The shipyard was formed in 1861 by Edward James Harland (1831–1895) and Gustav Wilhelm Wolff (1834–1913).
Harland and Wolff Built the RMS Titanic
Harland died in 1894 and William James Pirrie became chairman of the company.
In 1907 Thomas Andrews became the general manager and head of the draughting department during the period of constructing ocean liners.
Harland and Wolff built monitors and cruisers during World War I.
During World War II they built 6 aircraft carriers and 2 cruisers, as well as other naval ships. The workforce reached 35,000.
Twin Gantry cranes, Samson and Goliath were built in 1974 and 1969 respectively, and still dominate the Belfast skyline.
Overseas competition and the jet-age led to continuing problems and in 1977 the company was nationalized.
By 1989 business had declined and the number of employees had fallen to around 3000. The company was bought from the British government in a management/employee buy-out in partnership with the Fred Olsen, a Norwegian shipping magnate.
The new company was called Harland and Wolff Holdings Plc.
RMS Titanic was the second of three Olympic class ocean liners constructed at Queen’s Island (Titanic Quarter) in Belfast, N. Ireland by the shipyard Harland and Wolff. Her sister ships were the Olympic and Britannic.
At the time these were the largest ships in the world. To accommodate these massive liners during construction, Harland and Wolff converted three slipways into two larger slipways and added the Arrol Gantry, built by Sir William Arrol & Co.
The gantry was 228 feet high, 270 feet wide and 840 feet long, weighing more than 6,000 tons.
Her keel was laid on March 31st, 1909, 3 months after the keel of the Olympic was laid.
On 15 April 1912 RMS Titanic sunk after striking an iceberg, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 of the 2,223 people on board.