Harland and Wolff, Belfast, United Kingdom
When Harland died James Pirrie became Chairman and under his leadership the great White Star liners OLYMPIC TITANIC and BRITANNIC were built. He died in 1924.
In 1912, the company acquired 3 small yards at Govan in Glasgow making them into one big yard. Across the river the yard of A and J Inglis was also absorbed.
A new East Yard was opened in Belfast in 1918 on the eastern side of the Musgrave Channel. During World War 2 the workforce was estimated at 35000. The immediate years following the end of the war were as for many other UK yards a boom time but decline set in towards the end of the 1950s with the rise of foreign competition particularly from Japan. This resulted in the closure of the Glasgow yards in 1962.
A massive modernisation took place in the late 1960s when a building dock was completed with the now familiar cranes Samson and Goliath towering over allowing the building of VLCCs including 333,000 tonners for Shell. The yard became part of nationalised British Shipbuilders in the late 1970s.
The company was bought from the British Government in 1989 by Fred Olsen and built tankers and offshore oil related vessels. They also diversified building the new Foyle Bridge and assisting in other projects.
Harland and Wolff's last ship was ANVIL POINT for the MoD completed in 2003.
Belfast's skyline is still dominated today by the two cranes one of which has been brought back into use. Parts of the yard are to be redeveloped and included in this is a TITANIC Heritage Centre.
Ship repair work however is still carried out and in 2007 the bow section of a container ship MSC NAPOLI which had grounded off Cornwall was taken there to be broken up.
Sadly Harland and Wolff will only be remembered in general for TITANIC and less for the other 80 or so ships they built for White Star or the other fine ships both merchant and naval which came from the building berths. The first engines aft passenger liner SOUTHERN CROSS was built in 1955 for Shaw Savill and of course P&Os beautiful CANBERRA in 1961. There were also many others for Union Castle and Royal Mail Lines and many warships including aircraft carriers and cruisers one of which, HMS BELFAST is preserved in London. One of the first so called supertankers, MYRINA was built for Shell in 1967.
Coincidentally, another Harland built passenger ship MAGDALENA foundered on her maiden voyage in 1949 but without loss of life.
With thanks to Paul Strathdee
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