Developed in conjunction with:
Shipbuilding was one of Belfast’s key industrial successes. The Titanic was famously built in Belfast (for better or for worse), and the iconic Harland and Wolff cranes still tower high on the city’s landscape.
The lives of those working in the docks and shipyards was often beset with life-threatening injuries and serious threats to health, such as inhaling asbestos.
The Epidemic Belfast team worked with SHIP (Shared History Interpretative Project), a group established in 2006 to record a living history of Belfast dockers, their families, the port and its connected industries and communities. It showcases and promotes the historical contributions made by dock workers that established Belfast as a world renowned industrial and maritime city.
As part of our 2023 AHRC funding, Rhianne Morgan (University of Luxembourg) collated a number of oral histories which captured the experiences of the workers, with an emphasis on injury and health.
James (Jim) Austin, born in 1933, grew up in Carrickfergus. His father worked at the docks, as did Jim throughout his working life.
Liam Hamill, born in 1950, grew up in Carrick Hill, who started worked on the docks, working initially alongside his father. For most of his life, Liam continued to work on the docks.
Terry Ward, born in 1953, grew up in a working-class area near Short Strand. Initially finding work in the local fruit market, Terry then spent much of his life working on the docks.
Brian Quinn, born in 1957, grew up in Sailortown. In this interview, Brian discusses the history of life in Sailortown, as well as the work of SHIP (Shared History Interpretative Project).
John McGuigan recalls life growing up in Belfast and his adult working life on the docks.