During 1861, the company Harland and Wolff was formed. Mr. Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, born within Hamburg during the year 1834, together with Mr. Edward James Harland born during the year 1831, formed the business. In the year 1858 the general manager at the time, Harland, bought the small shipyard situated on Queen's Island. He purchased the property from Robert Hickson, who was his employer.
Harland at one time bought 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 mainly in the Bibby Line. The first 3 ships that the brand new shipyard built were for that line. By being innovative, Harland made the business a successful venture. Among his well-known suggestions was increasing the overall strength of the ship by replacing the upper wooden decks with iron ones. Moreover, he was able to increase the ship's capacity by giving the hulls a flatter bottom and a square cross section.
The company eventually experienced increasing pressures in the shipbuilding industry causing them to shift their focus and broaden their portfolio. They decided to focus less on building ships and more on structural engineering and design. The business also diversified into the areas of offshore construction projects, ship repair as well as 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 the Republic of Ireland and in Britain. These bridges include the restoration of both Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge and the James Joyce Bridge. During the 1980s, with the construction of the Foyle Bridge, their first venture into the civil engineering sector happened.
Today, the last shipbuilding project of Harland and Wolff was the MV Anvil Point. This was one of six almost identical Point class sealift ships that was constructed to be used by the Ministry of Defense. In 2003, the ship was launched, after being constructed under license from German shipbuilders Flensburger, Schiffbau-Gesellschaft.