RMS Queen Mary, A Truly Grand Ocean Liner of a Bygone ERA

queen-mary-bowAn iconic landmark on the Long Beach waterfront since her arrival in 1967, the RMS Queen Mary is undoubtedly one of the world’s last, grand, old trans-Atlantic ocean liners. While initially built to ferry passengers across the Atlantic, before the onset of air travel, she also spent the war years as a troop carrier. As a passenger liner, she carried multiple classes of passengers, from those expecting the ultimate luxury experience, to steerage class that slept in multi-bunk dormitories.

RMS Queen Mary, built on the River Clyde in Scotland, was one of the many famous ships built by John Brown & Company (Cldyebank). This famous shipyard also built the first ship I worked on, and is a mere 10 miles from where I was born.

Construction commenced in 1st December 1930, with laying the keel, and continued until December 1931, when the Great Depression brought construction to a grinding halt. Once Cunard secured a loan from the UK Government, and then merged with White Star Line, construction resumed, with the ship being launched on 26th September 1934. Finally completed in 1936, construction took 3 1/2 years and cost UKP 3.5 million. She set sail from Southampton, on her maiden voyage, on 27th May 1936.


Queen Mary’s Bridge

While some ship’s engineers may have a contrary opinion; but, in my opinion, as the command centre, this is the most important part of a ship. Note – while 2 wheels were fitted, only 1 was used at any time.


View of the bow, or Foc’s’le from the Bridge Wing

The 2 sets of derricks, or mast cranes, were used to load cargo into the forward cargo holds. Many passengers would travel with huge trunks and even motor vehicles. SS Oriana had a similar arrangement, and as a cadet, it was frequently one of my jobs to get the gear rigged and operational, then supervise the Longshoremen, who did the actual loading and securing.


Foc’s’le with the Anchors

The anchors are substantial, hardly surprising for a ship of this size. Anchor and chain specifications:

  • Two anchors, each weighing 16 tons
  • Anchor height – 18′
  • Chain length – 11 shackles or 990′
  • Each chain weighs 45 tons
  • Each individual link in the anchor chain is 2′ in length and weighs 224 lbs

Wood for the ship was sourced all over the British Empire and is not laminated, this is all solid wood.


Rich, highly polished wood bulkheads in First Class

First Class Stairwells


Covered Promenade Deck

On most ships, the Promenade Deck is normally open to the elements, but this arrangement would have been really appreciated by passengers, out for a stroll, during the winter Atlantic crossings.


On board shops

On the newer generation of cruise ships this area would be known as the Atrium, with a plethora of extra fee restaurants, bars and shops.



Lounge at Fwd End of Queen Mary

You can actually sit in the lounge and enjoy a drink from the bar.


Boat Deck


One of the lifeboats – needs a little work

While Judi & I just wandered around slowly, you can reserve a room aboard, join a guided tour, or attend one of about 4 presentations held on board. By only wandering around the ship, we still have an excuse to return at a later date, for the presentations.

5 thoughts on “RMS Queen Mary, A Truly Grand Ocean Liner of a Bygone ERA

    • Melissa,

      While I have worked on many older passenger vessels – Oriana, Canberra & Uganda, the QM was truly spectacular and definitely way better than my previous experience.

      Staying afloat is easy, provided the hull is intact. It is amazing that trapping air within the hull, keeps everything afloat.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Andrew, Very impressive, I have a distant memory of the launching. Mum and Dad took me up to the Gleniffer Braes just beyond Johnstone along with several hundred people to watch the Launch which was about 6 miles away. I can just remember dad holding a huge set of binoculars for me to see. what an occasion for a 5 year old Dad.

    Liked by 1 person

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