At the time of its construction The Thompson Dock was the biggest Dry Dock in the world, built for the biggest ships in the world. RMS Olympic was the first ship docked here in April 1911, followed later by her sister ships Britannic and Titanic. The Dock was named after Robert Thompson who was Chairman of the Harbour commissioners at the time. The Dock was always left dry, in readiness for the next ship. It would then be flooded and the gate ‘stabled’. Next, the ship would be hauled in, the gate replaced in position and the dock pumped until the water was drained out and ship rested on the keel blocks down the centre of the dock floor. When work was completed on the hull of the ship, the gate would be opened, the water would fall back in and the ship would be pullded out.
The Pump-House held the offices of the Deputy Harbour Master and his engineers. There was also a Mess room upstairs for the Pump men, fitters, electricians & hydraulics personnel employed here. The Pump-House consists of a very deep pump-well (40ft or12m deep) which houses the pumps & engines which are capable of draining both docks. Three pumping engines, each of 1000Horse-Power, were installed. These could pump the dock dry in 100 minutes, removing an astounding 23 million gallons of water.
The War Memorial
The First World War memorial on the side of the Thompson Pump House was designed and made by the Northern Irish artist Sophia Rosamond Praeger (1867-1954).The shipyard war memorial was commissioned by Frank Workmanand his wife to commemorate the men from their Belfast shipyard who had fought in the Great War, and especially their only son Edward Workman, who had been one of the managing directors of the shipyard, and who had died from wounds sustained in action on the 26 January 1916.The memorial was unveiled by Sir Edward Carson on the 8 August 1919. The inscription above the memorial reads, ‘Eternal Honour giver Hail and Farewell to those who died in that full splendour of heroic pride that we might live. In memory of the officers and men of the Belfast Shipyard who fell in the Great War 1914-1918’.After the closure of the Workman, Clark & Co shipyard, in September 1935, the First World War memorial was relocated to the Thompson Pump House where it can be seen today.