During the year 1861, the business Harland and Wolff was formed. Mr. Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, born in Hamburg during the year 1834, together with Mr. Edward James Harland born during 1831, formed the company. During the year 1858 the general manager during the time, Harland, purchased the small shipyard located on Queen's Island. He bought 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 mostly in the Bibby Line. The initial 3 ships that the brand new shipyard built were for that line. By being inventive, Harland made the business a successful venture. Amongst his well-known suggestions was increasing the ship's overall strength by replacing the upper wooden decks with iron ones. Moreover, he was able to increase the ship's capacity by giving the hulls a squarer cross section and a flatter bottom.
Harland and Wolff eventually experienced competitive pressures in regards to shipbuilding. They sought to broaden their portfolio and shift their focus. They chose to concentrate more on structural engineering and design and less on shipbuilding. The company also diversified into the areas of offshore construction projects, ship repair as well as competing for additional projects which had to do with construction and metal engineering.
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. In the 1980s, with the building of the Foyle Bridge, their initial venture into the civil engineering sector occurred.
The MV Anvil Point was the last shipbuilding project of Harland and Wolff to date. This was amongst six near identical Point class sealift ships which was built to be utilized by the Ministry of Defense. In the year 2003, the ship was launched, after being built under license from Flensburger, Schiffbau-Gesellschaft, German shipbuilders.