Not many know that Robinson’s Bar in Belfast is home to some of the most compelling finds in the entire city. The historic bar, which stands abreast to the popular Crown pub and opposite the Grand Opera House, has been in operation since 1895.
In this charming old-world saloon, visitors will find memorabilia from the RMS Titanic, the ill-fated ocean liner that was built in Belfast and sank on its maiden voyage to the United States in the early hours of 15 April 1912, after colliding with an iceberg.
Somewhere between 1,490 and 1,635 lives were lost on the “unsinkable ship,” and its memory has been forever immortalised by the 1997 hit film Titanic, as well as by the interactive museum Titanic Belfast, located in the city.
Within the walls of Robinson’s, authentic memorabilia can be admired for free, offering a genuine slice of history.
Care for a preview before you visit? Here are five items of Titanic memorabilia you’ll find in this Belfast bar.
5. Jewellery box
A jewellery box that was designed to commemorate and celebrate the Titanic’s successful sea trials and launch in Belfast harbour can be seen on display at Robinson’s.
The perfectly preserved jewellery box is framed to ensure its integrity, and the hand-painted facade looks as fresh as on the day it was done.
Beauty and preservation aside, this is a sombre display of the belief and pride people held in the ship and its future course.
4. Launch ticket
One of the most poignant items of Titanic memorabilia you’ll find in this Belfast bar is an authentic launch ticket for the Olympic-class ocean liner.
These tickets would have been issued to those who had paid to be part of the audience in the viewing stand for the launch of the ship. This event happened in Belfast less than a year before it left the harbour.
At the time, no ship would have even come close to its size or strength. The Titanic was marketed worldwide, and the launch of it—as well as its maiden voyage—was an event that captured the world’s attention.
The ticket reads: “Launch of White Star Royal Mail Triple Screw Steamer Titanic at Belfast, Wednesday 31 May 1911 at 12.15pm.”
To be in the ship’s presence was to be a part of history. It comes with great sadness to know that at the time, people didn’t realise in what way this great ship would be remembered.
3. Life jacket
A replica life jacket that is stitch-for-stitch in accuracy compared to the real ones used aboard the Titanic can also be seen in Robinson’s Bar.
This life jacket is, in fact, a prop that was used during the sinking scenes in the 1997 James Cameron film Titanic, which starred Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
While this prop may be of particular interest to fans of the cult classic film, it also offers a stark close-up look into the reality those aboard the Titanic faced as the ship went down.
2. Letters from the lost
A letter from a steward aboard the Titanic, Richard Geddes, sparks an emotional note in the display at Robinson’s Bar in Belfast.
Richard wrote the letter to his wife, Sal, on Titanic-headed paper just days before the ship met its destiny.
He opens with tenderness—“My dearest Sal”—and expresses his contentment at the ship’s progress. Geddes assures his wife that he has been “feeling pretty good” and that he will soon write, once they land in New York.
He sends love to Sal and their children, signing off, “Your affectionate husband Dick xxxxx.”
Geddes was lost at sea when the ship sank.
1. Philomena, the Titanic doll
One of the most chilling pieces of Titanic memorabilia you’ll find at this Belfast bar is Philomena, the Titanic doll.
It remains reported that Philomena was found floating in the icy waters by a passing boat after the ship had sunk. Amidst the debris, this Victorian doll, clad in a lace dress, was spotted.
The doll came to media attention some years later when the family, which had her in their care, decided to donate the doll in a church ballot.
This is definitely the most explicit piece of memorabilia in the collection, offering a stark bridge between the present and the past.