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