Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Last of the Four Funnel Liners

This afternoon we decided to make the most of the sunshine and had a walk round Lytham, to find there was an antiques fair in the Lowther Pavilion.

I came across a postcard sent from New York on November 7 1924 by a passenger who had just arrived on the Cunard ship Mauritania (although the postcard shows the later Aquitania).

Evidently the crossing had not been as smooth as Babs would have liked.

Indeed she was so disoriented on arriving back on terra firma that she inadvertantly wrote her message with the postcard upside down, realising and rotating it before writing the address of her friend on Central Drive, Blackpool.

She wrote:

Dear all,

Here I am in U.S.A. Sailed 1st Nov on "Mauritania" it's been 6 long days and very rough. Hope to winter in Bermuda and Nassau but will write you soon.

Hope you are all well.

Best love and Cheerio,

The Mauritania was built on the Tyne and her maiden voyage was on 16 November 1907. She won the Blue Riband for the fastest westbound Atlantic crossing in 1909 with a record that stood until twenty years later. Even on her final Atlantic crossing in 1934 she managed 24 knots, the original speed she had to meet in order to secure the mail contract when brand new. She was on her way back to England to be scrapped, docking in Southampton next to the Olympic, sister ship to the ill-fated Titanic and also awaiting the scrapyard.

One of her former Masters, Sir Arthur Rostron came to see her leave Southampton for the Rosyth shipbreakers. He had captained the RMS Carpathia during the Titanic rescue.

And what of the Aquitania? She was the last of the great ocean liners with four funnels. Built on Clydebank and launched on 21 April 1913 she was one of the first post-Titanic-disaster ships to be fitted with enough lifeboats for all crew and passengers, two of which were fitted with Marconi radio transmitters.

A month after her maiden voyage the First World War broke out and she acted as both a troop carrier and hospital ship during the war.

She served during the Second World War also and her long service ended in 1949, precipitated when a piano fell through the floor of one deck, crashing down into the dining room below and upsetting a corporate luncheon that was taking place... Her 36 years of service made her the longest serving Express Liner of her time, a record only broken by the Queen Elizabeth II.

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