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SAMSON AND GOLIATH THESE GANTRY CRANES REALLY DO DOMINATE BELFAST CITY

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These cranes appear in a large number of my photographs and at times I am surprised from where they can be seen.

Samson and Goliath are the twin shipbuilding gantry cranes situated at Queen's Island, Belfast, Northern Ireland. The cranes, which were named after the Biblical figures Samson and Goliath are landmark structures of the city. Comparative newcomers to the city, I originally thought that they were at least a hundred years old, the cranes rapidly came to symbolise Belfast in a way that no building or monument had hitherto done.

At its height Harland & Wolff boasted 35,000 employees and a healthy order book, but in the years following the cranes' construction the workforce and business declined. The last ship to be launched at the yard to date was a roll-on/roll-off ferry in March 2003. Since then the yard has restructured itself to focus less on shipbuilding and more on design and structural engineering, as well as ship repair, offshore construction projects and competing for other projects to do with metal engineering and construction.

Initially there was concern that the now largely redundant cranes would be demolished. However, they were scheduled as historic monuments under Article 3 of the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

Northern Ireland Office Minister of the time Angela Smith stated: "These cranes are an essential part of our city, our roots and our culture."

The cranes are not, technically, ‘listed buildings’, but are recognised by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency as buildings of ‘architectural or historic interest’.

Shipbuilding has ceased in Belfast, but the cranes are to be retained as part of the existing dry dock facility within the restructured shipyard, situated adjacent to the Titanic Quarter, a business, light industrial, leisure and residential development on land now surplus to the heavy industrial requirements of the shipyard on Queen's Island. They were still (2015) kept in working order and used for heavy lifting by Harland & Wolff in its other activities, however the company ceased trading in 2019.

ST PATRICK'S BALLYMACARRETT CHURCH OF IRELAND PARISH CHURCH NEWTOWNARDS ROAD

This image demonstrates just how much the Harland and Wolff cranes Samson & Goliath dominate the Belfast skyline.

According to contacts in Belfast the Newtownards Road is generally safe and well lit at night. One potential flashpoint is the interface with the nationalist Short Strand neighbourhood. Though fairly well kept and safe during the day, it is best to avoid this area at night.

According to a local that I had a chat with this large Church of Ireland Parish Church was rebuilt after the War to the original plans, having been destroyed in the Blitz.

Here is an extract from the churche's mission statement: Due to the extensive redevelopment and the ’Troubles', the demography of the area has changed enormously in recent years and is still grappling with regeneration. This may explain why I found the area to be more than a little bit confusing.

Ballymacarrett or Ballymacarret (from Irish Baile Mhic Gearóid 'MacGearóid's settlement') is the name of both a townland and electoral ward in Belfast. The townland is in County Down and the electoral ward is part of the Titanic district electoral area of Belfast City Council.

The ward was created in 1973 with most of the population coming from the former Pottinger ward. The ward was slightly enlarged in 1985, taking in part of the Island ward.

The ward consists of two distinct districts : Ballymacarrett itself, which is almost entirely Protestant, and the Short Strand which is almost entirely Catholic, with the two separated by a peaceline. Consequently, in the 2001 census, the Roman Catholic community background figure was 51%.

Set in the shadows of the Harland and Wolff cranes Samson & Goliath, large numbers of local men worked in the shipyard during its heyday. The area is also well known for 'Ulster's Freedom Corner', a series of loyalist murals.

Ballymacarrett and the nearby Newtownards Road played a key part in what became known as the 2011 Northern Ireland riots. At first, the riots were only located in the area and were known as the 2011 East Belfast riots but by July, the riots had spread to other parts of the region.
THE ORIGINAL WAS DESTROYED IN THE BLITZ

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