The two great canary yellow-painted gantry cranes are icons of the Belfast city skyline are known as Samson and Goliath.

Goliath is the smaller crane measuring 96m (315ft) high began work in 1969 and Samson, the larger at 106m (348ft), five years later. They were designed by the German firm Krupp-Ardelt and can lift loads of up to 840 tons.

The cranes are named after the biblical figures. Samson was the last of the judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Book of Judges. Goliath is a character in the  Book of Samuel, described as a Philistine giant defeated by the young David in single combat.

Now much beloved Belfast landmarks, their own future was assured in 2003 when they were scheduled for preservation.

Harland and Wolff were still one of the world’s great shipbuilders at the time they were built and Harland & Wolff employed 35,000 employees but in the years following the cranes’ construction the workforce and business declined. The last ship to be launched at the yard to date was a ferry in 2003.

Since then the yard has focused on ship repair, offshore construction projects (e.g. wind turbines, oil rigs) and competing for other projects to do with metal engineering and construction.

Samson & Goliath were also the name and characters in American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for NBC in the 1960s.