In the year 1861, the company Harland and Wolff was established. Mr. Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, born in Hamburg during 1834, together with Mr. Edward James Harland born in the year 1831, formed the company. During 1858 the general manager at the time, Harland, purchased the small shipyard situated on Queen's Island. He bought the property from his employer, Richard Hickson.
When Harland purchased Hickson's shipyard, he then made his assistant Wolff a partner in the company. Gustav Wilhelm Wolff was the nephew of Gustav Schwabe of Hamburg. He has invested mainly in the Bibby Line. The initial 3 ships which were made by the brand new shipyard were for that line. By being innovative, Harland made the business a successful undertaking. Among his well-known ideas was increasing the overall strength of the ship by replacing the upper wooden decks with iron ones. In addition, he was able to increase the capacity of the ship by giving the hulls a squarer cross section and a flatter bottom.
The business eventually experienced increasing pressures in the shipbuilding sector causing them to broaden their portfolio and shift their focus. They decided to focus more on structural design and engineering and less on shipbuilding. The business even diversified into the areas of ship repair, offshore construction projects as well as competing for more projects that had to do with construction and metal engineering.
These other interests led to Harland and Wolff building a series of bridges in Britain and in the Republic of Ireland. These bridges consist of the restoration of the James Joyce Bridge and Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge. During the 1980s, their first foray into the civil engineering sector occurred with the construction of the Foyle Bridge.
The MV Anvil Point was the last shipbuilding project of Harland and Wolff to date. This was amongst six almost identical Point class sealift ships that was built to be utilized by the Ministry of Defense. The ship was launched during the year 2003, after being built under license from German shipbuilders Flensburger, Schiffbau-Gesellschaft.