For over 150 years, Belfast Harbour Office has been the headquarters of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, the body responsible for the operation of the Port of Belfast. This impressive Italianate building opened in 1854 and incorporates a conspicuous clock tower that was used to regulate the punctual sailing of passenger steamers.
The Harbour Commissioners were originally drawn from Belfast’s Ulster-Scots merchant class and they played a key role in the economic growth of the town. In 1791, they invited a Scot, William Ritchie, over from Ayrshire to establish Belfast’s first shipyard. Within a generation, Ritchie had put Belfast at the forefront of Irish ship building. The Harbour Office stands on the site of Ritchie’s original yard. Clarendon Dock, a dry dock built by Ritchie, can still be seen beside the building.
The Harbour Commissioners also developed Queen’s Island, where Harland and Wolff later established. It was from here that Harland and Wolff launched many of the ships they built for the White Star Line, including the great liners, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic.
Corporation Square, Belfast, BT1 3AL
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