Mauretania 100th anniversary of maiden voyage


Eric Longo


Hi All,

Today, November 16, 2007, marks the centennial of the maiden voyage of the Cunard Express Liner R.M.S. Mauretania. Some of you may remember I have been working, with the assistance of Rob Kamps, on a large article to be published today in observance of this anniversary. Unfortunately, this is not to be for several reasons, not the least of which is an injury to the nerves in my right arm that prevents me from working right now. I may not regain mobility for some time, so until then I provide the links below to a "promo" image and just one of the dozens of unpublished candid images that will be in the finished work, which will be made available for all online as my recovery permits.

Best wishes,

<font color="000000">Old Lady of the Atlantic

<font color="ff6000">The Club Mauretania, July 1934

Richard Jenkins

Happy 100th anniversary to my all-time favorite ship, the Grand Old Lady of the Atlantic, the RMS Mauretania.

RMS Mauretania

Eric Longo

Hi Andy,

Thanks very much for the good wishes. Hope you are well.

Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Not everybody loved Mauretania. Here's a rare fireman's song about her.

Firing the Mauretania

In nineteen hundred twenty four,
Found myself in Liverpool on the floor,
So I went to the Cunard office door,
Got a job on the Mauretania.

Chorus: Oh, firing the Mauretania,
She surely is a slaver.
To Hell with the Mauretania.

The Mauretania's stokehold's a wonderful sight
Sixty-four fires a-burning bright,
But you'll shovel coal from morning to night
A-firing the Mauretania.

The coal was so hard and full of slate
And that's what got to the four-to-eight,
It very soon wearied the four-to-eight
A-firing the Mauretania.

The eight-to-twelve were much better men
But they were weary by half part ten,
So tired and weary by half past ten
A-firing the Mauretania.

The fan's on the bum and fire won't draw
And that's what got to the twelve-to-four,
It very soon buggered the twelve-to-four,
A-firing the Mauretania.

So come all you firemen, listen to me,
The Mauretania spells purgatory,
Stick to the coast, don't go deep sea,
A-firing the Mauretania.

I don't know the tune, as I've only heard it sung once, by a local shanty group.

Eric Longo

Hi Dave,

I've incorporated that song and another as well in my article - the second being from 1935. When I first found the song you posted, which was apparently from the folksinging of Colin "Red" Sullivan, I thought about it's accuracy. I take the song with a small tablespoon of fuel oil as she was, in 1924, no longer burning the coal lamented repeatedly in the song. The tune is on Sullivan and Windsor's "Troubadour" album, if you can locate a copy. It is also available on Alan Francis's 2003 CD Last Year's Love. There is no accompaniment other than "engine reverb".
She was an incredible liner, but had her share of rough spots to be sure. Her maiden voyage, sometimes glossed clean over, was a nightmare of very rough seas with damage to windows, twisted or split railings a dangerous loose spare anchor flying about on the bow. Of course, she won the Ribband on the way back. On her second crossing she ran aground in the Mersey before even departing, broke away from her pier in New York and sank the Alice P. Rogers, almost killing the Captain of the Eureka barge in the process. However, what she did in response to the Bremen in July 1929 was truly incredible.


Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 17 November 1907

Immense Crowd Cheers Her as She Moves Out of Liverpool with Her 2,000
CARRIES £2,800,000 GOLD
Enormous Insurance Written on Her and Her Cargo--Nearly All British
Underwriters Concerned
By Marconi Transatlantic Wireless Telegraph to THE NEW YORK TIMES
LONDON, Nov. 16---Insurance amounting to nearly $5,000,000 was placed on the
Mauretania just prior to her sailing for New York to-day. Of this amount
$4,000,000 is allotted to policies covering all risks of marine perils,
including fire, while the balance is apportioned against a total loss only,
which is understood to include the Government subsidy.

The value of the turbines and other machinery of the vessel alone runs into
no less than $1,500,000, and the total amount of risk, which is returned by
the underwriters as one of the best they have ever booked, is so large that
practically every marine insurance of­fice, not only in London, but in
Liver­pool and Glasgow as well, participates in the business.

With the exception of the Lusitania's risk, this insurance placed on the
Mauretania is by far heavier than that on a single merchant vessel.
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
LONDON, Nov. 16---THE NEW YORK TIMES's correspondent at Liverpool telegraphs
that the Mauretania was dispatched to-night upon her maiden voyage amid
scenes paralleled only on the occasion of the departure of the Lusitania.

Interest was greatly accentuated in one respect, that is, by the fact that
the Mauretania is taking with her to relieve the money crisis in America a
large consignment of gold.

The Mauretania's gold shipment is nearly £2,800,000, which exceeds the
Lusitania's consignment by about £300,000.

Several hours prior to the vessel's departure the landing stage on the river
front was thronged with thousands of sightseers, who, with umbrel­las
upraised, bravely held their ground under the most cheeerless conditions.
The blaze of the illumination from stem to stern as the Mauretania was
berthed at the landing stage presented a mag­nificent spectacle.

The signal for departure was given shortly before 8 o'clock, and the vessel
glided down the river to the accompaniment of intermittent bursts of
cheering and the din of hooting sirens.
LIVERPOOL, Nov. 16---The departure to-day of the Cunard steamship Mauretania
on her first transatlantic voyage inspired the mighty crowd that had
assembled on the landing stage to a degree of enthusiasm equal to that
shown when her sister ship, the Lusitania, sailed away from Liverpool on her
first voyage a few months ago.

The weather was cold and rain was falling, but thousands of persons turned
out in the darkness to shout farewell to the latest of all the ocean

The giant Cunarder was a remarkable spectacle with her many tiers of
electric lights glittering when she was towed into the stream at 7:30 P. M.
Whistles were blown and people cheered.

Considering the season, the Mauretania carried an unusual number of
passengers, of whom there were 300 in the first cabin, while the second
cabin and the steerage were booked nearly, to the limit, making a total of
2,000 passengers aboard.

The passengers included Prince Andre Poniatowski, Princess de Poix, Sir
Clif­ton and Lady Robinson, Prof. Berlitz, Anthony J. Drexel, S. S. McClure,
Denis O'Sullivan, and the Hon. J. J. Ast­ley. Two steamer trains brought the
first-cabin passengers from London.

The consignment of gold carried by the Mauretania is believed to be the
largest ever transported on one vessel. It was conveyed to the steamer on
six cars, which were specially guarded. It amounts to over £2,500,000.

The commander of the new steamship is Capt. Pritchard, who began life as a
cabin boy on a Welsh coaster.

The Cunard officials say that no special attempt will be made to break the
record on the first voyage; nevertheless, great things are expected.
The Mauretania was built on the Tyne, and her sister, the Lusitania, which
now holds the record, was built on the Clyde and there is keen interest as
to which of the rival builders will make the better showing.


Eric Longo

Dear Mark,

Thanks for the read. Was looking forward to this post after following your recent Lusitania mv thread. Excellent material.


Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 18 November 1907

Runs Into a Strong Wind and Rough Head Sea
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
LONDON, Nov. 17---THE NEW YORK TIMES's correspondent aboard the Mauretania
sends me by wireless tele­graph, via Crookhaven, the following message,
dated at 6 o'clock P. M. Sun­day:

"We are now 163 miles out from Queenstown, proceeding at the rate of 24
knots an hour. We passed Daunts Light at 11:03 this morning.

"There is a heavy sea and a strong head wind and the vessel is rolling

"The chief engineer says the engines are working admirably."
QUEENSTOWN, Nov. 17---The steamer Mauretania, on her maiden voyage to the
United States, was 207 miles west of Fastnet at 10 o'clock to-night As she
left Queenstown at 11 o'clock this morning, her position shows her to have
made 265 miles in 11 hours.

The Mauretania did not attempt to make speed on her way from Liverpool down
here, as she only steamed from 19 to 21 knots an hour. She arrived here at
8:35 o'clock this morning, and transferred the mails and passengers. Those
who made the trip from Liverpool are loud in their praise of the splendid
appointments of the new Cunarder. There was no hitch in the engine
department, and everything went most satisfactorily. Capt. Pritchard said he
had never sailed in a vessel that behaved so sweetly or steered so well.

When getting under way to leave Queenstown the huge vessel swung around in
almost her own length. She entered and left this harbor at almost low tide.
She passed Roche's Point outward-bound at 10:48 A. M. A great number of
excursionists came into Queenstown to-day to see the new liner.
Comparing the above dispatches, it appears that between 6 and 10 P, M. the
Mauritania ran 102 knots, or an average of 25.5 knots an hour.


Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 20 November 1907

Her First Full Day's Run Consequently is Only 571 Knots
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
LONDON, Nov. 19---A wireless message from Sir Clifton Robinson, who is a
passenger aboard the new Cunard liner Mauretania, shows that her speed has
been greatly lessened by bad conditions.

He reports that the vessel's first full day's run was only 571 knots. The
weather was unfavorable for high speed, as the Mauretania was running in a
strong southwest gale and was meeting fairly heavy seas.
ON BOARD THE STEAMSHIP MAURETANIA, By Wireless Telegraph Via Crookhaven,
Nov. 19, A. M.---The Mauretania ran into a southwest gale Monday morning,
which increased in the afternoon, until at 3 o'clock we had to reduce speed
for one hour and forty minutes. Full speed was then resumed. The
passengers generally were not aware of the speed reduction.

The run up to noon yesterday (Monday) was 571 miles.

The seas were so heavy that the extra anchor had to be secured with extra
The Cunard Company received no messages from the Mauretania yesterday. They
thought it highly probable that she would beat the record made by the
Lusitania and pass the lightship an hour or two earlier on Thursday night.

An official of the Cunard Line said yesterday that the Mauretania would be
open for inspection to the public next Wednesday at 50 cents per person, the
receipts to be devoted to charity. The visitors will be escorted over the
ship by stewards detailed for the purpose.


Lucy Burkhill

Hi Mark,

Thanks for sharing these fascinating accounts of Mauretania's maiden voyage with us. It's always a pleasure to read primary source material such as this. It's a glimpse into a world long since vanished, and one which will we will never see again, that's for sure!



Mark Baber

Staff member
Oops...looks like I blew it...the Mauretania article just above, originally posted with a date of 19 November, was really published on 20 November, and has now been redated. The real 19 November article will appear shortly.