These adverts provide fascinating glimpses of shipbuilding and marine engineering on Queen's Island over six decades.


Harland & Wolff, pioneers in the design and construction of large diesel powered motor passenger vessels, signed a lucrative license agreement with the Danish company Burmeister & Wain giving them access to this new means of propelling large vessels. The first of this revolutionary type of vessel was Royal Mail’s Asturias (Yard No. 507) which entered service in 1926.

The ‘motorship look’ - streamlined profile, squat funnels with a cruiser stern - was an instant success with shipowners and the public alike and a whole series of vessels appeared;
the largest and most notable being Britannic III (Yard No. 807) in 1930 and Georgic II
(Yard No. 896) in 1932, the last White Star liners to be built.


In 1924 Harland & Wolff opened new works at North Woolwich, London on the banks of the River Thames. Initially the Company planned to concentrate on the construction of small craft such as river barges, hoppers and tenders (over 900 craft were built, many constructed for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Co. Ltd.). But in the late 1920s and early 1930s the engineering and repair facilities of the works were rapidly expanded in order to meet the demand from the large number of passenger ships using the Port of London and regularly calling at Tilbury.
The advertisement above was published in January 1935.


The three advertisements above illustrate the launch and trials of the 27,002-ton Union-Castle liner Capetown Castle (Yard No. 986). The motor ship was launched on 23 September 1937. She departed Belfast on her trial voyage, 31 March 1938.

The motorship, powered by a pair of massive ten cylinder Burmeister & Wain diesel engines was intended for the Southampton-South African service. The choice of diesel, rather than steam, as a form of propulsion was proved without doubt by the great economies of operation and the increased speed obtained.

The launch of Royal Mail Lines’ Andes (Yard No. 1005) on 7 March 1939 stood as a record for the largest vessel to go down the ways in a British shipyard for the year. The liner was delivered as a troop transport in September 1939. After the war she returned to Belfast for conversion to a passenger liner and finally entered passenger services in January 1948. 

Next... the 1940s