During the year 1861, the company Harland and Wolff was established. Mr. Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, born within Hamburg during 1834, and Mr. Edward James Harland born during the year 1831, established the business. During the year 1858 the general manager during the time, Harland, bought the small shipyard on Queen's Island. He purchased the property from Robert Hickson, who was his employer.
Harland at one time purchased Hickson's shipyard and made his assistant Wolff a partner in the business. Gustav Wolff was Gustav Schwabe of Hamburg's nephew. He has invested heavily in the Bibby Line. The initial 3 ships that were constructed by the brand new shipyard were for that line. By being innovative, Harland made the company a successful undertaking. One of his famous suggestions was increasing the ship's overall strength by using iron for the upper wodden decks. In addition, he was able to increase the capacity of the ship by giving the hulls a flatter bottom and a square cross section.
The business eventually faced increasing pressures in the shipbuilding sector causing them to shift their focus and broaden their portfolio. They chose to concentrate more on structural design and engineering and less on shipbuilding. The company even diversified into the areas of ship repair, offshore construction projects and competing for additional projects that had to do with metal engineering or construction.
These other interests led to Harland and Wolff constructing a series of bridges in Britain and in the Republic of Ireland. These bridges comprise the restoration of both Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge and the James Joyce Bridge. During the 1980s, with the building of the Foyle Bridge, their first foray into the civil engineering sector occurred.
The MV Anvil Point was the last shipbuilding job of Harland and Wolff to date. This was amongst six almost identical Point class sealift ships that was constructed for use by the Ministry of Defense. In 2003, the ship was launched, after being constructed under license from German shipbuilders Flensburger, Schiffbau-Gesellschaft.