Festive lights on H&W cranes raise spirits at end of turbulent year
Just a few weeks ago, it looked like the lights at Harland and Wolff could be going out forever - but now Belfast's famous cranes have been lit up as a symbol of hope this Christmas.
Samson and Goliath, as the famous Harland and Wolff cranes are known, started twinkling earlier this week in celebration of the festive season.
The raising of the lights mark the end of a turbulent year for the shipyard which built Titanic.
It faced going out of business with the loss of 112 jobs, leading to a nine-week protest by defiant workers at the shipyard gates which attracted attention from around the world.
In the end, a successful bid by infrastructure company InfraStrata secured the future of the business.
Susan Fitzgerald of trade union Unite, which led the workers' protest, said the lights were a heart-warming sight.
"It's hugely hopeful and the workers were so pleased to see it happen," she said. "If it were not for the battle fought by the workers, there would be no Christmas lights - in fact, the lights would have gone out altogether for H&W."
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A series of bright white lights have been laid along the top of the cranes to join the ever-present red lights that form part of the machinery.
The cranes are classed as scheduled historic monuments. Needless to say, decorating a 300ft tall crane is not quite as simple as wrapping the lights around your Christmas tree.
However, construction firms around Belfast are rising to the challenge.
In the Clarendon Dock area, Farrans is also getting into the swing of things with its own illuminated Christmas crane.
"Farrans is delighted to be involved in the prestigious City Quays 3 project which highlights the regeneration of the Belfast waterfront," a spokeswoman said.
"We decided to light up the crane based on the site to mark the festive season and upbeat mood of the city."
And in the city centre, the Portuguese contractor behind the new University of Ulster campus has placed lights on its three cranes and access platforms, along with a banner wishing Belfast a Merry Christmas.
A spokesman for Sacyr Somague said: "We have decorated the Ulster University Belfast campus site to say thank you to the local community for supporting the project and to wish the people of Belfast a Merry Christmas."