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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Cranes to remain on city skyline
Shipyard cranes
The cranes define the city's skyline
The giant Samson and Goliath cranes at Belfast's shipyard are to remain part of the city's skyline.

Even though Harland and Wolff is no longer one of the world's great ship building firms, the dry dock at Queen's Island is to be preserved, it was announced on Thursday.

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

The cranes, which are over 300 ft high, have been "scheduled" under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 which ensures that any action to alter or change them would need consent.

Goliath was built in 1969 and is temporarily out of action because of refurbishment work. Samson was erected in 1974. They can carry loads of up to 840 tonnes.

Harland and Wolff once employed more than 30,000.

It now has a labour force of just 130 and is involved in ship repair and conversion work, ship design and bridge building.

Two bridges for the N7 road south of Dublin are currently being built at the yard.

Dublin's James Joyce Bridge and the new Ha'penny Bridge were also built there.

The last ship to be launched at the yard was a roll-on roll-off ferry in March.

The minister said: "I am committed to doing everything within my power to protect our heritage.

"If we want to keep these monuments on our skyline, then it is vital that we act now."

Michael Coulter of the Environment and Heritage Service said the cranes were a landmark for visitors to the city.

"There's historical and engineering significance, and visually, it's an extremely important statement as well on our entire cityscape of Belfast," he said.

"It's on our bank notes as well."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Rosy Billingham reports
"The cranes are symbols of Belfast's industrial history"



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