24 September 2010

Clyde-Built

From The Montreal Gazette on this day in 1934:

BIG SHIP-BUILDING ACHIEVEMENT

On Wednesday next, in the presence of Their Majesties, King George and Queen Mary, the gigantic hull of what heretofore has been known and widely discussed as "Cunarder 534" will be launched into the waters of the Clyde, at Glasgow. It will be an epoch-making event, and one on which the eyes of the whole world will be turned. Only when the ship begins to move down the slipways will her name be announced officially. The Queen will perform the "christening" ceremony. After the launching, and during the next eighteen months, one hundred thousand workmen will play their part in converting the empty shell into the perfect liner. She will then be the largest and finest ship afloat. The massive hull with a sloping stem, cruiser stern and three large funnels suitably raked, power and speed--symbols of modern transport. The hull structure provides for twelve decks from the sun deck downwards, and one of the promenade decks will be seven hundred and fifty feet in length, which is longer than the over-all length of most transatlantic vessels of today. In addition to all the generous accommodation that the new ship will afford, there will be two acres of deck for walking and games. Passengers will be able to drive to the vessel, park their cars in a large garage on board and drive them off again on this side of the Atlantic. On the top deck will be ample space for aeroplanes. In a sentence, the "534" will be twenty-three and a half times greater in length than the first Cunarder, the Comet, built in 1812, and her funnels will be so wide in diameter that this great grandmother of passenger steamers would have had room to sail through them and even turn.

Ships built on the Clyde whose launching stirred the nautical world, and which still rank as world record-holders, include the Canadian Pacific steamships Empress of Canada and Empress of Britain, but their dimensions are exceeded by those of the Cunarder soon to be released from the stocks, and now awaiting her name from Queen Mary. So monstrous are the proportions of this giant boat that many new problems have had to be overcome in connection with the launching operation. Her length necessitated the removal of five and a half acres of land from the mouth of the River Cart, opposite the slipway; her depth required a channel to be cut in the bed of the river to allow safe passage for the keel; and as a wave "at least eight feet high" is expected to sweep up the Clyde when the new Cunarder takes the water at the launch, and is likely to sweep over the public right of way on Clydeside, the municipal authorities have taken special precautions to safeguard the public.

The Clyde-built ship has for many years been accepted by the world as bearing the hall-mark of perfection. "Cunarder 534" promises to carry the status of the Clyde shipbuilder to step higher and spread wider the fame of Glasgow, whilst leaving still unanswered a question that has often been raised, whether the Clyde made Glasgow, or did Glasgow make the Clyde? In any event, the building of this great liner, over and above what it represents as an accumulation of energy and science, is significant as an outward and visible sign of economic rehabilitation in the United Kingdom.

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