New Light on the Titanic
As a child going to school in Comber, Sandra Gilpin was fascinated by a monument she passed each day on her way to primary school.
This was the Andrews Memorial Hall, built to commemorate Thomas Andrews, the Chief designer for Harland and Wolff, builders of the Titanic, who went down with the ship in 1912.
Now Sandra is to give a talk, New Light on the Titanic, at the meeting of the Unitarian Historical Society on 5th April during the General Assembly's annual meetings at Keele.
Her interest lies in those of the directors of Harland and Wolff who were members of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland, and were Unitarian in their theology.
She will focus particularly on two men Thomas Andrews himself, who came from a Comber family and his uncle, William James Pirrie, who was chairman of Harland and Wolff from 1895 to 1921. He was prevented by illness from joining the ill-fated voyage.
Sandra is less interested in the tragic-romantic story of an 'unsinkable' ship than in the liberal religious background of the great Belfast shipbuilders.
The title of her talk 'New Light on the Titanic', reflects the name 'New Light' given to Irish Presbyterians who objected to the mandatory subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith required in the 1820s from ministers and elders of the Presbyterian Church.
A leader of the group who rebelled was the Reverend Henry Montgomery of Dunmurry - the ancestor of both William Pirrie and Thomas Andrews.
The talk is scheduled for 3.45pm on 5th April in the Diane Strasser Room, Keele University Chancellor Building.
Sandra is the wife of Ian Gilpin, the minister of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church at Comber