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Happy 80th, R.M.S. Queen Mary

RMS Queen Mary was and is one of the grandest Passenger liners ever
built. This giant of the sea offered luxury and a standard unequalled in
shipbuilding history. During her remarkable career, from her maiden
voyage in 1936 until this day, Queen Mary has played various roles, from
an elegant Ocean Liner, to a WWII trooper, then after 1001 Atlantic
crossings, RMS Queen Mary was preserved and became a fine hotel
and tourist facility in Long Beach California.

The Queen Mary’s official name is the RMS Queen Mary. The “RMS”
stands for Royal Mail Ship. The Royal Mail is like the United States
Postal Service.
When Samuel Cunard went into business for the Queen Mary, he landed
a contract for the Queen Mary to carry mail across the North Atlantic.
Other lines also carried the mail so it was not exclusive to Cunard. The
Queen Mary would often carry up to and sometimes more than 5,000
bags on a crossing!
This was another reason that speed and reliability were such important
features of an ocean liner. The Queen Mary took mail to Southampton,
Cherbourg, and New York.

“Queen M” Emerges

RMS Queen Mary was conceived in the late 1920’s and she was the first of a
pair of ships that was intended to provide a weekly service between
Southampton and New York. Ten years later, in December 1930, construction
finally began at the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland on what
was known as Hull number 534. However, a year later, on 11 December 1931
construction was halted due to a worldwide economic crisis, a time we all
know as the “Great Depression.”
Hull 534 languished until 3 April 1934, when due to a combination of a
government subsidy and a merger of the Cunard and White Star Line made it
possible for construction to restart in earnest.
Then came the day every one was waiting for, on 26 September 1934, this
huge ship was launched in the presence of His Majesty, King George V, and
his consort, Queen Mary. The public were overjoyed to learn that the Queen
officially permitted her name to be used on this grand liner.

December 1, 1930. The first keel plate is laid for Job 534 (Queen Mary's job number) at John Brown Shipyard.

December 10, 1931. All work on Job 534 (The Queen Mary's job number) is stopped due to the Great Depression.

June 11, 1931. Steelworkers working
on The QueenMary's hull.

1933 Queen Mary during the construction at Clydebank

Queen Mary's fourth propeller being hoisted onto the steamship Bradda at London Dock, on its way to Glasgow.

The stern of the new Cunard White Star liner
Queen Mary in George V Dock.

Prior to the Queen Mary's launch, the Clyde river had been dredged over a length of 1800 feet from the ramp and it had been widened to the length of the Queen
Mary. Photograph by: UPI

Approximately 200,000 people visited John Brown & Company shipyard on Clyde River in Scotland on September 26, 1934 to witness the launch of the Queen Mary.

The name of Job 534 was revealed when the Queen christened the Queen Mary on Sept. 26, 1934.

A Royal Launch Her Majesty Queen Mary and King George V at the ceremony to name and christen the RMS Queen Mary.

On September 26, 1934, the Queen (who had
consented to launch Job 534) became the first
reigning British monarch to perform this type of

A Royal Launch The official scissors.

A Royal Launch The special launch drew a crowd.

Approximately 2,350 tons of drag chain was used to check the Queen Mary's speed once her hull was placed into the water on Sept. 26, 1934.

This photo was taken shortly after Her
Majesty Queen Mary gave Job Number 534
her own name on September 26, 1934 at
John Brown Shipyards. The Queen Mary
floats proudly upon the River Clyde for the
first time. Tugs have taken charge of the
massive hull while cables and drag chains
used to stop the ship from going aground
on the shores of the little River Cart that
joins the Clyde are being removed. Several
master shipwrights are marveling at the
fruits of their labor. A proud and much
anticipated day for them all. Once the
chains and wires have been removed, the
big Cunard ship will be moved alongside
the slipway to the fitting out basin for

THE GLAMOUR YEARS: 1936 – 1939
Unprecedented luxury and forward-thinking technology make
the Queen Mary popular with British Royalty, Hollywood
celebrities and dignitaries alike, raising the bar for luxury
travel and ultimately becoming the grandest ocean liner ever

1936, The royal entourage, including King Edward VIII and a very young Queen Elizabeth II, tours the Queen Mary before her maiden voyage.

RMS Queen Mary historic maiden voyage to New
York commenced on Wednesday 27 May 1936. She departed fully
laden as bookings had been sold out long in advance. Apparently
the passenger list read like a page from the “Who’s Who.” First
class passengers included knights, ladies, dignitaries, and certain
famous artists. During her maiden voyage there were even two
stowaways found, they were retained and returned
to Southampton to face justice, but at least they sailed on the great
Queen Mary!

RMS Queen Mary exuded the elegance of a luxury hotel, housing all the
necessities to live a life full of style, fine dinning and the best of company. In
addition to the multitude of Lounges and Bars, there were also were two
chapels, a synagogue, a hospital, nurseries, and several children’s playrooms.
A travel Bureau had been located onboard for passengers to make hotel
reservations before their arrival at their final destination.
It would be precisely four days, 12 hours and 24 minutes that Queen Mary’s
maiden voyage concluded, arriving amid the kind of reception only New
York could generate. The harbour was filled with an awaiting armada of boats
and fire tugs with their water spouts, in addition thousands of well-wishers that
lined the shore. Her maiden voyage had a total compliment of 1,849
passengers and 1,186 officers and crew, thus she carried 3,035 souls across
the Atlantic on her first voyage.

1936, The Queen Mary departs for her maiden voyage.

1939, The Queen Mary departs from Southampton on a final peacetime voyage. She carried her largest number of passengers, 2,552, and Mr. and Mrs. Bob Hope.

May 27, 1936 Passengers anxiously await to board the Queen Mary before she departs for her maiden voyage.

A rare photograph of her maiden departure from Southampton – 4.30pm - May 27, 1936

New York Harbor June 1, 1936

1936, The Queen Mary arrives at Pier 90 in New York at 4:18 PM. Her crossing time: 5 days, 5 hours, and 13 minutes.

Five men were employed on each shift in each engine room aboard the Queen Mary. Shifts were 4 hours on and 8 hours off. Three officers manned the starting
platform, feed pumps and lube oil pumps.

The shafts and propellers turned at 172
revolutions per minute at cruising speed.

The Queen Mary's propellers are
made of maganese-bronze. The
propellers are 18 feet in diameter and
each blade is 7 feet tall.

Water was super-heated in the boilers to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.

There were three types of water used on board the Queen Mary- salt water, fresh water, and drinking water. Pictured here is the Water Softening Room where the
water was automatically chlorinated as it was pumped into the tank room.

The Queen Mary has three steam type whistles. Two on forward funnel, one on middle funnel. Each over 6 ft,. long, weighing 2,205 LB.

The Queen Mary required 3 million gallons of fuel for a round-trip voyage.Pictured are the oil fuel pumps in the boiler room.

Horsepower totaled 160,000 - 40,000 for each engine.

Depending on weather conditions and other factors, the Queen Mary took 4 1/2 to 5 days to cross the Atlantic. Her fastest crossing was in 1938 when she crossed
the Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, 20 hours, and 42 minutes.

Each anchor weighs 16 tons.

The Queen Mary required 10 miles to stop from cruising speed.

One lap completely around the Promenade Deck is equivalent to a quarter of a mile.

The 1st Class Dining Room was one of the largest rooms ever created on a ship.

The 1st Class Main Lounge was one of the few rooms which were air-conditioned in 1936.

THE WAR YEARS: 1939-1946
As England and France declare war on Germany, the Queen
Mary’s days as a passenger ocean liner appear over. With her
record-breaking speed and size, the Queen Mary is retrofitted to
serve as a troopship during World War II. Dubbed, the “Grey
Ghost,” the Queen Mary hauled as many as 15,000 men while
playing a pivotal role in guiding the allied forces to victory.

On August 30, 1939, the Queen Mary departed on her last peacetime voyage. The
following day the Nazis invaded Poland and for safety reasons the Queen Mary was
ordered to run a zigzag course under blackout conditions. Comedian Bob Hope was
one of the celebrities onboard during this final voyage before the start of WWII.
Adolph Hitler offered $250,000 and the Iron Cross to any U-boat Captain that could
sink the Queen Mary
The Queen Mary collided with the Curacoa, which was acting as escort, and cut the
smaller cruiser in half. The Curacoa was found at fault for the accident as the Queen
Mary followed her typical zigzag course to avoid German U-boats.
The Queen Mary was the largest and fastest troopship during WWII. Resumed
Peacetime Passenger Service July 31, 1947
Winston Churchill traveled on the Queen Mary three times during WWII and
considered it his headquarters at sea. In fact, he even signed the D-Day Declaration
onboard. Winston Churchill said, “Built for the arts of peace and to link the old world
with the new, the Queens challenged the fury of Hitlerism in the battle of the Atlantic.
Without their aid, the day of final victory must unquestionably have been postponed.”

The Queen Mary made 72 wartime voyages.

Her luxurious furnishings were removed and replaced by tiers of bunks
and hammocks. For protection, a number of small calibre guns were fitted,
however, as it is said, her main protection was her impressive speed.
On May 4, 1940, she left for the Clyde with over 5,000 troops of the
Australian Imperial Force on board, arriving on June 16. Thereafter she
headed for Singapore carrying troops due to the Japanese threat of the
region. After an overhaul in Singapore, she returned to Sydney after which
she commenced her five-year long trooping duties, during which time she
transported over 800,000 troops.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill credited the Queen Mary for shortening
the war by as much as a year. At the conclusion of the war, she continued
to transport troops, war brides and their baby’s home until 1946.

The Queen Mary departs New York for Sydney, Australia to be fitted as a troopship. The Queen Mary's accommodations increase from 2,140 to 5,550.

Australian soldiers board the ship that became known as the “Grey Ghost”

Three unidentified men on board RMS Queen Mary near Port Jackson in Sydney, May 1940

Lounges were filled with bunks, up to the ceiling.

The magnificent Interior, during the war were replaced with hospital beds and other troopfacilities

New York March 1940, L to R: SS Normandie, RMS Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth

February 18, 1942. First day of the "40 Days and 40 Nights" voyage from Boston to Sydney, Australia. This is also the first time the Queen Mary carries American troops.

1943, The Queen Mary carries the greatest
number of souls on a floating vessel: 15,740
troops and 943 crew for a grand total of

1943, Winston Churchill returns to Gourock, Scotland with 15,116 troops on board. Churchill traveled on the Queen Mary three times during WWII and considered it
his headquarters at sea. In fact, he even signed the D-Day Declaration onboard.

1944 R.M.S. Queen Mary

RMS Queen Mary arrives in New York harbour, 20 June 1945, with thousands of U.S. troops from Europe. The Queen Mary still wears her light grey war paint.

1946 photo of the Queen Mary passing her sister ship, Queen Elizabeth in background, after a record run from Halifax, Canada, to Southhampton, England, in three
days, 15 hours and 48 minutes. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was a passenger.

February 3, 1946. War bride voyages begin. Over a 7-month span, the Queen Mary made thirteen voyages to transport over 22,000 European brides and children to
the United States and Canada.

RMS Queen Mary, decks full of troops, during World War II.

After completing her wartime duties, Queen Mary was refitted and
recommenced her transatlantic service in July of 1947. However,
she had lost the title of “flagship” as she was now joined by her
newer and somewhat larger sister, RMS Queen Elizabeth.
The two Queens were the most successful and profitable ships in
the history of the North Atlantic. Both departed Southampton
and New York with a full complement during the 50’s. Passengers
had to book many months in advance in order to guarantee a
passage aboard the Queen’s.

This very special photograph was taken on September 27, 1947. We see The Queen Mary still in hew war colours as she was just concluding her war duties on this

1958, The Queen Mary has a record turn around in New York of 17 hours, 58 minutes.

The Duke & Duchess Of Windsor. Edward VIII was the son of Queen Mary, the ship’s namesake. The couple traveled the ship often, calling it “their ship.” They always
booked the same suite, M58 on the Main Deck, which is now called the “Windsor Suite.”
During one voyage in 1948, the couple brought with them 120 pieces of luggage and their dogs.

Happy Birthday to Clark Gable! He sailed on the Queen Mary on July 9, 1948

1951, Walt Disney travels aboard the Queen Mary.

January 15, 1953. Winston Churchill
on board the Queen Mary to visit
President-elect Eisenhower.

The 1960s were a decade of major change and with the
rise of popularity in air travel; ocean liners were slowly
becoming obsolete. The old world luxury and sensibilities
of the Queen Mary seemed outdated in a modern world
now transfixed on the notion of space exploration.

1966, The Queen Mary is in King George V Graving Dock. She has her fastest turn-around in a drydock.

However, in the 60’s, air travel became popular and most transatlantic
liners became the dinosaurs of the sea. By the mid 60’s, sadly there were
many times that the Queen Mary was carrying more crew than
passengers. Thus, with the ship no longer being profitable, Cunard
placed Queen Mary on the market in 1967.

However, in the 60’s, air travel became popular and most
transatlantic liners became the dinosaurs of the sea. By the
mid 60’s, sadly there were many times that the Queen Mary
was carrying more crew than passengers. Thus, with the ship
no longer being profitable, Cunard placed Queen Mary on the
market in 1967.

Ship breakers quickly made an offer, but fortunately,
the Californian City of Long Beach made a better tender of $3,450,000 for
her. The city planned to turn the Queen Mary into a grand tourist attraction
and a city icon. The result was the “Hotel Queen Mary,” convention and
entertainment center and museum. As the Queen Mary was loved by millions
around the world, she was responsible for placing the City of Long Beach on
the world map.
For her final voyage to Long Beach, a New York travel organisation chartered
her for what was officially classified as a cruise. She
departed Southampton with great fanfare, as countless of thousands came to
see the Grand Dame depart her homeport. Flying high from her aft mast was
the long white banner, the length indicating her long years of service.
Helicopters flew high above saying a sad farewell to RMS Queen Mary. Her
departure remains in the annuals of British maritime history!

On Dec. 9, 1967, the Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach after a
39-day voyage from England. The city of Long Beach
purchased the 31-year-old vessel, which was slated for the
scrap heap, for $3.45 million to serve as its waterfront
About 1,200 passengers, paying $8,000 each, took the final
voyage. Being too wide for the Panama Canal, the Queen Mary
sailed around the tip of South America to reach Long Beach.

December 9, 1967. The Queen Mary docks in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard at Pier E. More than 5,000 small crafts (such as yachts and sailboats) escorted the
Queen Mary on her final voyage. At 12:09 PM, Captain Jones rang up, "Finished with engines."

Dec. 9, 1967: A fleet of small craft join in the celebration as the 81,000-ton Queen Mary arrives in Long Beach.

On 11 December, ownership was officially transferred from Cunard to
the City of Long Beach. After thirty-one years, RMS Queen Mary was
removed from the British Registry of Ships. Queen Mary underwent a
massive three and a half year, $72,000,000 refit, seeing her giant
propellers permanently removed. In May 1971, the stately ‘Hotel Queen
Mary’ was officially opened. Her new berth has meant the preservation
of this great liner and a venue that is a “must” for all holidaymakers from
around the world!

Dec. 11, 1967: Capt. J. Treasure Jones of the Queen Mary and Long Beach Mayor Edwin W. Wade simultaneously sign papers transferring the liner to Long Beach.

June 1968: The Queen Mary, right, at Pier E during renovation in Long Beach, alongside the battleship New Jersey. About 45,000 people visited the battleship on the
weekend of June 15-16, 1968, before the ship sailed on June 17 for San Diego.

Aug. 20, 1970: One of the Queen Mary's four 35-ton propellers is lowered onto a concrete pedestal in front of the California Museum of Science and Industry after an
overnight trip from Long Beach under police escort.

July 5, 1981: A crowd forms at the Queen Mary for a free Beach Boys concert.

A 1987 aerial photo of the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose attractions.

Queen Mary in Sydney Harbour, May 1940

RMS Queen Mary in 1936.

RMS Queen Mary in 1936.



Happy 80th, R.M.S. Queen Mary

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