28 February 2010


From the The Florence Times, Florence, AL, on this day in 1956:

Vandals Hit Liner

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) - Vandals have scarred and gouged decks, furniture and cabin walls aboard the Queen Mary.

The 81,000-ton ship is undergoing annual overhaul here.

The vandalism occurred over the weekend while workmen were away.

Other news sources reported that leather stool tops in the observation bar were slashed, offensive words written on walls, and a sharp instrument was used to inscribe the name of a popular cartoonist on a valuable painting in the smoking room.

An investigation was launched on February 29. No arrests were reported.


27 February 2010

If You Say So

From "News Behind the News - The National Whirligig" in The Evening Independent of St. Petersberg, FL, on this day in 1937:

SIT-DOWN. King Edward may be dead, politically, but the gallant spirit of his kingship moves through the lower decks of the ship named in honor of his mother - the Queen Mary.

The former king, as every informed person knows, did not lose his scepter over Mrs. Simpson. She was simply an occasion and a pretext. Britain's invisible government - the great economic interests - forced him out because they feared that they could not control him. And it was his comments upon dedicating the Queen Mary which first aroused their fears and suspicion.

The then king rambled through the great liner. He noted the comforts and luxuries provided for paying passengers, and contrasted them with the crews' quarters, where the sailors had to stand while they ate their food and drank their grog. This and similar comments cost Edward his crown, but they forced the Cunard line to install seats for its sailors. Thus Edward appears to have been a sit-down monarch in a big way!

26 February 2010

A Classic On Board

Aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary on this day in 1953: Howard Hawks, director of classic films like Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, The Big Sleep, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Mr. Hawks was on his honeymoon.


25 February 2010


From the Montreal Gazette on this day in 1931:


Nearly 250,000 Expected to Benefit Indirectly From 73,000-Ton Contract


Considerable interest is being aroused by the latest progress report on the new 73,000-ton Cunard liner, which should be launched from the shipyards of John Brown & Co., Limited, early next summer. It is expected that she will be completed and delivered to her owners before September, 1933. The keel has been laid and hull plates have been cut and prepared for placing in position.

About two thousand workers will be engaged on the construction of this liner at Clydebank by the end of this year, the majority of whom will be employed steadily until the contract is completed. Another thousand should be provided with work in the shipyard itself from time to time, bringing the total to 3,000 actually being engaged in building the ship. It is estimated, however, that nearly a quarter of a million persons will benefit directly or indirectly as a result of the order placed by the Cunard Steamship Company for this, the largest liner in the world.

Apart from men in the shipyard, thousands will be engaged in making hull and boiler plates, and in supplying internal fittings for berths, cabins and public rooms. Over four hundred beds will be required, 30,000 pieces of silverware have been ordered, 60,000 pieces of cutlery will be fashioned in Sheffield, and the chinaware and glassware are expected to stimulate trade in the pottery industry. Electricians will have to thread over a hundred miles of cables and wires through the ship, while joiners, upholsterers, marble workers, plumbers, and a host of other tradesmen will be employed to supply their quota of essential or luxury appointments. It is estimated that $15,000,000 will be expended in subcontracts.

In addition to labor engaged in building the ship and in providing equipment, the Clyde Trustees are spending about $400,000 in widening and deepening the river to facilitate the launch and despatch [sic] of this mammoth vessel. The Southern Railway Company are building a graving dock at Southampton specially for
her accommodation, which will be 1,200 feet in length, 45 feet wide and have an entrance width of 135 feet. Both these tasks will absorb many workers.

Getty Images circa 1931: Men working on the cast steel frame of the new Cunard liner at Clydebank.

24 February 2010

Converting Dining Spaces to Restaurants...?

From The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, on this day in 1970:

Queen Mary Project Still Far From Final Completion


LONG BEACH, Calif (AP) - Back in 1967, this Southern California port city plunked down $3.45 million for the aged - but still glamorous - liner Queen Mary and figured on building an instant tourist empire. It is still a long way from its dream.

The idea was that by chipping in another $5 million or so for renovaiton [sic] the city could transform the liner into a royal museum and floating hotel.

Today the cost to the city has ballooned to $32 million and still not a tourist has stepped aboard the ship. In her present stripped condition the Queen is far from presentable and she may not be ready for another year.

What city officials didn't figure was that a first-class sea-plying ship does not make a first-class landslide tourist attraction - not without major alterations.

Alterations Needed

Originally the city planned to house museum exhibits in existing facilities of the famed British vessel, convert dining areas into restaurants and cabins into hotel rooms. But engineers who made a feasibility study reported that unless the ship was disemboweled there wouldn't be room for major extravaganza exhibits.

And, the report continued, the ship, purchases [sic] from the Cunard ship lines, needed to be connected to utilities:  it needed complex electrical wiring, an air-conditioning system, permanent linkage to the shore's sewage system and plenty of nearby parking.

"We were faced with a choice," recalls City Manager John Mansell. "We could have left the Mary in the shape she was and hoped that tourist interest in her would sustain itself. Or, we could turn her into a gala attraction - the kind people rave about when they get home. [sic]

Mansell cited these reasons for upping the ante:

First - the city could afford it. Unlike most cities of 350,000, Long Beach is oil-rich. It receives 15 per cent of state revenues from neighboring oil fields for a total of about $250 million over the life of the field. By state law, the money must be used for harbor or seashore improvement and the state lands commission has ruled the Queen Mary museum fits that requirement.

Business Interested

Second - the Queen Mary's potential as the nucleus of a tourist-convention complex awakened big business interest in the city. The prospect of 3.5 million visitors yearly brought feelers from many corporations about building hotels, commercial office buildings and the like in Long Beach. And such developments would produce new revenue that could be used for inner city development.

Third - undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau predicted that with proper alterations the Queen could house the largest maritime museum in the world. Her formed a company to design and build a museum that would tell the story in light and sound of the sea's potential, its inhabitants and history.

Originally the city's shipboard partner, Diner's Club Queen Mary Corp., was to pay for converting suites into hotel rooms, public areas into shops and dining areas into restaurants. The city was to pay for altering the ship's structure and fashioning a museum.

Diner's Club had proposed spending $3.5 million, but "like the city, we saw the advantages of upgrading the project," said president Fred Rosenberg.  "We've got some $10 million tied up in the ship and plan to spend millions more for related projects."

When the Queen finally is towed to her permanent home - a 16-acre landfill site at the tip of the city's 310 acre Pier J - her bow will face the mainland. Passengers on her starboard side will view the city's downtown convention area from across a narrow section of harbor where the Los Angeles River empties.

Protected from currents by a breakwater, the 1,019 1/2-foot-wide Queen will be the crown jewel of Long Beach's emerging skyline. An aerial tramway will connect her to the convention center, and a new bridge - the Queen's Way span - will bring freeway traffic directly to her.

Visitors will walk through a landscaped park to inclined walks and escalators leading to various decks.

The top six decks will include 403 hotel rooms, most of them completely rebuilt or combinations of old staterooms, as well as scores of specialty shops, meeting rooms and halls for conventioneers, bars and restaurants.

The museum will be housed on the lower six decks, in cavernous spaces created by removing such mammoth pieces of machinery as the ship's propellors, boilers and engines.

From museum admissions - the price is still undecided - commercial leases and parking fees as well as hotel bed taxes, the city expects to recover its full investment in about 14 years. The money is to be returned to the city's tideland's fund.

23 February 2010


From The Age on this day in 1956:

Better Quarters

LONDON. - Crew accommodation aboard the now 20-year-old Queen Mary will have been improved when the 82,000-ton liner sails from Southampton next month after her annual six-weeks refit, the "Daily Telegraph" said today. Some passengers' cabins have been converted to crew accommodation.

22 February 2010

Latest in Talkie Equipment

From The Evening Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario, on this day in 1936:

Forty Miles Per Hour 'All Out,' Great Speed Of Liner 'Queen Mary'

Secret at Last Revealed, and Giant Ship Is Confidently Expected to Wrest the Blue Riband of the Atlantic From the French "Normandie," Speed for Normal Service Will Be Reduced to 29 I-2 Knots.

LONDON (By Mail). - The great secret of the Cunard-White Star liner Queen Mary - her speed - is now revealed.

When she makes her maiden voyage across the Atlantic on May 27, the Queen Mary will average thirty-four knots - the highest speed ever attained by a commercial ship.

Even that will not be her maximum speed. Driven all out, the twenty-seven boilers and sixteen turbines will be capable of thrusting the Queen Mary's 73,000-ton bulk through the water at the equivalent of slightly more than forty miles an hour.

Confidently Expected to Beat Normandie's Record.

It is confidently expected that the blue riband will be won from the Normandie. The ship's speed for normal service will then be reduced to 29 1/2 knots.

The anchor chains for the Queen Mary, the biggest ever forged, were hoisted on board the other day. Each link has a circumference of fifteen inches, and is strengthened by a welded stud.

A stamp on every link shows that it has been thoroughly tested by an officer of the Board of Trade. The total weight of chain stowed in the ship's bows will be 150 tons.

Latest in Talkie Equipment.

The cinema installation - the sign that the liner is nearly complete - arrived at Clydebank recently. It is one of the most up-to-date talkie machines produced, and is similar to the units supplied to the big West End theaters.

Special precautions are taken to prevent unauthorized persons straying about the ship.

As each section of the accommodation is completed, it is virtually closed to all except shipyard executives and owners' representatives.

A system of permits has been introduced for the workmen, whereby each man will be confined to the particular part of the ship where he is working.

Machinery Tests

If he leaves, he will be challenged by a yard detective. This precaution has been taken to prevent damage to, or interference with, the valuable fittings in the public rooms and living quarters.

The machinery, which was intensively tested, has been examined for any possible flaw. Both main engines and auxiliaries have come through their trials with complete success, and the propellers have been recoupled.

21 February 2010

Hooray, Ironing!

Reported in the Eugene Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon, on this day in 1946: Mrs. Wyn Louise Boyle, formerly of England, told pressmen upon her arrival that "The trip over on the Queen Mary was fun...There were a game room for the wives and nurseries for the children. The swimming pool was fixed up as an ironing room for us. We really were well taken care of."

20 February 2010

Almost Home

On this day aboard the Queen Mary in 1946 - war brides and their babies enjoy their last meal before disembarking in New York.

19 February 2010

R.M.S. Princess Elizabeth?

From Time on this day in 1934:

Business: Cunard-White Star, Ltd.

For the past year headline writers have been merging the Cunard and White Star Lines about once a week. Finally in the House of Commons last week came the official announcement of the union by his Majesty's Government of these two great North Atlantic shipping companies. For the time being the couple will be known as Cunard-White Star, Ltd., may later become British National Services. In the last five years British pride in the merchant marine has been roughly handled. Cunard's Mauretania, commissioned in 1907, is still the fastest British ship but her old records have been broken by Germany's Bremen and Europa, Italy's Conte dl Savoia and Rex. White Star's flagship Majestic is still the biggest ship afloat but soon she will be surpassed by France's Normandie. Balm for British pride lies on the ways of John Brown & Son's shipyard in Clydesbank, Scotland — Cunard's unfinished No. 534 (probable name: Princess Elizabeth), the skeleton of a 73,000-ton monster which will be "world's biggest & fastest" liner. Funds ran out and work was dropped on No. 534 two years ago. Last week, with the merger a fact, Neville Chamberlain loosened the strings of his Exchequer. For completion of No. 534 he promised the new company a loan of £3,000,000 (about $15,000,000). For working capital he promised advances up to £1,500,000 (about $7,500,000).

To the new company Cunard will turn over its fleet of 15 "ia" ships including Berengaria, Aqnitania, Franconia, Mauretania and what there is of No. 534. White Star will contribute its fleet of ten "ic" ships, including Majestic, Olympic, Homeric, Georgic and Britannic. In return Cunard will get 62% of the new stock and six directorships, White Star 38% and four directors. The Chancellor's soft voice was heard in the clause: "It is regarded by all parties hereto as a cardinal principle of the merger company that it is to be and remain under British control."

Still unsettled last week was Cunard-White Star's personnel. Until stockholders of the two old companies have a perfunctory opportunity to approve the deal, operation will be directed jointly by the two general managers. International Mercantile Marine expects to continue as U. S. agent for White Star until June 30, when combined offices will probably be established at Cunard's headquarters.

18 February 2010

A Traveling Party

From the Montreal Gazette on this day in 1965:

Well Earned: News comes from London that Lady Churchill, widow of the late Sir Winston, will leave next Wednesday for a well-earned vacation in the Barbados. She will be accompanied by her daughter and son-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Soames. The party will travel to New York on the Queen Mary and then fly to the Islands.

She is pictured above with her family in the late 1940s aboard the Queen Elizabeth.

17 February 2010

Actress Onboard

On this day in 1948, American actress Nancy Guild was aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary

In the 1940s and 1950s, Ms. Guild starred in such films as Somewhere in the Night and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. She's pictured here aboard the ship.


16 February 2010

A Brave Deed Rewarded

Reported in the New York Times on this day in 1936: E.J.R. Pollitt is named second officer of the R.M.S. Queen Mary.

Two years earlier, Pollitt led the rescue of the captain and crew of the sinking British freighter, Usworth, in the North Atlantic. Cunard White Star promoted the seaman from third officer and assigned him to the new ship in recognition of his bravery on that occasion.

15 February 2010


From the column "A Woman's New York," in the Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania, on this day in 1952:

Yoga for Coward. Authors and dramatists are always on the lookout for new themes around which to write books or plays. Probably Noel Coward, British playwright, found such a theme aboard the SS Queen Mary en route from London to New York and thence to his resort home in Jamaica, B.W.I. On the same boat as Coward came Hati Yogi L.S. Rao who can eat glass, walk on fire and water, and drink poison without harm to himself...Meantime, Coward spent a good deal of boat time with the Yogi, picking his brain, no doubt for his next play.

14 February 2010

Dressed to Sail

From etiquette expert Amy Vanderbilt's column in The Pittsburgh Press on this day in 1956:

"Dear Miss Vanderbilt: I am going to Europe, first class, on the Queen Mary. Do I have to take a formal evening gown for each night? I am traveling alone. - Mrs. J.A."

The first and last nights aboard ship are "don't dress" nights because on both of these days you are either packing or unpacking.

On the other three nights of the trip, especially if you are traveling alone, I would suggest two dinner dresses, and one evening dresses [sic] for the Captain's Dinner. The latter may be a short evening dress if you wish.

13 February 2010

Ready for All Our Meals

Excerpted from the column "Canadian Plowmen Abroad" by W.L. Clark in the Coaticook Observer, Sherbrooke, Quebec, on this day in 1948:

ABOARD THE QUEEN MARY:  After the excitement of preparing for our trip to Britain - packing, making sure our visas and tickets were in order, sight-seeing in New York, interviews with the press, radio broadcasts and many other activities - the "Champs" and I were happy to relax on board the illustrious liner Queen Mary.

On board the Queen Mary, each day's program was much the same. The passage was not rough but there was a heavy swell all the way, so much at times chairs were overturned and dishes broken. We stood the trip well, however, and were ready for all our meals. Each afternoon a movie was shown in the lounge which the passengers appreciated very much.

When we pulled into Southampton, a representative of Ontario House came on board and helped us through Cusoms [sic] and to the First special train for London.


12 February 2010

Big Four No More

A headline from the New York Times on this day in 1933:

WHITE STAR'S 'BIG 4' PASSING FROM SEAS; Celtic, Cedric and Baltic Gone and the Adriatic Is Expected to Follow Soon.

11 February 2010


Headline in the New York Times on this day in 1933:

Cunard Is to Resume Work On Giant Liner Says Herald

10 February 2010

A Man of Means by No Means...

From the Montreal Gazette on this day in 1938:

'Hobo King' Pays Fare To Sail on Queen Mary

New York, February 9. - (AP) - Jeff Davis, self-styled King of the Hoboes [sic], arrived in New York "on the rods" today and departed for England amid the streamlined luxury of the liner Queen Mary.

The rail-riding sovereign of North America's "Weary Willies" sailed to attend an international convention of hoboes [sic] "some place in England."

Jeff has a grievance. He's mad, he said, about the misunderstanding about "the most misunderstood man in North America." He meant the hobo. The hobo, it seems, is not a tramp and by no means a bum. There's a difference.

"A hobo is willing to work a little, and split what money he has," Jeff defined. "But a tramp - now, a tramp will never work and thinks the world owes him a living. A bum is a man who can't work."

Davis said that while he is abroad, he is going to attempt to have the English dictionaries give a true definition of the hobo.

The head man of the "willing to work a little" Bedouins said that while he was riding the rods last night from Chicago to New York, a hobo delegation met him at Altoona, Pa., and gave him a purse of $300 to pay his passage to Europe and back, third class.

"I wouldn't have taken it," he said, "if there was any way I could ride the rods on the Queen Mary."

09 February 2010

Traveling Solo

On this day in 1952, the Duke of Windsor was aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary on his way to England to attend his brother's funeral. King George VI died February 6.

The duke is pictured here with his wife, the former Wallis Simpson, before she departed the ship.


08 February 2010

Done Deal

From the New York Times on this day in 1934:

3,000,000 ADVANCE TO MERGED CUNARD; British Government, in White Star Deal, Assures Cash to Finish Big Liner.

LONDON, Feb. 8. -- The dream of a unified British steamship service on the North Atlantic became a reality today with the announcement in the House of Commons that the Cunard-White Star merger had been completed. It will become effective as soon as the shareholders of the two companies approve it. 

07 February 2010


On this day in 1953, Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle was aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary. Sir Frank was an inventor, along with Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain, of the jet engine.


06 February 2010

A First

From The Sydney Morning Herald on this day in 1936:


Innovation in the Queen Mary.

By Air Mail.

LONDON, Jan. 18.
The Queen Mary, Britain's great liner, which will make her maiden voyage in May, is to be the first ship in the world to have a synagogue. Other ships have rooms which are sometimes temporarily converted into synagogues, but in the Queen Mary the synagogue will be permanent, and the space will be used for no other purpose except Jewish religious worship.

The synagogue will hold about 50 worshippers. It will be some 20 feet square, and, although in miniature, will be complete in every detail. Inscriptions in Hebrew will be inlaid in wooden letters round the top of the panelling. Special wood has been brought from the dominions for this purpose. The ceiling will be in cerulean blue picked out in gold. The fittings will include a carved reading desk, and the Holy Ark in miniature, which will be made from oak, macassar, and ebony.

The Queen Mary's engineers have arranged for the Jewish Nair-Tomid, or perpetual Light of Remembrance, to be lit electrically on a special circuit so that it will never go out. The fitting holding the light is to be in hand-wrought bronze.

The temple is being arranged so that high festivals, as well as ordinary Sabbath services, can be celebrated. The design has been passed by the Jewish Council of Beth-din, as well as by the Cunard-White Star authorities.


05 February 2010

Sea Legs

On this day in 1946, the Queen Mary, loaded with 2,347 G.I. brides, reduced speed as it proceeded through heavy swells so that the women could get their sea legs under them.

New bride Maureen Blakely Fahey, 20, of London, viewed the journey as "an adventure" though admitted she was anxious to have it end.

Some of the new brides feared a tugboat strike in New York would cause delay when they reached port; however, most were unconcerned as the U.S. Army possessed its own tugboats.

The Lewiston Daily Sun, Lewiston, Maine


04 February 2010


On this day in 1938, the R.M.S. Queen Mary departed Southampton for Cherbourg and New York.

A fun fact reported in the San Jose News, San Jose, CA, also on this day in 1938: The ship had 596 clocks aboard.


03 February 2010

A Good Idea

Reported in the Toledo Blade on this day in 1951:
Robert Ossen [sic] and Leonard Bernstein, the composer, met on the Queen Mary while coming from Europe. The result is a picture, "Saturday Night," which they'll make independently. It'll be divided into 4 episodes, each showing what happens to people in different stratas of society and various parts of America on a certain Saturday night. Rossen will write and direct the film while Bernstein does the musical score.

02 February 2010

A Cold Job

From "New York Day by Day" in the New York Times on this day in 1940:

...What a cold job for those policemen who, in pairs, keep continuous guard over the Queen Mary and Normandie, from the vantage point of the elevated highway that runs alongside the piers!

...And I still hear the question asked, "Why is the Queen Mary painted camouflage gray?" She has not moved from her berth since trouble started. The Normandie retains her old coat of paint.

01 February 2010

Duck Soup?

On this day in 1949, Chico Marx arrived in England aboard the Queen Mary and proceeded to his accommodations at the Savoy Hotel in London. Marx was embarking on a variety tour, which would begin in Edinburgh, Scotland, with a stop in Glasgow, before returning for shows in London. 

He told the press that the voyage had given him a bad cold and a big appetite. 

The Glasgow Herald