Eleanor Celebrates 'Titanic' Birthday in White Star Style

28th April

Artefact, Birthday, Harland & Wolff, RMS Titanic Today, Eleanor Thompson, whose father was Chief Interior Draftsman for RMS Titanic and travelled on board as part of the Guarantee Group from Belfast to Southampton, visited Titanic Belfast ahead of her 100th birthday celebrations which are set to be held in our event suites this weekend!

Eleanor Thompson pictured with her great grandson
Eleanor Thompson pictured with her great grandson as they look at a picture of her father Ambrose Willis

The 100 year old’s father, Ambrose Willis, the man behind Titanic’s beautiful carved wooden fireplaces and paneling, features in one of the artefacts on display in the Titanic Experience – a paybook of Harland and Wolff employees, which helps tell the story of not only Titanic but the city and people that built her.

The artefact with her father’s signature will take pride of place at Eleanor’s birthday party, which will see visitors travel from as far as Australia to take part in the milestone celebration.
Harland & Wolff Paybook Artefact on Display at Titanic Belfast
H&W Paybook on display in the Titanic Experience

Eleanor Thompson, recalled, “There is no doubt that my father loved his job and was very proud of the work he did. All the furniture for RMS Titanic was built in what we called ‘The Yard’ here in Belfast and that’s what my father oversaw! When I watch James Cameron’s TITANIC or visit Titanic Belfast – I look out for the woodwork, including the famous staircase, fireplaces and panelling as I know that’s what my father worked on! He used to come home smelling of varnish and paint. He even travelled on board Titanic to Southampton but had to return to Belfast as Olympic, her sister ship was on the stocks. He was fortunate he had to return – or otherwise I may not have been born in 1916 and wouldn’t be celebrating my 100th birthday at Titanic Belfast this weekend!”

Eleanor’s eldest son Peter, who travelled from Australia to be part of the celebrations, said, “It only seems fitting to celebrate my mother’s milestone birthday at Titanic Belfast, Northern Ireland’s most iconic building, given our family’s connection to RMS Titanic and Harland and Wolff. With the Paybook artefact set to be on display at the party –  it is a great honour that we are able to showcase this to my mother’s guests with the help of team at Titanic Belfast.” 
Ambrose Willis, Chief Interior Draftsman for RMS Titanic
Ambrose Willis, Chief Interior Draftsman for RMS Titanic

Tim Husbands MBE, said, “Belfast, being the home of Titanic, were it was built, designed and launched, has such a strong personal connection to the ship. This is epitomised in Eleanor’s story and her memories of her father. It is a very special occasion to have 100th birthday party here at Titanic Belfast, but this is especially true for Eleanor as the daughter of Chief Interior Draftsman who travelled on board the ship. 

At Titanic Belfast, we have welcomed guests including Her Majesty the Queen but our staff equally loved having Eleanor visit and hearing her stories about her father and the Yard at Harland and Wolff! They are very much looking forward to hosting her 100th birthday party!”


Find out more about hosting an event at Titanic Belfast, or discover more of the Titanic story by visiting the Titanic Experience and SS Nomadic - the world's last remaining White Star vessel and the largest Titanic artefact in the world. 

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