The former Harland & Wolff shipyard office building is a three storey building, clad in red sandstone blocks and brick. The offices were built in phases between 1900 and 1919. The main frontage extends along Queen's Road, with a return at each end of the building at right-angles to Queen's Road. Behind, in the enclosed space are two drawing offices. Along with the drawing offices the buildings housed Harland and Wolff's administrative functions.
The Harland & Wolff shipyard built ships for many shipping companies but it was their relationship with the White Star Line that produced some of the most famous merchant vessels in the world, including the Olympic class liners Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. The design work by Harland & Wolff for the liners was carried out in the buildings on Queen's Road.
The offices remained in use until October 1989, but are now vacant and have fallen into disrepair. A concept for future use would see them converted to a boutique hotel. Today, in their faded, dilapidated state they are a poignant reminder from the early history of the great Belfast shipyard, Harland and Wolff. Seen behind the offices is the new Titanic Signature Project, Titanic Belfast, which opened in 2012.
The Queen's Road frontage is formed of four blocks. The left-most block is a four-bay frontage, ten bays deep, clad in red brick. The ground floor brick work has horizontal-banded rustication, with four rectangular windows set beneath a cornice. The windows of the first and second storeys are set beneath a plain entablature with a projecting cornice. Above, the roof of the block is fronted by a balustraded parapet.
The second block on Queen's Road is formed of nine bays of paired windows, with the paired windows to the first and second storeys separated by plain pilasters, with rectangular capitals. The ground floor windows are arched with a projecting key stone and are set beneath a projecting cornice. Above the second storey the windows are topped with a plain entablature, with corbels supporting a projecting cornice and, above, a balustraded parapet.
The first two bays on the ground floor give way to an entrance way to the rear of the building, accessed via wrought iron gates of two narrow outer gates and two wider central gates, separated by ornately decorated gate piers. A large doorway is found in the seventh bay; double-doors with an arched fanlight with panelled pilasters either side, with an open pediment above.
The third block mirrors the styling of the first, again comprising four bays with a rusticated ground floor and plain brick work above on the first and second storeys. The fourth block of five paired bays again mirrors the styling of the second bay and is eight paired-bays deep.
The two drawing offices set behind the main frontage are large double height spaces, each with a barrel vaulted ceiling. Large windows are set into the end wall of each drawing office, with tall rectangular windows on the ground floor and arched windows above. There are further arched windows at the base of the barrelled roof, with further windows set into the vaulted roof. The windows flood the drawing offices with natural light.
In 1912, adjacent to the offices was a massive steel gantry, the Arrol Gantry, built over slipways 2 and 3 to allow the building of the Olympic class liners. The gantry covered an area 840 feet on length by 270 feet in width and the gantry itself was estimated to weigh 6,000 tons. Elsewhere, the Queen's Island yard was covered with workshops where everything from boilers, engines and machinery to joinery and furniture were made for the new White Star liners. Large items such as the engines and boilers were lifted aboard the liners by a 200-ton floating crane, owned by the shipyard.
- Belfast Visitor & Convention Bureau (2013) Harland & Wolff Headquarters Building & Drawing Offices Belfast: http://visit-belfast.com/things-to-do/member/harland-wolff-drawing-offices
- Culture Northern Ireland (2008) Workman and Clark Belfast: Culture Northern Ireland, http://www.belfastgalleries.com/article.aspx?art_id=796
- Culture Northern Ireland (2009) Shipbuilding in Belfast Belfast: Culture Northern Ireland, http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article/413/shipbuilding-in-belfast
- Hood, A. G. (ed.) (1911) 'The White Star Liners "Olympic" and "Titanic".' In Marine Publications International Ltd (1988) Olympic & Titanic: Ocean Liners of the Past Northamptonshire: Patrick Stephens Ltd
- Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (2012) Facts and Figures, Titanic: 100th anniversary Belfast: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/Titanic_Centenary_2012.pdf
- Ulster-Scots Community Network (2011) Belfast Shipbuilders Belfast: Ulster-Scots Community Network, http://www.ulster-scots.com/uploads/shipbuilders.pdf