News from 1913: Death of Gustav Wolff


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Mark Baber

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The Times (London), 18 April 1913

OBITUARY
---
MR. G. W. WOLFF
---
Mr. Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, for long a partner in Messrs. Harland and
Wolff, of Belfast, died yesterday at his residence in Park-street, W.
He underwent an operation on Tuesday.

The son of Mr. Moritz Wolff, a Hamburg merchant, he was born in that
city on November 10, 1834, but at the age of 14 he left Germany to
continue his studies at Liverpool College. His father had resolved that
he should enter the profession of engineering, and at the close of his
student days the lad was apprenticed to Messrs. Joseph Whitworth and
Co., a Manchester firm with an extensive reputation for tools and
machinery. He soon won the confidence of his employers, and in 1855,
before he had completed his 21st year, he was chosen to represent the
firm at a stand which they had at the Paris Exhibition. Later he was
employed as a draughtsman by Messrs. Goodfellow and Co., of Hyde, and he
went to Belfast to act in a similar capacity for Messrs. Hickson and
Co., the then owners of the Queen’s Island shipping yard. At that time
only about 200 hands were employed, whereas now there are over 15,000.
In 1860 the works of Messrs. Hickson were taken over by Sir (then Mr.)
Edward Harland, with Mr. Wolff as manager. Two years later Mr. Wolff
was admitted a partner, and he continued his connexion with the firm up
to a few years ago. Up to the last he showed the keenest interest in all
the affairs connected with the Queen’s Island works, the prosperity of
which in a considerable measure was due to his indomitable energy and
business enterprise. He had the distinction of securing from the White
Star Company the first order placed by that firm with Messrs. Harland
and Wolff, and the association thus begun has since proved to be of the
greatest benefit to Belfast. He was chairman of the Belfast Ropework
Company (Limited), of which he was one of the founders, and in this
connexion the city also largely benefited.

For 18 years Mr. Wolff represented in the House of Commons the East
Division of Belfast in the Conservative and Unionist interest,
discharging his duties faithfully and conscientiously and being
unremitting in his efforts to further the interests of the community.
His constituents, even those who might differ from him in political
matters, found him ever ready to consider any subject they might bring
under his notice. His only contest was at a by-election in March, 1892,
when he first contested the division. On that occasion he was opposed
by Sir William Charley, Q.C., who stood as an Independent Conservative,
but he beat him by over 2,100 votes. Since then there has not been a
single contest. Mr. Wolff was retained unopposed on five occasions, and
on his retirement in December, 1910, he was succeeded by Mr. R. J.
McMordie, the present Lord Mayor of Belfast. Mr. Wolff was entertained
by his old constituents, who made him a presentation, and the
Corporation unanimously voted him the freedom of the city.

Mr. Wolff was a generous contributor to the funds of many of the
charitable institutions of Belfast, notably the Ulster Hospital for
Women and Children, while the Orange and other bodies benefited by his
munificence. His favorite recreations were shooting and fishing. He
was a member of the Carlton, Junior Carlton, and Garrick Clubs in
London, and of the Ulster and Union Clubs in Belfast. Since his
retirement from Parliament he lived almost entirely in London, rarely
visiting his Belfast residence, The Den Strandtown, which he had made
his home during the long period of his active association with the city.
Mr. Wolff was a bachelor.

Out of respect to his memory the flag at the City Hall was flown at half
mast yesterday, and at a special meeting of the Belfast Corporation
Committee a resolution was passed expressing deep sympathy with the
relatives and admiration for Mr. Wolff’s independence and nobility of
character.

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