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

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