On This Day

24 December

flag

1895 Death of Edward James Harland


Click to enlarge

Sir Edward James Harland, Bart., MP., died suddenly this morning at his country residence Glenfarne Hall, near Enniskillen, County Leitrim. Edward Harland was sixty-four years old and was the head of the shipbuilding firm of Harland & Wolff famous for having designed and constructed many of the most important ocean liners in the world. He left school at an early age and was apprenticed to Robert Stephenson, the famous engineer, and worked for some time, as he himself put it ‘for the very useful wage of £1 a week.’ After three years’ employment as a journeyman, he received the offer of the post of manager of a small Belfast shipbuilding yard and ultimately bought out his employer, whose ideas were not progressive enough for the young shipbuilder. In 1859 the works covered just 1½ acres and by the time of his untimely death the shipyard had expanded to 80 acres on Queen’s Island; and while during the first five years of ownership he turned out 30 vessels, averaging 1,540 tons, in 1894 about sixteen vessels were launched, a total of 313,225-tons. The number of men employed in the works was about 9,000 and the wage bill averaged £13,000 per week.
Sir Edward for the greater part of the year lived with his wife Lady Rosa at his London residence Baroda House, in Kensington Palace Gardens, he was twice made Lord Mayor of Belfast and ten years before a Baronetcy was conferred on him by Prime Minster Lord Salisbury.
The legacy of his creative and engineering genius outlived the man and he is fondly remembered to this day in his adopted City.

flag

1958 The last Union-Castle liner built by Harland & Wolff


Click to enlarge

The 28,5582-ton passenger and cargo ship Pendennis Castle (Yard No. 1558) was launched today for the Union Castle Mail Steamship Company. The vessel was ordered in 1953 as a replacement for the aging Arundel Castle (Yard No. 455) completed in 1921.

In 1956 Union-Castle was acquired by the British & Commonwealth Shipping Company. The new owners decided to improve and enlarge the vessel even though she was already in build. The subsequent installation of Denny-Brown stabilizers required the lengthening of the hull at amidships and adding another 18 feet to the overall length.

A shipyard strike caused the postponement of the launch until 24 December when she was went down the ways without ceremony, ending, on an unhappy note, a sixty-five year history of shipbuilding and marine engineering for the Union-Castle Line at Belfast.

flag

1878 Christmas Eve launch

The 1,650-ton cargo ship Shahjehan (Yard No. 122) was launched today for the Asiatic Steam Navigation Company, Liverpool.

flag

1889 Christmas Eve launch

The 4,202-ton cargo ship Gaekwar (Yard No. 219) was launched this morning for Thomas & John Brocklebank, Liverpool (Brocklebank Line). The vessel along with her sister ship Ameer (Yard No. 218), launched on 24 August of the same year, were both intended for the East Indian trade. Her dimensions were: Length, 400 feet; Breadth of beam, 45 feet. She was fitted with the latest improvements for the rapid handling loading and discharge of cargo.