Mauretania 100th anniversary of maiden voyage


Eric Longo

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R.M.S. MAURETANIA MV CENTENNIAL 1907-2007

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regain mobility for some time, so until then I provide the links below to a "promo" image and just one of the dozens of unpublished candid images that will be in the finished work, which will be made available for all online as my recovery permits.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,
Eric

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

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

Dave Gittins

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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

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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.

Best,
Eric
 

Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 17 November 1907

MAURETANIA SAILS ON MAIDEN VOYAGE
---
Immense Crowd Cheers Her as She Moves Out of Liverpool with Her 2,000
Passengers
---
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
greyhounds.

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.

-30-
 

Eric Longo

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Dear Mark,

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

Best,
Eric
 

Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 18 November 1907

MAURETANIA MAKING 24 KNOTS
---
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
slightly.

"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.

-30-
 

Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 20 November 1907

MAURETANIA IN A STORM
---
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
lashings.
-----
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.

-30-
 

Lucy Burkhill

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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!

Regards,

Lucy
 

Mark Baber

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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.

Sorry.
 

Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 19 November 1907

MAURETANIA'S 24 2-3 KNOTS
---
Covered 370 Miles in First Fifteen Hours from Queenstown
---
QUEENSTOWN, Nov. 18---The Cunard Line steamer Mauretania, which left
Queenstown at 11 o'clock yesterday morning on her maiden voyage to New
York, was 300 miles west of Brow Head at 2 o'clock this morning.
-----
The distance from Queenstown to Brow Head is seventy miles, and,
therefore, the Mauretania at 2 o'clock this morning had covered 370
miles since leaving Queenstown at 11 o'clock yesterday morning, making
an average of about 24 2-3 knots.

-30-
 

Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 21 November 1907

BIG ANCHOR LOOSE ON THE MAURETANIA
---
Torn from Its Lashings by Heavy Seas It Thrashes About Upon the Deck
---
THE CAPTAIN SECURES IT
---
Steamship Later Came Into Good Weather and Smooth Seas and Put on Great
Speed
---
By Wireless Telegraph from THE TIMES's Correspondent on Board
---
STEAMSHIP MAURETANIA, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6 P. M. (via Cape Race,
Newfoundland)---After having battled for three days with the head winds
and heavy seas of a strong gale the Mauretania this afternoon began to
show the speed that is in her. She was able to log only 571 knots for
the day ending at noon Monday, 461 to noon Tuesday, and 563.ending at
noon today.

She has put on speed this afternoon, however, and at this hour is going
at 25 knots an hour, with every prospect that at noon to-morrow she will
hang up a record for a day's run that will be better than the
Lusitania's 618 knots. It is expected that she will arrive at Sandy Hook
at daybreak on Friday.

The small figures put up for the second day's run were due to an
exciting incident on Monday night. While the ship was plunging into the
head seas some of them tore one of the heavy anchors from its lashings
on the forecastle deck. The following seas and the roll of the ship set
it to dancing about the deck and there was danger that damage
would be done to the bow plates or the deck.

Capt. Pritchard, who was on the bridge, ordered that speed be reduced,
and he then went forward and personally directed a force of men who
tried to capture the runaway. It was the Captain himself who finally put
a line on the anchor by which it was lashed fast.

The storm which the Mauretania has finally left behind was a fierce one.
First there was a southwest gale, heavy clouds, and high seas. Then the
wind suddenly shifted to the northwest and the clouds cleared away, but
the gale was cold and went whistling through the rigging. The wind is
now light and the sea is smooth.

The failure of the Mauretania to make higher speed even in the face of
adverse conditions is attributable to the inability to drive the
propellers to their capacity. There has been insufficient steam because
the stoking force has not yet been whipped into efficient shape.
----------
SABLE ISLAND, N. S., Nov. 10 [sic]---The new Cunard line steamer
Mauretania was 320 miles east of Sable Island at 3 P. M. to-day. She was
in communication with the wireless station here at that time. Other
vessels to the eastward report fine weather.
----------
The Cunard Line received a Marconi message yesterday from Capt.
Pritchard of the steamer Mauretania stating that at 10 A. M. yesterday
the steamer was 1,152 miles east of Sandy Hook Lightship.

Her runs for three days were as follows: Nov. 18, 571 knots; Nov. 19,
461 knots; Nov. 20, 563 knots.

-30-
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>BIG ANCHOR LOOSE ON THE MAURETANIA <<

Not a good thing in heavy seas. That was some first class seamanship...to say nothing of guts...to get this thing secured before it had a chance to do some real damage.
 

Eric Longo

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Hi Mark, Hi Mike,

Mark - thanks again for posting such wonderful information!

Mike - yes, not an ideal situation to be sure! When my article finally does appear online there will be a very sharp unpublished photograph from my collections of her in New York after her maiden arrival that I purchased from Canada. Surprisingly, it does not show much/any of the damage that has been mentioned in the older books that contain excellent coverage of this hellish voyage. Taken and posted on the morning of Saturday, November 30th, this one-off photocard both shows and describes the fog that hampered her initial departure for the maiden eastbound voyage as well.
On her second arrival in New York in December she had another brush with disaster which I mentioned earlier in this thread. A detailed description, unpublished photographs and a diagram of this event can be seen <font color="ff6000">here. Also of interest are views of the original White Star sheds.

Best wishes,
Eric
 

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