the Titanic Quarter. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

You can also step on board the SS Nomadic, known as Titanic’s Little Sister, as well as the HMS Caroline, the last remaining ship from the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

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a large lighthouse light Belfast's SoundYard
The Great Light on the Maritime Mile in Belfast. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

Other attractions along the Maritime Mile include the Great Light, one of the world’s largest lighthouse optics, as well as the massive Thompson Dock, which served as the footprint for the Titanic and where she last sat on dry land before tragically going down in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912.

a shipping dock Belfast's SoundYard
The Thompson Graving Dock at Titanic Quarter in Belfast. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

You can walk or cycle the Maritime Mile or take a self-guided tour with the help of a map.

a map Belfast's SoundYard
Maritime Mile map courtesy of the Maritime Mile.

Several tours are available in the area. They include the following:

  • Belfast Mic Tours – a guided cycle tour of the Titanic Quarter and Belfast city center.
  • Lagan Boat Tours– a guided boat tour that tells the story of Belfast’s rich maritime heritage. Includes a visit to the seal colony at the Musgrave Channel.
  • The Discovery Tour at Titanic Belfast – walk in the footsteps of the men who designed and built the Titanic, learn about the historic drawing offices where the first plans were unveiled, and much more on this 1-hour guided tour that will compliment your visit to Titanic Belfast.
  • The Wee Tram – based on the tram cars that ran through the shipyard during the Titanic era. Enjoy a guided tour of the historic shipyard, including the Pump-House and Dry Dock, HMS Caroline, and more.
  • Titanic Tours Belfast by Susie Millar – this tour is from the perspective of Susie Millar’s great grandfather, Tommy Millar, a deck engineer on the Titanic. Tommy was among those who died when it sank.
  • Titanic Walking Tours – take a private walking tour or a group tour and discover where the Titanic was designed, launched, and dry-docked, in addition to the history of this unique area of Belfast.

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