Little Bits of History

Cunard Line

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2013
Sir Thomas Royden

Sir Thomas Royden

April 3, 1929: The annual meeting for Cunard Line takes place. Chairman Sir Thomas Royden announced a new ship was to be built. It wasn’t until a year later on May 28, 1930 that John Brown and Company, LTD was named as the builder. The company formed in 1851 and soon earned a reputation for solid ship building. John Brown took over the shipyard in 1899 and the company entered it Golden Age building both luxury liners and battle cruisers.

Between the World Wars, recession hit the company with devastating results. If not for the Cunard Line’s order, they may have folded. With the order for ship #534, John Brown and Co. could survive. The first keel plate was laid on December 1, 1930. With a worldwide depression, loans were no longer available and work halted on December 11, 1931. The hull plating was 80% completed and the ship stood 9 stories tall. Cunard and White Star Lines merged. On March 27, 1934 the North Atlantic Shipping (Advances) bill passed. The British Treasury advanced £4,500,000 to complete order #534. On April 3, 1934, 28 months after the work stoppage, work resumed on the ship.

On September 26, 1934 job #534 was launched and christened RMS Queen Mary. Two days later she was moved to a fitting out basin and boilers, engines, and all heavy machinery was installed. On November 6, 1935 the funnels and masts were completed. On March 5, 1936 King Edward VIII made an inspection tour and on March 24 the Queen Mary departed the shipyard – only to be grounded twice while going down the Clyde River. Finally, on May 12, 1936 at noon, the ship was officially handed over to the Cunard White Star Line.

The Queen Mary made her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. In August 1939, she was an early victim of war when she was forced to remain in port. The beautiful luxury liner was refitted as a troop ship. Between 1940 and 1946 she carried 765,429 military personnel and traveled 569,429 miles. She carried up to 15,000 troops at a time. Winston Churchill was delivered to three conferences via the ship. She once again became a luxury liner on July 31, 1947 after one more refitting. She was retired from service on September 19, 1967 after making 1,001 crossings of the Atlantic.

“If you want to launch big ships, you have to go where the water is deep.” – Sondra Hilton

“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” – the Bible

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Never a ship sails out of bay but carries my heart as a stowaway.” – Roselle Mercier Montgomery

This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Eventually, a new Queen Mary was built and RMS Queen Mary 2 is run by the Carnival Corporation & PLC. She is the flagship of the Cunard Line and is the only transatlantic liner running between Southampton and New York. The ship was ordered on November 6, 2000 and STX Europe Chantier de l’Atlantique of Saint-Nazaire, France was the builder. She was laid down on July 4, 2002 and christened on January 8, 2004 by Queen Elizabeth II after her completion on December 23, 2003. Her maiden voyage came on January 12, 2004. Queen Mary 2 cost £460 million ($900 million) to build. She is 1,132 feet long and 135 feet wide at the waterline and 147.5 feet wide at the widest part. She has 13 passenger decks and her carrying capacity is 2,620 passengers with 1,253 officers and crew.

Also on this day: A new boxing record set – In 1936, a new record for shortest fight.
Speedy Snail Mail – In 1860, The Pony Express began service.
 Old Smokey – In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was executed.