Iconic Harland and Wolff cranes are historic monuments

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With Harland and Wolff shipyard facing an uncertain future, many will be left wondering what is to become of the iconic yellow cranes that have defined Belfast’s skyline for half a century .

The twin gantry cranes, known locally as Samson and Goliath, are famous the world over and have become cherished symbols of the city’s once-proud shipbuilding heritage.

Harland and Wolff shipyard

Harland and Wolff shipyard

However, with the shipyard now in jeopardy after failing to find a buyer, there are fears that the giant structures could be left to languish – or worse, face being demolished.

The News Letter asked the Department for Communities what protection, if any, the cranes have to prevent them from being torn down.

The department confirmed that the structures are ‘Scheduled Historic Monuments’ under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995.

They were Scheduled in October 2003.

A spokesperson said: “This designation means that any proposal to alter or remove the cranes would require Scheduled Monument Consent from the Department.

“The department seeks to work with all owners of heritage assets to identify ways that such assets can continue to be used, conserved and appreciated.”

Samson and Goliath, situated at Queen’s Island, have dominated the city’s landscape for generations.

Designed by the German engineering firm Krupp, Goliath was completed in 1969 and Samson, in 1974.

Goliath stands 96m tall, while Samson is taller at 106m.

At the time of their construction, Harland and Wolff was one of the largest shipbuilders in the world.

Famed for building the doomed White Star liner Titanic, which sank on its maiden transatlantic voyage in 1912 after striking an iceberg, Harland and Wolff was one of the UK’s key industrial producers during the Second World War, supplying almost 150 warships.

It employed more than 30,000 people during Belfast’s industrial heyday, but now the workforce only numbers around 130.

It has diversified away from shipbuilding in the last two decades and until recently had primarily worked on wind energy and marine engineering projects.