Yep that was me, invading your airwaves again yesterday as part of Talkback on BBC Radio Ulster.
And a very historic instalment of Talkback it was: the first time a live radio show had ever been broadcast from HMS Caroline, the beautiful (if slightly rusty) old World War One warship moored deep in the Titanic Quarter alongside the Science Park. The purpose of the programme was to draw together opinions and ideas for the ship’s future: as one of the most historically significant vessels still afloat anywhere in the world, it seems slightly insane that it’s lying unused and unloved behind some intimidating barbed-wire fencing.
I thought it was a great broadcast – the overwhelming majority of callers, textures and contributors could see a tremendous future for Caroline – myself included. Whether or not the Dock plays any part in her future (and that’s a possibility which would be very exciting to explore), there are limitless exciting possibilities for the future use of such an atmospheric and evocative old ship. The first hurdle, however, is to make sure that she stays in Belfast (where she has been moored since the 1920s) – as the Portsmouth Naval Heritage Museum would also be interested in providing a home for her. If you’d like to add your voice to that campaign, click here.
In the meantime, if you’re interested to find out more about HMS Caroline, guess where you need to go….?! The ship itself is completely off-limits to visitors, so currently the best Caroline information anywhere in the world, I believe, is in Dock Cafe.
One of the local photographers whose work is on display in the Dock, Roger Eager, managed to get exclusive access to the ship to take some photographs just before she was decommissioned – a fascinating and unique visual record of the ship. The images are on display along with some information about Caroline and even a few artefacts from the ship. You won’t find anything like it anywhere in the world!
Dock Cafe, eh? You just can’t beat it!