Hamilton Graving Dock was continuously in use with ships being repaired, serviced or fitted out. It was leased by the Harbour Commissioners to Belfast's two main shipyards, Harland and Wolff and Workman Clark, as well as to ship owners.
Most ships received an annual service in a dry dock. Ships were bring made bigger and bigger from the mid-1860s onwards and in 1871, only four years after Hamilton Dock was finished, there were calls from Belfast's ship-builders for a larger graving dock.
Alexandra Graving Dock opened in 1889, and Thompson Dry Dock, where 'Titanic' was fitted out, was finished in 1911. By this time Belfast had the largest shipyard in the world.
[Illustration captions, from top to bottom, read]
Above Celebrations at the opening of Alexandra Dock in 1889
Below Europa in Hamilton Dock
· Left: Overlaid cross sections of No.2 Graving Dock, Hamilton Dock, Alexandra Dock and SS Olympic docked in Thompson Dock. The steady increase in the size of the dry docks reflected the requirements of Belfast's shipyards which were building ships bigger than ever before.
· Thompson Dock was the largest graving dock in the world when this photograph was taken in 1911
By 1911, Belfast had the largest shipyard in the world.
[Photo caption reads]
Olympic in Thompson Dock, 1911