Today, 27th May 2016, marks the 80th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the RMS Queen Mary. Following construction at John Brown’s shipyard on the Clyde, the Queen Mary set sail from Southampton, arriving in New York on 1st June 1936.
Serving the lucrative passenger trade crossing the Atlantic, the RMS Queen Mary was designed not only to be fast, but also to be luxurious. There was fierce competition in the market; the Queen Mary and her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, were the Cunard-White Star Line’s key assets in securing a coveted position at the top of the trade.
We’re celebrating the 80th anniversary as, here at Archive Services, we hold the records of the construction of the RMS Queen Mary in the archive of John Brown & Company (ref: GB 0248 UCS1). These sources provide meticulous detail on the commissioning, construction and launch of Hull number 534; from the contract, the drawings and plans of each area of the ship, and the books detailing the costs of labour and materials, through to the programme for the launch of the ship on 26th September 1934 by King George V and Queen Mary.
The Moving Image Archive has a lovely film of the Queen Mary sailing from the Clyde in March 1936: ‘Mauretania’ and ‘RMS Queen Mary’. British Pathe also makes available its coverage of the Queen Mary setting out on her maiden voyage at Southampton: The Queen Mary’s maiden voyage to New York.
If you missed it, a new documentary The Queen Mary: Greatest Ocean Liner (featuring the John Brown Archive) is available on the BBC iPlayer (for 30 days following first broadcast on BBC Scotland on 24th May 2016).