THE historic shipyard that built the ill-fated Titanic has itself sunk into insolvency.
Owners of Harland and Wolff chartered a course of business recovery in a bid to save their ailing company – but it has failed to keep it afloat.
Now the insolvency of the 158-year-old, Belfast-based shipbuilder is putting 123 jobs at risk.
As insolvency fears gathered pace in recent weeks, workers launched a “Save Our Shipyard” campaign.
It echoed the actions taken by a different generation of colleagues across the North East and Yorkshire when their own shipbuilding heritage sailed into financial difficulties.
Their campaigns against closure proved unsuccessful, as shipbuilders dominating the Tyne one-by-one fell by the wayside, changing the skyline forever.
This had a huge impact on North East shipbuilding communities living and working in Scotswood, Elswick, Newcastle, Gateshead, St Peter’s, Quay, High Walker, Low Walker, Hebburn, Wallsend, Jarrow, Willington Quay, Howdon, Coble Dene, North Shields and South Shields.
Yorkshire’s shipbuilding fame from a bygone age – centred on Whitby and the vessels that took Captain Cook on his voyage of discovery – is also consigned to history.
In their heyday, Newcastle and Whitby were the country’s most productive shipbuilding centres outside of London.
And it was a similar story for Harland and Wolff, which employed more than 35,000 people at its peak in the 1940s – a far cry from today as it enters administration.
Its insolvency signals a sad end to a company that achieved worldwide fame as the world’s most prolific builder of ocean liners.
That included the Titanic, whose story was turned into a cinema blockbuster that launched the careers of Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio, as they re-lived the iceberg tragedy that struck its maiden voyage.
Sadly, news about its insolvency is not a Hollywood script, but a stark reminder of the real-life financial challenges facing one of the UK’s most historic and important industries.
Only 712 people out of the 2,207 travelling aboard survived the sinking of the Titantic. Whether Harland and Wolff will become another victim associated with the ship it built, or whether a buyer can be found to overcome its insolvency and ensure its survival, remains to be seen.
Here at Walsh Taylor, when financial difficulties arise, we’ll put time on your side.
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