Samson and Goliath – Belfast, Northern Ireland - Atlas Obscura

Samson and Goliath

These engineering masterpieces are a dominant feature of the Belfast skyline. 


These two massive gantry cranes can be found in the Harland and Wolff shipyard and are considered engineering masterpieces. They’re known locally as Samson and Goliath, and were modified to meet Harland and Wolff’s special requirements. The initials are also interpreted to stand for “Hello and Welcome,” and can be found throughout the city on a variety of souvenirs, from coasters to tea towels.

Goliath, the first crane to be completed, was finished in July 1969 and was largely constructed within the company. Samson was provided by Krupps and was completed in May 1974. Part of the fun of spotting these two metal giants is trying to work out which is which.

While the shipyard played a key role in the first and second world war, producing warships, Harland and Wolff will forever be synonymous with The Titanic, these cranes were not related to the famous ocean-going liner’s construction. However, Samson was actually involved in a disaster of its own. In 2007, Samson knocked into a smaller crane called Henson, toppling it to the ground and narrowly avoiding injuring workers nearby.

The yard built its last ocean liner, the SS Canberra, in 1961. 

Know Before You Go

This site is on the route of the Hop On Off offered by the City Tours Company. Though it doesn't stop at them, there is a narration giving their backstory and you do drive underneath them.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web