William James Pirrie

(1847—1924) shipbuilder and shipowner

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(1847–1924), Viscount Pirrie, Belfast shipbuilder and shipowner. In 1862 he was apprenticed to the shipbuilding firm of Harland & Wolff. Twelve years later he was made a partner in the company, becoming chairman on Harland's death in 1895. Pirrie was concerned with improved vessel design, which included ways to facilitate port entry and to enhance passenger comfort; the latter process culminated in the building of luxury liners such as the Olympic and the Titanic. He excelled at salesmanship and developed links with international shipping lines, including the ill-fated International Mercantile Marine in 1902 and Lord Kylsant's Royal Mail group after 1918. Under his leadership Harland & Wolff became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world.


From The Oxford Companion to Irish History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: European History.

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