In August, the administrators were called in to one of the UK’s most famous shipbuilders, Harland & Wolff Ltd, of Belfast, which was described at one time as the greatest shipyard in the world.
It had employed 51,000 people during the Second World War compared with 26,000 in peacetime, but on its final day on Aug 4, there were just 125 people.
The administrators were the accountants BDO, and the shipyard was owned by Dolphin Drilling, part of the Fred Olsen Group, of Norway.
After talks with the administrators, Northern Ireland MPs claimed on Aug 20 that two “valid and credible bids” had been made for the company.
In its history, the company had operated four shipyards on Queen’s Island, Belfast, and also at yards on the Clyde. The company had also owned major repair centres at Liverpool (Bootle), London and Southampton. It had also become one of the most famous companies for marine diesel engines.
Founded in the late 1850s by Edward James Harland, the yard’s first ship was the Venetian, 1,598 grt followed later that same year by the Sicilian, 1,492grt, and her sister Syrian, all three cargo ships being built for the Liverpool shipowners J Bibby, Sons & Co.
By the time the company ceased trading, it had built just over 2,000 ships, of all types and sizes.
Its most famous ship was the passenger liner Titanic, 46,329grt, built for the White Star Line, of Liverpool, and which sailed from Southampton on her maiden voyage on Apr 10, 1912, carrying 1,316 passengers and 890 crew. On April 15, near the Grand Banks, the Titanic, after striking an iceberg, sank with the loss of 1,503 passengers and crew.