The main restoration work on RMS Titanic's tender should be complete by January, 2013.
The organisation behind the scheme has promised she will open as a visitor attraction at Easter, 2013, to coincide with the annual Titanic Festival.
Joiners and plasterwork craftsmen work meticulously to restore the fine interiors of the Harland & Wolff-built steamship, which ferried passengers from the harbour at Cherbourg, France, to the doomed liner.
Outside, thousands of cobble-stones have been placed in position as part of the restoration of Hamilton Dock at Titantic Quarter.
The pumps in the original pump-house on the nearby quayside have also been restored, in order that visitors will be able to see them in action through a glass floor panel, lit with fibre optics.
Nomadic is the last remaining White Star Line vessel and was saved from the scrap-yard in 2006, when she was bought at auction in France by the NI Department for Social Development.
Dr Denis Rooney CBE, chairman of the Nomadic Charitable Trust, said that when the tender opens as a visitor attraction she will be managed by the SS Nomadic Trading Company, overseen by the Trust.
Dr Rooney was appointed CBE in 2008 for services to Economic Development and to the community in Northern Ireland.
Last year the restoration work began, when Harland & Wolff was appointed to undertake steelwork repairs on the vessel it had built a century earlier.
The £2 million contract involved recreating the missing bridge and flying bridge decks, hull repairs and a paint-work in its original White Star Line livery.
Dr Rooney added,
The upper deck is going to be used to interpret the Nomadic as it was in 1911. As visitors come on board, a virtual barman will introduce them to the ship and tell them what they are about to see. The second-class area and upper deck will tell the stories of some of the people involved with the Nomadic at the time.
In the stern of the lower deck there will be stories of people associated with Nomadic throughout her 101-year history - from her days as Titanic's tender, to her stint as a troop carrier in World War I; the years carrying stars such as film star Charlie Chaplin as she served the Cunard liners; and her retirement from sea to the Seine in Paris, where she became a floating restaurant.
Next door, in second-class, there will be a display charting her years in Paris. Visitors will then move down into the engine-room.
The next section will tell the story of how SS Nomadic came to be rescued from the scrapyard and brought back to the city where she was built, and in the bows will be an interpretation of the crew quarters.
Up on deck will be a table where people can try their hand at navigating SS Nomadic towards Titanic. Dr Rooney commented,
As you can see, we’re going to be using every inch of it. The link to the Titanic is a very significant part of the Nomadic story but it is only a part of the story. There has been a lot of interest in its role as a troop carrier. This has been a very complex project but there have been no problems found on the ship that couldn’t be sorted. The hull was pretty much intact, there was no significant rot, nothing that was particularly expensive to fix.
The team is beginning to look to the future and the next phase, such as potential restoration of the caisson gate, a listed structure used to control the flow of water in and out of the dry dock.
- 50 tons of steel were used by Harland & Wolff during the restoration
- 150,000 rivets were used to restore the superstructure
- 115 cubic metres of wood were used in restoring the interior of the Nomadic
- 230 tons of cobbles were required to create an authentic 1911 dockside