13 December 2011

Hitting Back with No. 534

On this day in 1933:

Before she was christened "Queen Mary"


Measure Urged as Helping Industry and Defence in War



White Star-Cunard Amalgamation Indicated by Neville Chamberlain

(Associated Press Cable)

London, December 13.--Declaring that Great Britain should "hit back and hit hard at aggressive countries fighting" her shipping, Walter Runciman at Ville Marie despite the Trade, said tonight a subsidy for tramp ships was being considered by the Government.

Not only would it aid industry, he said in the House of Commons, but it would be a defence measure in the event of war.

Mr. Runciman's statement followed that today of Neville Chamberlain, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that an early merger of the great Cunard and White Star North Atlantic shipping lines is indicated.

When the merger is completed, Mr. Chamberlain asserted, he will present a programme for facillitating completion of the huge Cunard liner 534, which would be the largest ship afloat.

Work on the 534 was suspended more than a year ago but if Government assistance is received it is expected to be operated jointly by the Cunard and White Star companies.

The 534 would be a super-liner, costing approximately $25,000,000 and with a tonnage of 78,000 tons. Mr. Chamberlain said discussion of whether a sister ship to it would be constructed should be deferred.

Mr. Runciman said the Government also is "taking into account disabilities under which British lines labored," referring to the United States' ban on foreign coastwise shipping.

It appears to be, he continued, "a very unjust thing that the United States should regard a trip from New York to Honolulu as coastwise traffic. But if we were to make anything like a rejoinder to that we must bear in mind we have a large interest in foreign trade and would expose a very broad track for attack."

VOTED DOWN 221-34.

An opposition proposal for public ownership of shipping and ship-building was voted down by the House, 221-43.

Mr. Runciman said "the experience of the United States and Australia was sufficient to dispose of this idea to hand the merchant navy over to the Government." He deplored what he described as the failure of other big countries to support Britain's anti-subsidy policy.

Sir Robert Horne had previously declared the United States Government lost nearly $400,000,000 in an attempt to run its shipping and that Australia, Canada and France incurred similar losses.

Shipping circles have predicted that not only would the Government enable completion of number 534 (the only name the vessel has, since it is uncompleted) but would also construct a sister ship.

Negotiations between the Cunard and White Star Lines have been long drawn out. Meanwhile, the steel hulk of the 534 lay on the Clydebank stocks. About $9,600,000 has already been spent on the vessel. Contracts for it were let in December, 1930.

Operation of the boat is understood to be one of the principal objects of the Cunard-White Star amalgamation. Another is elimination of competition, one of the Government's conditions for giving assistance.

France's potential rival to the 534, the luxury liner Normandie, of 60,000 gross tons with a 70,000-ton displacement, will likely be commissioned early next year. It was launched last fall. It was built at a cost of approximately $30,000,000.

(source: The Montreal Gazette)

12 December 2011

High Hopes in Hard Times

On this day in 1931:

Queen Mary under construction (photo: Stewart Bale)


Government Cannot Assist.


(British Official Wireless.)

LONDON, December. 12. The decision to suspend construction work on the 73,000 tons Cunard liner, a stoppage which will affect thousands of workers in Clyde shipyards and many more indirectly in industries providing equipment, was the subject of a statement by the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Walter Runciman) at question time in the House of Commons, and of speeches by Clydeside members and others in the discussion on the adjournment.

Mr. Runciman, who was asked whether Government would do anything in the matter, replied that the idea of direct Government assistance was out of the question, but if the Cunard Company had any proposals to make the Government would give them the most serious consideration. The Government's hope was that circumstances would permit of the building of the ship to be resumed before long.

The chairman of the Cunard Company indicated the desire of the company to resume the building of the ship, with which they hoped to regain the Blue Riband of the Atlantic at the earliest moment possible.

Meantime, the ship will remain on the stocks and the work already done is not likely to suffer damage by a postponement of further operations.

Three thousand shipwrights and male and female clerical workers have left the shipyard. It is understood that 1200 will remain as a skeleton staff to shore up the hill in order to safeguard the structure. Sections of the drawing office and clerical staff will be retained. The Clydebank Council is organising to relieve distress among the unemployed.

(Source: The Sydney Morning Herald)

04 December 2011

Besieged By Spies

On this day in 1931:

Foreign Agents Spying On Giant British Ship

Every Effort Made to Secure Secrets of Construction of 73,000 Ton Liner Now Being Built at Clydebank. Stranger's Camera Plate Destroyed. Guarded Like a Fort.
GLASGOW (By mail) -- Foreign spies have invaded Glasgow during the past six months trying to discover the secrets of the design of the great new 73,000-ton liner which is being built for the Cunard Company to establish Britain's mercantile marine supremacy.

The future Queen Mary in 1931.

In spite of all kinds of devices they have failed.

Very shortly official details of the great ship will be published, but only because it is too late for foreign rivals to copy these secrets before the most wonderful ship the world has ever known is put into commission.

Many people must have wondered why the builders -- Messrs. John Brown and Co. -- have preserved so deep a secrecy.

Why They Failed.

Here is a masterpiece of British industry of which any Briton might well be proud. She has been guarded as strictly as a new British warship at a naval dockyard.

The truth is that the moment the giant keel was laid spies besieged the Clyde. They hoped to convey sufficient information to their principals abroad to enable them to forestall the new liner.

They have failed because of the vigilance of the builders and the honest pride and loyalty of the British workmen engaged on this immense undertaking.

When the full story is known, it will make as thrilling a tale as [illegible] narratives of war espionage.

One of the big secrets of the vessel lies in the construction of the bows, a development of [illegible] known as the bulbous pattern.

They give her greater speed and greater stability so that it is believe sea-sickness will be eliminated.

But the giant boat is a [illegible] secrets which would be worth a fortune to rival shipyards.

Sworn to Secrecy

All sorts of subterfuges have been employed by strangers to [illegible] her. Foreign agents disguised as workmen have tried to [illegible] the yard. In every case they have been detected and thrown out.

In one case a stranger [illegible] gain admittance, and was caught in the act of taking photographs. But he was discovered in time, and the plates in [illegible] were destroyed.

Sentries have been on duty night and day at the shipyard. [Illegible] sentry post is connected by phone. No fort has been so closely guarded. All the workers have been sworn to secrecy.

Even directors of the Cunard Company and of John Brown and Co., though well known to [illegible] have not been admitted without showing special passes.

(Source: Ottawa Citizen)


03 December 2011

Keeping Track of the Queen

On this day in 1948:


The Cunard White Star Liner Queen Mary, which anchored in Cowes Roads for 24 hours after leaving her Southampton berth on Wednesday sailed...for Cherbourg and New York.

Postcard of the Queen Mary off Cowes.

Revised sailing dates...as a result of the fog and strike hold-up, were announced yesterday.

The Queen Elizabeth is due back at Southampton on December 12 and the Queen Mary on December 14.

Both liners will make one more round trip voyage before the end of the year. The Queen Elizabeth will leave Southampton on December 15, returning on December 27, and the Queen Mary is scheduled to leave on December 17 and to return on December 29.

(Source: Glasgow Herald)

02 December 2011

Dignitaries On Board

Arriving at Southampton from New York aboard the R. M. S. Queen Mary on this day in 1947:

Mr. Andrei Vyshinsky, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs (who told interviewers in his cabin that "some of the U.N. work was good. Some was bad. I am not completely satisfied.")

Jan Masaryk, Czechoslovakian delegate to the U.N.

Sir Hartley Shawcross, British Attorney General

Hector MacNeil, British Minister of State

(source: Toledo Blade)

British Pathe footage of Vyshinsky (left, shaking hands with Andrei Gromyko), and other U.N. dignitaries arriving in New York aboard the Queen Mary.

01 December 2011

A New Mrs. Simpson

Boarding the Queen Mary on this day in 1937 was Ernest Simpson, the former husband of Wallis Simpson, aka the Duchess of Windsor. He sailed for Britain with his new bride, the former Mary Raffray. Mr. Simpson is pictured here in earlier days with his former wife and her Aunt Bessie.

(Source: New York Times)

30 November 2011

Excuse Her

Headline from the Chicago Tribune on this day in 1937:


18 November 2011

Stars On Board

Aboard the RMS Queen Mary on this day in 1947:

Robert Montgomery, Loretta Young, Bob Hope, Alexis Smith & her husband, actor Craig Stevens.

15 November 2011

Mary in Rio

Headline from the New York Times on this day in 1967:

QUEEN MARY IN RIO ON FINAL JOURNEY; Crew of Once Majestic Ship Sad as Voyage Nears End

07 July 2011

Notables Aboard

This week in the history of the R.M.S. Queen Mary:

Queen Mary at N.Y.

The Queen Mary docked at New York yesterday morning at 8 o'clock with a large number of notables aboard, among them being Count Ladislas Szechneyi, former Hungarian minister to London; Countess Szechenyi, Lord St. Vigeans, Sir Malcolm and Lady Perks, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, motion picture star; Lady Hardwicke, Eugene Gossens, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Mrs. Gossens; J. Milne Barbour, M.P., Minister of Commerce for Northern Ireland; Mrs. Van Storkenborgh, wife of the Dutch minister to Brussels; E. W. Cheadle, with a "See America" group; Little Miss D. Broughton, child film star on her way to Hollywood; Miles Mander, actor; W. Goodfellow, butter king of New Zealand; Mrs. Goodfellow, David Rubinoff, violinist and radio entertainer; Gene Sarazen, golfer; Dr. John R. Gregg, originator of the Gregg System of shorthand.

Walter Wanger, who will build a film-producing city in Rome, Italy, also arrived in the Queen Mary. Premier Mussolini approves the idea. Sylvia Sidney will be the star in the first film to be made.
- The Montreal Gazette, July 7, 1936

LINER INCIDENT RECALLED--The retirement of the Rev. S. Stephen Walker, for the past 37 years minister of Cranstoun parish, Midlothian, recalls his proposals for the completion of the liner Queen Mary during the depression. In a letter which received wide publicity he suggested that 50,000 Scots should be lend [sic] £1 each to allow building to be resumed. Letters and cheques flowed into his manse and he had to travel to Glasgow to interview the shipbuilders. He arrived when representatives of the then Cunard Shipping Company were discussing with the builders an offer of a Government loan.
- The Glasgow Herald, July 8, 1949


Government consideration of the Cunard Company's plea for financial aid in the building of the two new "super" Queens is taking much longer than expected, writes Joseph Haines.

When ministers first heard from Cunard's they overwhelmingly favoured, for prestige reasons, the replacement of the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary.

But now, I understand, their enthusiasm has somewhat cooled.

Assistance of some sort is still likely but I gather that it will be in the form of a fixed-interest loan rather than a subsidy on construction or operation.

A preliminary announcement of the Government's views should come before the end of this month.
- The Bulletin, July 8, 1959

No Aid for Cunard Meanwhile

New Legislation Required

From Our Political Correspondent

WESTMINSTER, Thursday, The Governement have no intention at the moment of bringing in further legislation to assist Cunard Company to build a replacement for the Queen Mary.

Two years ago they introduced the North Atlantic Shipping Bill, which, after a stormy passage through Parliament, did eventually reach the Statute Book.

It empowered the Minister of Transport to help finance the construction of a ship for the North Atlantic trade by making advances to Cunard-White Star, Ltd., not exceeding £18m.

But after the bill was passed the company decided that they did not at that time wish to proceed with the building of a further "Queen."

Unhappy History

Yesterday the Minister of Transport, Mr. Ernest Marples, said in a written parliamentary reply that the company were considering new proposals for a replacement for the Queen Mary. Their request was being considered, but no decision had yet been taken by Government.

It seemed evident to-day that, in view of the unhappy history of the North Atlantic Shipping Act, the Government will not go out of their way to give priority to the Cunard company's new request.

The Act became null and void when the company decided to turn down the facilities it offered. They cannot now expect Government assistance under its provisions.

New legislation would be required for a large loan or grant--and this certainly will not come within the lifetime of the present Parliament.
- The Glasgow Herald, July 5, 1963


10 June 2011

She Sails On Gloriously

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

Crew Quarters on Queen Mary Inspire a Probe

Crew members attend to a passenger's stateroom.

New York, N. Y. A federal inquiry into living conditions of seamen on American merchant ships was proposed by Frances Perkins, secretary of labor, after she had inspected crew quarters of the Queen Mary and pronounced them the best she had ever seen.

For 45 minutes Miss Perkins visited mess halls, kitchens, lavatories and sleeping cabins, pushed her way through passages lined with drying clothes and chatted with shirtless grime caked men from the "black gang."

When she stepped down the gangplank, she said she would ask the department of commerce to co-operate with her own on a survey on ships flying the American flag. Many requests had been made by seamen for such an investigation, she said.
- The Milwaukee Journal, June 4, 1936

Build Famous Ship For Special Scene

HOLLYWOOD--The Queen Mary, built in a week, had made a landing on Paramount's Stage 8, for scenes in "Suddenly It's Spring."

A huge section of the ship's side was reproduced in actual size and placed on rollers, so that it eased up to a New York dock for the disembarkation of troops and a group of G. I. war brides escorted by Paulette Goddard, playing a WAC captain.

Mitchel Leisen is director of the Claude Binyon production.
- The Pittsburgh Press, June 9, 1946

NEW YORK, June 4 -- George Gobel and his wife, "spooky old Alice" -- really an attractive Chicago girl, with dimples -- sailed on the Queen Mary for London, where Gobel does two London TV shows, then vacations.
- Excerpt from an article in The Miami News, June 4, 1959

Sails On

Charleton Heston and family aboard the Queen Mary in 1961.

It hardly seems that the Queen Mary has been sailing for 25 years. But the world's second-biggest liner (her sister ship the Queen Elizabeth outweighs her) has passed that milestone.

This liner has carried 1,700,000 passengers more than 2,900,000 miles. She served in war, too, carrying North American servicemen to Europe during World War II. She also ferried the war brides of Canadian servicemen.

The Queen Mary is luxury at sea. She is a floating hotel, the type of ship that makes passengers wonder why others prefer planes over ship travel.

However her days are numbered. She will be replaced by 1965. In the meantime she sails on gloriously.
- The Windsor Star, June 5, 1961


30 May 2011

Tried & True

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

Back From Coronation

A large number of Americans who attended the Coronation in London returned yesterday morning in the Cunard White Star liner Queen Mary. Among those arriving were: Lowell Thomas, news commentator; Truman Talley, vice-president of Fox Movietone News; Mrs. Talley; Sir Josiah Stamp, economist; Lady Stamp; The Marquis of Sligo; Sir William Wiseman, of Kuhn Loeb & Company.
- The Montreal Gazette, May 25, 1937

Stowaway Total Jumps To Seven

HALIFAX, May 28--(CP)--With the stowaway total jumped to an unofficial seven, all were believed accounted for and still aboard the Queen Mary today when the giant liner sailed for New York to complete her Atlantic crossing.

Special guards, posted right up to sailing time, were said to have uncovered two more unofficial travelers--both men--during the 24-hour stop here. Four men and a woman "about 30" were reported to have been flushed out from hiding places en route.

All will be taken back to Britain after the Queen Mary discharges some 500 remaining civilian passengers in New York and picks up a return load, ships officers said.
- Ottawa Citizen, May 26, 1946

Poet T. S. Eliot Recovering After Shipboard Attack

Eliot departing the Queen Mary.

LONDON (AP)--Nobel Prize winner T. S. Eliot was reported recovering today from a heart attack which felled him aboard the liner Queen Mary en route from New York.

The American-born poet and playwright was taken in a wheel chair from the ship on arrival at Southampton early today and rushed by ambulance to the French Hospital in London.

A hospital spokesman said Eliot was suffering from a "cardiac condition which has not proved too serious." He said the 67-year-old writer "won't have to stay here too long--just a few days rest is all he needs now."

Fellow passengers aboard the Queen Mary said Eliot suffered a heart attack three days ago and spent the rest of the voyage in the ship's hospital. The ship's doctor declined comment.
- The Portsmouth Times, May 24, 1956

Liner Queen Mary Celebrates 25th Anniversary In Atlantic Today

SOUTHAMPTON, England--(Reuters)--The liner Queen Mary, the tried, true and steady-ruddered friend of trans-Atlantic tourism and romance, marks its 25th birthday today.

After the Second World War, this giant of Britain's Cunard Line was dubbed the "bride ship" and with good reason.

The Mary, the world's second biggest liner at 81,237 tons, carried 30 per cent of all war brides of American servicemen who travelled to their new homes under a U.S. government program.

Then, in May of 1946, the Mary switched to ferrying the war brides of Canadian servicemen.

The Mary also transported North American servicemen during the war.

And since its May, 1936, maiden voyage--the occasion of this anniversary--the ship has carried 1,700,000 passengers, many of them North Americans, over 2,900,000 miles.

Outweighed only by its 83,670-ton sister ship Queen Elizabeth, launched in 1938, it is named for the late Queen Mary, consort of the late King George V.

Queen Mary, grandmother of the present Queen, performed the launching ceremony in 1934, becoming the first reigning English Queen to launch a merchant ship.

The Queen Mary, steaming from its home port here in Southampton on England's south coast, is in mid-Atlantic bound for New York today for its anniversary.

Cunard officials said the passengers will celebrate at a gala dinner.

The Mary also has had its share of tragedy.

During th war--Oct. 2, 1942--off the Irish coast, it plowed into an escorting British cruiser which lost 338 men as a result.

Today, still a crack liner with 732 Atlantic crossings to its credit, the Mary is sailing along toward the end of its life.

There are plans to replace her by 1965 with another giant Cunarder, though possibly not as big as the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth.
- The Montreal Gazette, May 27, 1961


18 April 2011

Queen Mary in...Norway?

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

Docking at Cherbourg

On this voyage to New York the Queen Mary due early Monday afternoon docked at Cherbourg during her call there. Heretofore she has anchored inside the breakwater and passengers have boarded from a tender. From now on all express steamers of Cunard White Star will be berthed at the new Cherbourg pier. Trains run down to the boatside, adding to the convenience of embarkation.

The new quay at Cherbourg is approximately 2,000 feet long and about 450 feet in depth. It is double decked. Four railroad tracks run through it so that four separate trains can be accommodated at one time. Motor cars can also be driven right up to the gangways on the motor runway which leads right into the shed.
- The Montreal Gazette, April 17, 1937

Queen Mary Takes Troops to Norway

DES MOINES--(U.P.)--Col. Frank Knox, publisher of the Chicago Daily News, said last night in an interview that he had received information through private sources that the British luxury liner Queen Mary had been loaded with Canadian troops and embarked several days ago from Halifax harbor for Norway.

"By now," he said, "it must be very near Norway."

Knox was here to address the Des Moines Economic club. He did not enlarge upon his statement but reiterated that a German victory in the current war "would mean our involvement right off."
- St. Petersburg Times, April 18, 1940

Fast Trip by Queen

NEW YORK, April 22 (AP).--The Queen Mary Friday completed her fastest post-war west-bound voyage with a time of four days, 14 hours and 57 minutes, beating the record of last June by 51 minutes. April 19 she steamed 743 miles averaging 29.43 knots. Her average speed was 28.44 knots. Her pre-war record of three days, 21 hours and 48 minutes at a speed of 30.90 is the world's fastest.
- Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, April 22, 1950

Film star Corinne Calvet has sailed for Europe from America with her four-year-old son, her pet poodle, and 12 pieces of baggage, forsaking Hollywood "for ever" after 12 years, 17 films--and two husbands.

"I'm going to write and [sic] expose called 'My 12 years in Hollywood,'" she said as she left New York on board the Queen Mary.
- Evening Times, April 21, 1960


03 April 2011

A Near-Riotous Scene

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

British Pathe Film from March 30, 1936:



Giant British Vessel Enveloped By Veil Of Secrecy

NEW YORK, March 28. (AP)--The great British liner Queen Mary was 8 days at sea today with her whereabouts as much a mystery as the daring New York-to-Murmansk dash of the German greyhound Bremen.

The $25,000,000, 81,235-ton Queen Mary left New York last Thursday morning garbed in camouflage gray, ostensibly bound for troopship service between Australia and the Near East.

She was seen briefly near Long Branch, N. J., heading southward at high speed. Since then silence has enveloped the ship the Nazis have said they would sink without warning.

The smaller Mauretania slipped out of New York 12 hours before the Queen Mary and went through the Panama Canal, leaving Balboa Wednesday for a Pacific port. The Queen is too great of girth for canal transit.
- The Palm Beach Post, March 28, 1940

'Reliefer' Taken Off Ocean Liner

NEW YORK, March 29--(AP)--A man on relief was blocked from taking a tour of Scotland today when an officer removed him from the liner Queen Mary in a near-riotous scene.

David Smith, 43 of Queens, was accused of defrauding the city by drawing relief checks for 16 years up to $266 a month for himself, his wife and three children while having other financial sources.

Warrant officer John A. Kennedy of the Long Island city magistrate's court was surrounded on Pier 90 by the wife, children and a number of Smith's friends, shouting and pushing, as he took Smith from the vessel shortly before it sailed.

Pier and city police restored order. Smith was held in $500 bail for a hearing Tuesday.

- St. Joseph News-Press, March 30, 1952

English branch of Astor family to visit Oregon

John Jacob Astor before boarding the boat train en route to the Titanic

NEW YORK (AP)--Several descendants of John Jacob Astor, the fur trader who founded one of America's greatest fortunes, arrived Tuesday from England to join the 150th anniversary celebration of their ancestor's founding of Astoria, Ore.

Disembarking from the liner Queen Mary were Lady Astor of Hever, her son, Gavin Astor, chairman of the Times Publishing Co., Ltd., of London, his wife, Lady Irene Astor, and their five children. Lady Astor of Hever said her husband, Lord Astor, would join her in Astoria April 10.

- Ellensburg Daily Record, April 4, 1961


18 March 2011

"Some Gigantic Phantasy"

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

3,000 Men Preparing New Liner for Maiden Trip

'Queen Mary' Rapidly Reaching Completion In Large Dockyard

GLASGOW, March 15.--What is going on inside the Cunard-White Star Queen Mary, largest liner in the world? She lies in her fitting out basin at Clydebank. What kind of a scene is there behind the grey wall of her massive hulk?

The ship was launched last September. Ever since then an army of men, varying between 1,000 and 3,000 according to changing requirements, has labored, sometimes in night shifts as well as day, to prepare the Queen Mary for her maiden voyage next year. What progress has been made?

All the 27 enormous boilers are in position. As they tower among the steel ladders of their boiler-rooms they appear as some gigantic phantasy. In comparison, the men working about them resemble trivial insects.

The boilers are still red-leaded outside. Their interiors are being blackleaded. Fire bricks are being placed beneath, under th eyes of inspectors. Beneath each boiler a charcoal fire burns. These fires will be kept continuously alight until the time comes for the boilers to be used.

There is a light overhead railway running around the side of the engine-room, to aid the adjustment of machinery. A good deal of the lighter portions of machinery affixed to the sides of the engine-room--"hanging stuff," as it is called--has been put into position already.

Food of the Gods

Another prominent feature of the engine-room is the propeller gears surrounded by casings. The propeller shafts appear like the barrel of some Big Bertha gun of the future. They, too, seem to have eaten the food of the gods.

The electric steering gear is completely installed. The various portions of plant and gear stand waiting: like squat searchlights in appearance, until the day when they will guide the great ship on her course. The electrical apparatus for pulling up the anchors is also installed.

Throughout the ship there are apparently limitless vistas of corridor, lit by the glimmer of temporary lamps. Along some of the corridors are walls of plywood, and doors to cabins are making their appearance.

Scores of workmen are busy painting great piles of planking with a fire-resisting preparation. Everywhere, too, is to be seen a new type of automatically-working steel door, which completely isolates any portion of the ship against a threat of either fire or sea.

Just a slight push and the door, working on elaborate ball-bearings, swings to. A row of hooks snaps home and a steel bar falls into place.

All the floors throughout the ship are of a new patent cement-like material, which will be covered with rubber tiles. Unlike wood floors, which deteriorate sooner or later, the cement-like base is virtually everlasting.

Repeatedly among the naked red-painted steel plating there appear neatly stencilled directions, such as "Tourist Quarters F Deck," "Crew's Quarters," "Petty Officers Here," and "Stores" and the like. Amid the present rough surroundings these notices have rather the effect of the "Piccadilly Circus" or "Leicester Square" which the Tommy stuck up in the trenches during the war.

Two Swimming Pools

Stacks of piping stand in corners and are being fitted by an army of plumbers. Every pipe in this vast ship is of copper. There is not a single piece of lead pipe. Lift shafts gapingly await their lifts.

There are two swimming pools. Both are well advanced. The first-class pool is contained on one of the highest rooms known either ashore or afloat. There are two galleries, one above the other, and a great staircase with two side staircases leading down to the diving board.

Already workmen are putting the tiling in the pool itself, and the familiar marks of the depth--3ft., 6in., 4ft., etc.--appear amid the rough concrete of the bath's surroundings.

The Tourist Class pool, though not so lofty in its surroundings as the other, is still markedly sumptuous. The decoration promises well. Bright blue pillars edged with polished steel surround the bath, and the walls are of an attractive grey stone, flecked with mother-of-pearl.

A reminder of the vast appetites that the Queen Mary will cater for is afforded by the extent of the space set aside for cold storage rooms. In room after room men are busy packing a kind of cork composition into the thick walls that will house the refrigerators. There is a whole string of laconic indications stencilled along the storage room, "Ripening Fruit," "Green Vegetables," "Kosher Meat," and so on.

In the crew's quarters neat rows of wooden lockers are in place while in the store rooms are sheet-metal cupboards and drawers. The dining room soars loftily. No fitting of any kind has yet appeared in it. Piles of planks which are being treated with fire-resisting paint are piled on its floor. Near by the "writing-room" remains a name only. "Hospital," too, exists only in outline and in title.

Down in the bowels of the ship a deep tank where the water ballast will be stored has been exhaustively tested for weeks on end.

The main promenade deck, wide and stately as a miniature Champs Elysees, is taking shape. The sun windows are in and the crew are laying planking.

On the quay near the ship lie her two masts. When it is said that a rivetter can sit almost bolt upright at his work inside the mainmast, it gives an idea of its size. They are vast cylinders of steel tapering gracefully.

When they are installed, the liner will have to be taken into the river. It is likely that all the Clyde traffic will be held up for half a day or so while this is done.

The scene from the towering bridge: Glasgow and the countryside fall away remotely, like London seen from the Monument; great warehouses and ships nearby are dwarfed as if they were viewed from a cliff top.

On the upper decks lie great circular irons. They are intended for the boiler rooms, and will be installed in the next few days.

The cylinder through which the anchor chains run gapes in the deck like a shell hole. "The largest ever," it is several feet in diameter. Near by are the capstans, on she same heroic scale as all else.

A minor exterior alteration has been decided upon. The lettering of the name Queen Mary which was first placed on the vessel's bows, was too large. The letters have been removed and smaller ones are now being substituted.

Day and night a man is stationed in the stern of the ship, where she juts out to the Clyde. He rings a warning bell at the approach of any ship as a sign for it to reduce speed.
-The Calgary Daily Herald, March 15, 1935

British Pathe film from March 14, 1949:

Trip Around the World

WINNIPEG, March 14--Two Winnipeg girls, bored with office work, last night left on the first leg of a round-the-world trip.

Off to satisfy wanderlust are Amelia Zurick, 26, and Nancy Halford, 28. They plan to travel by thumb, bicycle and luck. They did not disclose how much money they are taking.

The aspiring globe-trotters, who Friday quit their jobs as record clerks at the unemployment insurance commission, sail March 23 on the Queen Mary for England, their first stop.
-Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, March 14, 1950

Sir Norman and Lady Martin, of South Yarra, will be guests of honor at several farewell parties before they leave for London in the Himalaya next month.

While in London they will make their headquarters at The Whitehouse, Regent's Park.

After a tour of the Continent they will travel in the Queen Mary to New York, then travel overland to Miami. They will return to Melbourne in the Oriana.
- The Age, March 17, 1965

08 March 2011

Sleeping Beauties

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

Footage from British Pathe, March 11, 1935:


"Sleeping Beauties" Of Maritime Social Set Piling Up Charges

New York, March 7, (AP)--Three "sleeping beauties" of the barnacled maritime social set representing more than $100,000,000 in Allied merchant tonnage, drowsed side by side tonight under a heavy and presumably inviolate guard.

The protection thrown over them as gargantuan refugees from the horrors of war was tightened upon the arrival of the new British liner Queen Elizabeth.

[The Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Normandie] sleep in peace, though, at Pier 90 in the North River, nosed into neutrality "for the duration"--and obviously out of the oceanic "carriage trade" for some time to come.

You have less chance of getting aboard any of the three than you have of getting a bid to the coming-out party a year or so hence for Gloria Vanderbilt. Unless you have official business aboard--and there isn't any--or bona fide credentials signed by persons bearing such names as Churchill, Chamberlain and Daladier, it's no go. Sorry, you can't go aboard. You can't even get near the pier. You can't do anything except keep walking right on down under the West Side elevated highway. Get along, now. No loitering.

...but suppose you do get on the pier and up the gangplank. A peep-hole remindful of the old speakeasy days slides back and if the eye sees your companion is a part of the ship's company and you have papers bearing the proper seals and such the hatch swings open.

The inside isn't pretty. Paintings--and a good part of the Normandie's $60,000,000 cost went for art works--are covered, furnishings are stowed away and it smells musty.

The skeleton maintenance crews eat in and keep up steam to give the engines occasional turnovers. The crews go out when off duty to the bars along 10th and 11th avenues. They talk of war, naturally, in the bars, and argue somewhat more amiably than formerly over the relative merits of their respective ships.

- The Palm Beach Post, March 8, 1940

On March 8, 1950 The Washington Observer reported on the arrival of British-born actress Greer Garson in New York aboard the Queen Mary. She was on her way to Hollywood to film a new picture.

After being guests of the British government at a Robert Browning commemoration in Westminster Abbey, Fatty Arbuckle's former wife, Minta Durfee, 74, and Flobelle St. John, 65, widow of Arbuckle's slap-stick comic nephew, Al St. John, "were sent home from a 'triumphal tour' of France and Britain in a 1st class cabin of the Queen Mary as guests of the Cunard Line," according to The Evening Independent on March 12, 1964. Minta Durfee was Charlie Chaplin's leading lady in his first film.


28 February 2011

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

The Glasgow Herald reported on March 3, 1935, that Messrs. John I. Thornycroft and Co., Ltd. received an order from the Cunard-White Star Line for RJ/2 type, two-cylinder diesel engines to power the Queen Mary's lifeboats.

The paper stated "This important order has been placed after lengthy research by the engine-builders in co-operation with the owners and builders of the lifeboat hulls."

Cunard-White Star, the paper further reported, was determined to have every lifeboat equipped with every possible safeguard for passengers. Of the 34 motorized lifeboats, two would be statutorily fitted with wireless equipment, and another two would be used for quick emergency launching, as in the case of someone falling overboard.

The engines, once installed, were fitted with a closed-water circulation system so that they could be started instantly at any time. Unlike previous motorized lifeboats, these engines could also be started before hitting the water. The engines developed 18 b.h.p. at 1200 r.p.m. and were inexpensive to run.


The luxury liner, Queen Elizabeth, leaves a weekly laundry of 30,000 towels, 25,000 napkins, 5000 sheets and pillow cases and a small mountain of other items every time she docks at Jersey City. When her sister ship, the Queen Mary, comes in, she picks up the Queen Elizabeth's clean laundry and leaves hers to be scrubbed. Sounds like a good family cooperative plan. Laundry always is a problem, even if the family washing is slightly smaller than a steamship's. However, with the proper equipment, the task is much easier. That's why so many housewives have bought modern washing machines...
- Spokane Daily Chronicle, March 3, 1949

...One of Cunard's public relations staff, Jim Murray, was waiting for us at Pier 90 the other day to escort us on a look-see of the vessel. And it took us something like three hours, with time-out for lunch, to see her highlights from stem to stern. It was something like going through a miniature city with all the populace away on a picnic or something.

Mr. Murray, we soon learned, knows his way about the Queen Mary. We went through this corridor and that. From the grand lounge of the luxurious first class to the less pretentious, but nevertheless comfortable, public rooms of the cabin and tourist class.

Lunch time found us at the Queen Mary's main restaurant--which is an excellent place to be at lunch time.

You can't help feeling a bit exclusive when you have lunch, practically alone, in the largest room ever built in a ship...regardless of its immense size it has an air of cozy elegance about it--and a perfect setting for a menu including filet, lobster and crepe suzettes.
- Excerpt from "Travel Trails" in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 2, 1952

The Gettysburg Times reported that Lady Clementine Churchill, widow of Winston, and their daughter Mary, arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary on March 1, 1965, on their way to a holiday in Barbados and Jamaica.


22 February 2011

Directed to England

On this day in 1938, director Victor Saville was aboard the Queen Mary heading for England to direct the film South Riding for Metro.

He is pictured above aboard the ship the following year.

New York Times

19 February 2011

A Date with the Queens

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

Tom Webster was on the overseas phone from London. He's doing eighty oil paintings for the gym of the Cunard Line's new "Queen Mary." Calling it "Cavalcade of Sport." He will appreciate your asking readers to suggest what sports figures should be included. And they should address him care of London Daily Mail.
- The Rochester Journal February 14, 1936


Date With Queens Calls for Sleep

NEW YORK, Feb. 15 (CP).--Capt. George B. Young of Bergenfield, N.J., has one inflexible rule: When he has a date with a "Queen" he gets to bed early the night before.

As a docking pilot with a big tugboat firm, he has regular dates twice a month with the two biggest queens in the world: the liners Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary. He is entrusted with bringing the big ships into their berths in the Hudson River and of course must be completely awake when he's on the bridge.

Young, who has had his first-class pilot's license since he was 21 and has been a docking pilot for 15 years, board the Queens near Battery Place at the lower end of Manhattan Island, relieving the harbor pilot who has brought the ship in from Ambrose Light.

"Make sure you say that the ship's master is always in charge," he says. "He doesn't turn that Queen over to us until he's confident we know how to handle her."

The world's largest liners are coaxed into their docks with a whistle. Young's signals from the bridge have to be picked up by a sailor and relayed to tugs on the starboard bow. Stern tugs, far out of reach of the whistle, get their signals from the ship's mighty horn. Tug pilots repeat the signals before following them so there will be no mistakes.

Everything is figured in advance--wind, tides, weight of the ship, the number of tugs needed, the pilots who handle the tugs.

"I consider the pilots as much as I do the tugs--they really know their business," says Young.

Young's business if varied. One Sunday he docked the 80,000-ton Queen Elizabeth. The next day it was a 4,000-ton banana boat.

All jobs are the same to him, but he considers his toughest was when he put the big Dutch liner Nieuw Amsterdam into dry dock in Erie Basin in 1946.

- The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, February 15, 1951

...the provision of a new first class cocktail bar, and the transfer of an additional spacious public room to tourist class, are being made during the current overhaul of the Queen Mary which will be completed by March 10.
- The Montreal Gazette, February 15, 1964


12 February 2011

Unfinished Giant

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

From the Lewiston Morning Tribune, Lewiston, Idaho, on February 9, 1934:

Great Britain launched a fight today to regain the blue ribbon honors of the north Atlantic through the formal announcement of the merger of the Cunard and White Star shipping lines with the government assisting financially.

Work consequently is expected to be hastened on the unfinished giant "534," now on the stocks of Clydebank, so that the new "queen of the waters" can enter a speed race with Germany's Bremen and Europa and Italy's new Rex as soon as possible.

The new company, to be called Cunard-White Star Ltd., will have a combined fleet of 25 ships under its flag, headed by Cunard's Berengaria and Mauretania and White Star's Majestic.

The merger which followed upon two years of negotiations has practically been in effect since Jan. 1 when accounts of the firms were combined.

The "534"--it has no other name yet--is designed to be the biggest ship afloat. According to previously announced plans it will cost about $25,000,000 and be of 73,000 tons.

Contracts for it were let in December 1930, and more than $9,000,000 was expended on it before construction was suspended more than a year ago.
From The Milwaukee Journal on February 8, 1941:

90,000 British Troops at Singapore, Is Report
Saigon, French Indo-China - (AP) - Travelers reaching here from Singapore, Britain's great far eastern naval base, said Sunday that the British have concentrated 90,000 troops there and that extensive land, sea and air defense practice operations are under way. They said the 81,235 ton liner Queen Mary had taken a contingent of Australian troops there and that a "large" British fleet was participating in the defense maneuvers.
From the Southeastern Missourian on February 6, 1950:

Liner Queen Mary Safe In Port After Rough Crossing of Atlantic
The Liner Queen Mary was safely docked here today after arriving 25 hours late with some 50 of her 1848 passengers nursing injuries suffered on a rough Atlantic crossing...the [ship] was not damaged during the stormy voyage which took a day longer than her usual four and a half days from New York.

Ship's doctor said about 50 casualties were dealt with on the trip but none were hospitalized. Three persons had broken bones. Most of the injuries were trivial, the doctor said.
From The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, on February 10, 1960:

'Fallout' Lands on Queen Mary
Feb. 9. (AP)--The parachute and instruments of a weather research balloon were found today hanging on a funnel of the liner Queen Mary.

It was believed the rig landed while the liner was in the English channel on her way to Southampton last night. A Cunard line spokesman described the landing as "A million-to-one chance."


05 February 2011


From The Bessemer Herald of Michigan USA on February 1, 1935:
An upper peninsula firm, the Birds Eye Veneer company, of Escanaba, was commissioned to supply 100,000 square feet of birds eye maple veneer to London to be used for the interior woodwork of the Queen Mary, palatial steamship that was launched by the merged Cunard and White Star lines in England last September. The veneer was shipped last week.

From The Sydney Morning Herald in 1940:
LONDON, Feb. 4
Mr. Kenneth Hugh McLean, a noted engineer who was born in Australia, died today. He was head of a Glasgow boat-building firm, and he designed unsinkable lifeboats for the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, and the Normandie. -A.A.P.

The Billings County Pioneer, Montana USA, reported on January 31, 1952, that Winston Churchill, while a passenger aboard the Queen Mary, saw two movies: Quartet and A Place in the Sun.

Video from British Pathe on February 3, 1966:


Photo of builders aboard Queen Mary: www.queenmary.com


28 January 2011

Blighty, Can You Spare a Dime?

This week in the history of the R. M. S. Queen Mary:

The New York Times reported on January 27, 1932 that Cunard was seeking a loan from the British government to continue its work on 534--the future Queen Mary.

Work on the giant Cunard liner, 534, depends mainly upon, whether the Government will extend to the company loan facilities similar to those under which the Lusitania and Mauretania were built before the war, it is apparent from a statement by the directors issued tonight.

From the Miami News on January 24, 1946:

The United States has offered Britain the use of 11 Liberty ships as a substitute for the arrangement under which American troops are ferried home aboard the Queen Mary at a tentative charge of $100 each.

Government officials said the offer has not yet been accepted.

Presumably, the British are weighing the need for troop carriers for their own Tommies and Colonials against that of reaching a settlement which would supplement their dollar credit in this country.

Since the end of lend-lease Sept. 2, the Queen Mary has brought home 84,804 American troops.

Together [with the Queen Elizabeth]--unless the present charge is reduced or the American offer of the Liberty ships is accepted--the total charge to this country would be $11,419,600 as of now.

While lend-lease still was in effect the British bore the cost of transporting GIs abroad the two "Queens" as part of the reverse lend-lease.

Technically, a fee of 20 pounds, or roughly $100, was assessed against this government for each man. This, however, was wiped out at the time of the final lend-lease settlement and did not involve any cash changing hands.

When lend-lease ended, the same charge was retained. But government officials said today this, too, is subject to revision when the job of bringing home the troops has been completed.

As compared with the tentative charge, the price of a one-way, third-class, transatlantic passage aboard one of the "Queens" before the war was approximately $86. Third class accommodations then, however, would be regarded as luxurious in comparison with the tier-on-tier arrangement now in effect.

From the video archive of British Pathe on January 29, 1953:

Mr. Churchill Arrives Back in the United Kingdom

The Toledo Blade reported on January 28, 1966 that faulty wiring in an electric motor aboard the Queen Mary caused a fire and sent fumes throughout the liner. She had just emerged from dry dock after her annual overhaul. No passengers were aboard and no crew were injured.