Harland and Wolff - Shipbuilding and Engineering Works

Hamilton Dock

In 1864-67, the Harbour Commissioners constructed the Hamilton Dock and Abercorn Basin at the south end of the Island. The dock was named after James Hamilton, chairman of the Commissioners from 1867 to 1875. It was a graving (dry) dock, in which vessels were floated in, the dock entrance sealed and the water then pumped out to enable access to their hulls. This did away with the need to haul the boats out of the water, as was the case with the patent slip. The basin was named after the Marquis of Abercorn, who opened both new facilities in October 1867. The Hamilton Dock complimented the Commissioners’ two existing dry docks on the Co Antrim side of the Victoria Channel, opened in 1796 and 1826.

The water was kept out of the dock by means of a hollow caisson. It comprises an iron lattice framework sheeted with wrought-iron plates and decked with timber. It measures 65ft 4in long by 13ft 6in wide at deck level and curves out to a maximum width of 20ft 8in. Its bulbous appearance gives it the semblance of a miniature ship’s hull and it is recorded as ship 50 in Harland & Wolff’s ships list. It was launched on 4 June 1867 and delivered in July.