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Harland & Wolff Heritage

Belfast’s famous shipbuilding industry began with a Scot, William Ritchie, in the 1790s. Evidence of his shipbuilding operation at Clarendon Dock, near the offices of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, still exists today. It was the Commissioners who developed Queen’s Island, formed from reclaimed earth after the straightening and deepening of the channel into Belfast Harbour, as a shipbuilding centre. They encouraged iron ship builder Robert Hickson to establish a shipyard there in 1853. Within four years his manager, Edward Harland, bought him out. The young Englishman then formed Harland & Wolff with partner Gustav Wolff, with the financial aid of Wolff’s uncle, Gustav Schwabe.