24 December 2010

"Do it again, Aberdeen"

This week in the history of the Queen Mary:

From the Evening Post on December 21, 1935:


When I was last inside the Queen Mary in Clydebank yard there was a forest of pine trees in her, strutting and shoring her shell for the long period in which she was to stand on the stocks waiting for work to be resumed, and the men to surge into her again, and the vast structure to echo again to the pneumatic riveters in the building, says a writer in the "Manchester Guardian." At that time there were even rumours that the giant--"No. 534," as she was then--might never be completed. Now she is afloat nearby in the fitting dock, 23ft of her in the Clyde and her vast bulk towering over the yard, now crowned with her three red funnels, the third of which was set in recently. Like warship funnels they are of different height, with the smallest the aft one. The fore funnel, which is taller, is high enough to carry its smoke clear of the ship. The stepping-down effect of the funnels adds to the streamline appearance of the ship, and like the other changes that have taken place in the silhouette of big liners it seems odd at first, but soon the eye apprehends that the ship is an integral whole in functional harmony. Although so much bigger than the Empress of Britain, the Queen Mary looks more elegant, chiefly through the longer run forward in proportion from the bridge deck to her bow, giving better space for the foremast....

The huge ventilators on the boat deck of a simplified pattern with flattish sides, which are being clamped into position, also add to the raking look of the ship. A curious point that adds detail almost like embroidery is the close mass of rivet-heads, about midships, coming down in narrowing shape from the main deck to the fourth deck, at one point almost in line with the bridge...One of the points, by the way, that form part of the ships' designers' calculations is the effect of the difference of temperature in the superstructure and in the hull as it is affected by the sea...Propellers...are still a developing part of marine propulsion, and Messrs. Brown must have given great thought and made many experiments on models before the final form was settled. The effect of "hammer" by the broken water on propeller blades in certain circumstances is a factor in vibration, a subject that is particularly occupying the minds of big shipping companies.

Inside the ship the lay visitor finds himself in a labyrinthine iron factory with irons sides and loose, red-painted iron plates marked with chalk diagrams and figures, and the shapes of windows chalked on the side of iron walls where the windows are to be cut. The library, a high iron hall, is particularly gloomy, for the windows there have mostly still to be cut. The swimming bath, however, has its handsome blue composite marble columns with gilt lines and gay enamelled tiling in position, with gaunt iron framing beneath. The cocktail bar is a dark, narrow dungeon inconceivable to the people who will be in the radiantly decorated chamber it will be next summer. Tomorrow these halls, dining-rooms, and lounges and cabins and corridors will be soft under foot, charmingly decorated and the centre of rich, holiday life; today Jock Macmillan and his mate have chalked their inmost thoughts on the bare iron structure on which all that is to be--"Good old Rangers" and "Do it again, Aberdeen." Another scrawl had a light-hearted reference to Mae West.

In 1948, the Lewiston Daily News reported that Somerset Maugham had arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary declaring he'd written his last novel, preferring at that stage in his life to write essays and literary criticism. The purpose of his visit in the United States was to see friends and to buy underwear because, he said, "I haven't got any coupons in England."

From an article entitled, "Stowaway Turns Trip Into European Tour," in the Dayton Beach Morning Journal on December 24, 1955:

New York (AP) - Stowing away unintentionally on the liner Queen Mary last June led to just "one silly incident after another," Richard D. Martin, 27, Cleveland advertising man, said on his return here yesterday.

The incidents included:
- Swimming ashore at Southampton.
- Taking a tour of Europe, as long as he was over that way anyhow.

Yesterday there was still another incident aboard the Saxonia: The FBI took him in tow [sic] hear all about it.

But to go back: Martin and a friend, John Dorsey, 27, also of Cleveland, attended a bon voyage party for some friends sailing aboard the Queen Mary from New York.

The friends urged them to go along, and, although the Clevelanders hadn't intended to, they somehow still were aboard when the ship put out to sea.

"We had the run of the ship," Martin said. "Everyone treated us kindly, and nobody knew we were not bona fide passengers."

However, he said, he became "apprehensive" when the ship anchored off Southampton July 2. He dived off and swam ashore, fully clothed and carryig his passport and about $400.

He was drying out on a park bench when a British policeman spotted him. Martin was lodged in jail for three days as a "stowaway."

He communicated with his father, Frank Martin, a farm machinery firm executive, who paid the steamship line for his passage. The father also enlisted the aid of Rep. Bolton (R-Ohio) to get a
State Dept. validation for the son's passport.

The the English sent young Martin to France and allowed him to reenter England legally from there. Properly documented and paid up, he stayed abroad.

In August, he said, he telephoned a friend, Miss Maribel Boyd, 23, a Toronto receptionist and asked her to visit Europe.

He said she rallied to the call and they visited several countries. They had hoped to get married in Rome and to vacation at Capri but red tape forced them to postpone the wedding, he said.

Martin said he understood Dorsey had returned to the U.S. meanwhile.

On December 23, 1961, The Portsmouth Times reported that Cunard had announced it would not go forward with its plans to replace the Queen Mary and that "Just in time [the company] has accepted the fact that to build such another liner, even with the gigantic subsidy the British government was willing to contribute, would have been to construct a floating white elephant."

17 December 2010

King, Sister, Lord & Anchor

From the Evening Post this week in 1936:

Testing The Anchor Chain

Before the liner Queen Mary went into service her giant anchor chain was tested to destruction. In the first test the whole chain withstood a pull equivalent to 289 tons. Then three link sections of the chain resisted a pull of more than 405 tons without signs of breaking. In a final test the pulling machine exerted a force of 693 tons before a link fractured.

Also this week in the history of the Queen Mary:

In 1948, King Peter of Yugoslavia arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary with his wife Alexandra for his first public appearance in America at a town hall meeting.

In 1950, Australian nurse Sister Kenny, who developed a way to treat polio victims with hot packs and exercise, departed the United States aboard the Queen Mary, declaring her mission in America complete.

And in 1960, an excerpt of The Memoirs of Lord Ismay, published in The Montreal Gazette, revealed that after deciding to transport a large British delegation to Washington for a conference, a shipment of kit bags originating in Suez was discovered to have infested the ship with vermin. Though Cunard employees rushed to decontaminate the area reserved for the delegation, other parts of the ship remained infested. "I regret to say," Lord Ismay said, "Sir William and Lady Beveridge soon bore unmistakable signs of ravage."

10 December 2010

Scotland Yard On Board

From the Ottawa Citizen this week in 1938:

"Queen Mary" Searched For Yugoslav Terrorists

Scotland Yard Officers Board Liner To Check Reports Assassins Sworn To Kill Regent of Yugoslavia Were Aboard. But Find None.

Plymouth, England, Dec. 7, - Special Scotland Yard officers boarded the liner Queen Mary today as she rode at anchor off Plymouth and checked reports that terrorists sworn to kill Prince Regent Paul of Yugoslavia were aboard.

The inspectors examined credentials of passengers scheduled to land in England, but it was understood no suspicious persons were found. The Yugoslav regent left London for Paris yesterday under extraordinary Scotland Yard protection. It was denied he left because of published reports Croatian terrorists were coming from New York too "get" him.

While Scotland Yard men were aboard the weather became so rough the tender lines snapped and the Queen Mary proceeded toward Southampton without disembarking 250 passengers from New York and unloading 2,000 bags of mail.

Only two passengers got on the tender before the lines broke. Sir Ronald Lindsay, British embassador to the United States, was among those forced to continue to Southampton.

03 December 2010

Getting Pumped Up

From The Glasgow Herald on this day in 1935:



Captain Sir Edgar Britten, the Commodore of the Cunard-White Star fleet and at present the commander of the Berengaria, arrived in Glasgow last night for the purpose of making a personal inspection of the Queen Mary, to the command of which he has been appointed.

Sir Edgar, who is staying at the Central Hotel, hopes to remain in Glasgow for three days.

He will visit the yard of Messrs John Brown and co. at Clydebank to-day, and will make a tour of the vessel in company with Captain Horsburgh, marine superintendent of the Cunard-White Star Line.

It was stated that Sir Edgar's inspection has no official significance, but is being undertaken from his own desire to see the giant vessel which he is to command.

In an interview he said that he did not expect to rejoin the Berengaria, but would be ashore until he took over command of the Queen Mary.

The arrival of the Queen Mary's commander coincided with an interesting stage in the vessel's history--the pumping into the storage tanks of thousands of gallons of fuel oil and lubricating oil, and the first appearance of smoke from the funnels.


The first of the three forward boilers was lit by the fuel oil, of which about 200 tons was pumped on board. The object was to boil out, so that it will be thoroughly cleaned to secure a head of steam to operate the three turbo-generators which will supply the power for the hotel services on board.

The other two forward boilers will also be lit up during the next few days.

In a similar way the other boilers in the vessel will be prepared later in December, and it is hoped that this preliminary work will pave the way for a complete engine trial in January. At this trial the whole of the engine-room mechanism controlling the propellers will be tested, but the propellers themselves will not be operated.

It is understood that at those tests the engines will be run at a speed considerably greater than is required for sailing purposes in order to prove the efficiency of the machinery. Following the engine trial the propeller shaft will be coupled, and there will be a trial at slow speed before the Queen Mary sails down the river.