Local People

The Shipyard of Harland & Wolff

The present shipyard of Harland & Wolff can trace its history back to 1853 when the Belfast Harbour Commissioners agreed to the establishment of an iron shipyard for Robert Hickson on the Queen's Island site in Belfast.
This shipyard was later taken over by Edward Harland and through the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries it was to become the biggest shipyard in the world. This was in no small part to the endeavours of the four Directors of this famous shipbuilding yard. The four Directors were Sir Edward Harland, Gustav Wolff, Walter Wilson and William Pirrie.

Sir Edward Harland

Edward Harland was born in Scarborough, England in May 1831. His father was a medical Doctor, who had a keen interest in engineering. The young Harland was apprenticed to Robert Stephenson & Co. in Newcastle and then offered a job at the Govan shipyard on the Clyde.
In 1854 he moved to Belfast to work as General Manager in the newly formed shipyard owned by Robert Hickson, and within 4 years he was to buy Hickson out for a sum of £5,000. In 1858 his first ship the Venetian was launched.
In 1861, one of Harland’s financial backers suggested that he engage Gustav Wolff as a personal assistant, and the following year 1862, saw Wolff taken on as a full partner and the name of the shipyard changed to Harland and Wolff.
Harland was Mayor of Belfast for 1885 and 1886. He was created a baron in 1886 and was also a Member of Parliament from 1887 to 1895. He died suddenly on 24th December 1895 while in County Fermanagh and is buried at the Belfast City Cemetery.


Gustav Wilhelm Wolff

Gustav Wolff was born in Hamburg, Germany in November 1834, his father was Moritz Wolff and his mother Fanny Schwabe. At the age of 14, Wolff moved to live in England to further his education and in 1850 he was apprenticed to Joseph Whitworth and Co. of Manchester. He moved to Belfast to work as a draughtsman in the shipyard of Robert Hickson. His uncle G.C. Schwabe, who was a backer of Edward Harland suggested to Harland that the young Wolff be taken on as a partner in the firm. Wolff introduced Mr J.J. Bibby of the Bibby Shipping Company and Mr Thomas Ismay of the White Star Line to Edward Harland.
In 1892 he became less involved in the running of the shipyard and became a Member of Parliament and sat unopposed for five General Elections. In 1911 he was granted the Freedom of the City of Belfast.


William James Pirrie
William Pirrie was born in Quebec, Canada on 31st May 1847. Due to the death of his father his mother returned to Northern Ireland, and they lived in Conlig, County Down. At the age of 15 Pirrie joined the shipbuilding firm of Harland & Wolff as a gentleman apprentice. He worked his way up through the company and in 1894 he was made Chairman of the Yard. He is buried at the City Cemetery, Belfast. He was married and had no children.


Walter Henry Wilson
Walter Wilson was the fourth partner in the shipyard. He was born in Belfast in November 1839 and was the first gentleman apprentice taken on by Robert Hickson in his shipyard. He was to prove himself as a skilled draughtsman and engineer, and in 1874 he along with William Pirrie was made a Partner in the shipyard.


Alexander Carlisle

Alexander (Alick) M. Carlisle was the Head Designer in Harland & Wolff when the Olympic and Titanic were ordered. He was responsible for coordinating the designs, his main area was the equipment used on the ships. Alexander Carlisle retired from Harland & Wolff in 1910. He gave evidence at the Board of Enquiry in 1912 regarding the designed lifeboat capacity of Titanic. He was Lord Pirrie's brother-in-law.


The Guarantee Group

A group from Harland & Wolff accompanies each new ship on it's maiden voyage. This one was led by Thomas Andrews. Their job was to repair any small jobs and be on hand to assist or answer the crews' questions.


Thomas Andrews LOST
See Own Page on Menu under Thomas Andrews


William H.M. Parr LOST

William Parr was born in 1882 in Horwich, Lancashire, England. He joined Harland & Wolff in 1910 as Assistant Manager in the Electrical Department.


Roderick Chisholm LOST

Roderick Chisholm was born in 1872 in Dumbarton, Scotland. He had worked for Harland & Wolff at their Clyde works before moving to Belfast. He was Chief Draughtsman at Harland & Wolff.


Anthony Wood Frost LOST

'Artie' as he was known held one of the prestigious posts in the Shipyard, "Foreman". Artie was born in Belfast in 1874 and began working in Harland and Wolff as a machine boy in 1888 before becoming an apprentice fitter in 1889.
His daughter was President in the Ulster Titanic Society until she passed away.


Robert Knight LOST

Robert was a leading hand fitter with Harland and Wolff. He started in the Shipyard in 1891.


Francis Parkes LOST

Frank was employed in Harland and Wolff as an apprentice plumber.


William Campbell LOST

William Campbell (photo is from when he was 11 years old).
William was employed in Harland and Wolff as a an apprentice joiner.


Alfred Fleming Cunningham LOST

Alfie was employed in Harland and Wolff as an apprentice fitter.


Ennis Hastings Watson LOST

Ennis was employed by Harland and Wolff as an apprentice electrician.


The Crew

Herbert Gifford Harvey LOST

Herbert was employed with The White Star Line as Junior Assistant Engineer. He was born in Belfast and was educated at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen.


Dr John Edward Simpson LOST

Dr Simpson's family grave in Bangor.

John was born in Belfast in 1875, he had five sisters and his father was also a doctor.


Albert George Ervine LOST

Albert born was born in August 1893. He lived with his parents on Old Cavehill Road, Belfast.


William McReynolds LOST

Willie, lived with his parents and sister at Lagan Villas, Belfast.


Hugh J. Fitzpatrick LOST

Hugh was born in England. He lived at 171 Nelson Street, Belfast. He served his time at Harland and Wolff as a boilermaker.


James McGrady LOST

James (Hugh) came from Crossgar, Co Down. He was the last person to be buried at Halifax, grave number 330.

James McGrady's gravestone, Halifax, Canada.


Thomas Millar LOST

Thomas Millar was born in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim in 1882.


Matthew Leonard Lost

Matthew Leonard lived at 45 Chatwell, Belfast with his widowed mother and his sister.


Henry Philip Creese LOST

Henry was born in England. He had two addresses, one in Southampton and one in Stranmillis, Belfast. Henry served his time with Harland and Wolff.



May Sloan was employed with The White Star Line as a Stewardess. She was born in Ulster in 1884 and lived at Kerrsland Terrace, Belfast.


Joseph Beattie LOST

Joseph worked as a greaser. He lived 3 Isthmus Street, Belfast.

James Blaney LOST

Mr. Blaney worked as a fireman and he was from Ballycastle, County Antrim.


Hugh Calderwood LOST

Hugh worked as a trimmer. He lived at 6 Cargill Street, Belfast.


John Collins SURVIVED

John worked as a scullion boy and he came from 65 Ballycarry Street, Belfast. He gave evidence at the US Senate hearing.


Thomas Patrick Dillon SURVIVED

Thomas was born in Liverpool, but lived in Belfast. He worked as a trimmer. He gave evidence at the British Inquiry.


Thomas Graham SURVIVED

Thomas worked as a fireman. He lived at 28 Downpatrick Street, Belfast.


John Haggen SURVIVED

John worked as a fireman. He lived at 49 Thorndyke Street, Belfast.


James Heslim LOST

James was born in Cork. He lived at Jonesborough, County Armagh. He worked as a trimmer.


Robert Hopkins SURVIVED

Robert worked as an Able Seaman. He address was 4 Woodstock Road, Belfast.


William McQuillan LOST

William worked as a fireman. He lived at 79 Seaview Street, Belfast.


William Murdoch SURVIVED

William worked as a fireman. He lived at 78 Thorndyke Street, Belfast.
Strange that two people from the same street in Belfast survived!


Archibald Scott LOST

Archibald worked as a fireman. He lived at 262 Conway Street, Belfast.


Wilfred Seward SURVIVED

Wilfred was born in London and was the Chief Pantry man (2nd class). He moved to Ballymoney, County Antrim in 1954.


W. Swann LOST

Mr. Swann worked as a bedroom steward. Unknown address in Belfast, but according to the Articles of Agreement his place of residence was Belfast.


Richard Turley LOST

Richard worked as a fireman. He lived at 12 Lettuce Hill, Divis Street, Belfast.


The Passengers

Thomas Morrow LOST

Tommy was traveling to the USA and he came from Rathfriland Island in County Down.


Pastor John Harper LOST

Born in Scotland, he had preached many times in Ulster, especially East Belfast where Titanic was built.


Wyckoff Van der Hoff LOST

The only paying passenger from Belfast. Reported by the Belfast Newsletter and the UK national newspaper The Daily Mirror. Does this mean Titanic's maiden journey was from Belfast to Southampton?!


Not to be forgotten
15,000 worked in the Shipyard of Harland and Wolff, all of these played a part in the construction of Titanic.
While everyone remembers the passengers and crew who died that fateful night, let us not forget Titanic's first victims.
Samuel J. Scott, Catch - Boy, 15 years old.
John Kelly, Heater-boy, 19 years old.
William Clarke, Driller, 27 years old.
James Dobbin, Shipwright
Robert James Murphy, Rivet counter