When it comes to famous shipyards, the most famous one in the world is located in Belfast, Ireland. The shipyard became famous when it was behind the construction of three ships that would live in infamy, and one of them in particular would change the world. The name of this famous ship was the RMS Titanic, and her design and construction took place right in this Irish shipyard. Over the years, Harland and Wolff has gone through many changes in his search to become part of the modern world, but not all of them were successful. When faced with the possibility of being closed, someone threw the famous shipyard a lifeline, and now thanks to his rescue, the shipyard will go on. However, little is known about this shipyard, and the story behind its creation is a fascinating one that is almost as interesting as the ships this shipyard set adrift on the water.
1. The History of Harland & Wolff
The most famous shipbuilder in the world was first created back in 1861. The story goes, there were two young men with a dream, and they pooled their money together and headed for the United Kingdom. With very limited funds, Edward Harland and Gustav Wolff, brought a small shipyard on Queen’s Island called Hickson’s shipyard from its owner, Robert Hickson. After the purchase was done, the two young men became partners, and began building three ships for the Hamburg line. However, with this new contract to build Hamburg’s ships, came the opportunity to improve the way these new ships would be built. Wooden decks, which were considered weak, were now replaced with iron decks, making the ships themselves a lot stronger. Also, the overall design of the ships was improve by creating a flatter, wider bottom, which also made the ships have more capacity for passengers . These simple improvements to ship designs made Harland & Wolff made the shipyard a success, and the orders for more ships just kept on coming in.
2. The Building of the RMS Titanic
There is no ship more famous then the RMS Titanic, and Harland & Wolff got a lot of attention because of it. The construction of the most famous ship in the world, began on March 31, 1909. The building of the Titanic got a lot of attention because the idea of her not only being the biggest ship in the world, but unsinkable as well, garnered a lot of attention to the Harland & Wolff shipyard. The building of such a massive ship took over 3000 local Irish workers to build, and these men literally worked all the time to get the massive ship built as quickly as humanly possible. There were many times when the Irish workers were working all night on Friday night, then work over time into Saturday afternoon before the men were able to go home. Did all that hard work pay off? The answer is yes, all the overtime hours, and long shifts, did come to fruition because by 1910, the RMS Titanic was built, fitted out, and ready to sail the seas.
3. The Saving of Harland & Wolff
Faced with modern times, Harland & Wolff has had to do some reconstructing over its long history. During the 1980’s, Harland &Wolff had to consider other avenues, including branching out into other form of construction such as bridge building, and other forms of civil engineering. However, in 2003, the ship building came back into play when the shipyard was asked to build the Queen Mary 2, but that fell through and another company took its place and actually constructed the ship. Since that time, Harland & Wolff has been involved with alternative energy such as wind turbines. Though alternative energy is all the rave these days, Harland & Wolff was considered to be an aging dinosaur that was long past being extinct, and the possibility of the infamous shipyard closing was a real possibility.
However, Harland & Wolff was saved from bankruptcy by a company called InfraStrata, who is currently building an underground gas storage plant off of the coast of Country Antrim, which is part of the coast of Ireland. This news came as a relief, becuase Harland & Wolff deserved to be saved from bankruptcy, and now the future for this infamous shipyard has never looked brighter. The plans for Harland & Wolff now include increasing the workers from less than 100 to 400. According to the owners of InfraStrata, owning a shipyard is actually quite an advantage because it allows the company to build steel pipework, and ring them in, versus having to spend a lot of money buying parts aboard, which is going to give a boost to the Northern Ireland economy.
Harland & Wolff has been since 1861, and while the most famous shipyard in the world, has been known for the building of the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, trying to keep up with modern times has certainly not been easy. Just when the worst was about to happen, which is the company going bankrupt, it was saved by a company named InfraStrata. The plans for the company are now taking Harland & Wolff into an entirely new direction, the fact is that despite not necessarily building ships anymore, the future of Harland & Wolff looks brighter than it ever has before.