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William Ritchie (1756 - 1834)

In 1791 William Ritchie, a Scot from Saltcoats, Ayrshire, came to Belfast, brought over skilled workmen from Scotland and started a shipyard. He launched Hibernia, his first ship, on 7 July 1792, just a year after his arrival. Over the next 20 years his business prospered. Hugh Ritchie, Williamís brother, formed a partnership with Alexander McLaine, another Scot, and it was their firm, Richie & McLaine, which built and launched the first steam ship in Ireland. But it was William Ritchie who laid the foundations of Belfastís great shipbuilding industry.

Further reading: Michael Moss & John R. Hume, Shipbuilders to the World: 125 Years of Harland & Wolff (Belfast & Wolfsboro NH, 1986).

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