News from 1935: Sale of Mauretania's fitting

Mark Baber

News from 1935: Sale of Mauretania's fittings

The Evening Post, Wellington, 19 June 1935
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site,
Papers Past

£15,000 REALISED

Although the Mauretania's next voyage from Southampton docks is to her
funeral at Rosyth, the sting may be taken from her death by a scheme both
novel and romantic, says a "Daily Telegraph" reporter. During the eight
days' auction of her furniture and appointments the largest buyer was a
London cigar merchant and hotelier, Mr. Walter Martin. Of the 3500 lots,
something like 1000, including all the panelling of the public rooms, fell
to him.

When I spoke to him at the end of the sale he did not deny that he thought
of building in Guernsey a Hotel Mauretania, in which would be placed much of
the liner's woodwork and fittings.

If the scheme matures, the hotel's nameplates will be formed of the 2ft
brass lettering from the ship's port bow and stern, which Mr. Martin bought
for £213. He also paid £120 for twenty of the thirty lots from the captain's
quarters, which realised nearly £200.

The last day was the most interesting of the whole sale, since among its 550
lots were most of the objects which people might be expected to want for
their associations rather than their use---the bell, the wheel, the boats,
the flags, and the instruments. Hitherto the bidding had been
matter-of-fact, among about 200 people. But on the final day 500 crowded the
tourist smoke-room ("Smoking Strictly Prohibited"), and even dealers let
feeling add guineas to their bids.

On the auctioneer's table stood two small glass-cased models of the
Mauretania, and more are to be made from her timbers for those willing to
pay two guineas for such a remembrance.


The auctioneer appealed quite frankly to the sentiment of final
things---"The last day ... a famous ship ... the Blue Riband ..." But at
first the hearts of his audience showed little inclination to get the better
of their heads. A dealer secured all the pine panelling of the third-class
dining saloon for £20, and an offer of 10s for as many bunks brought from
the auctioneer the disgusted comment: "And some people want souvenirs of the

Ten lanterns went at about a pound apiece, and Mr. Martin was able to get
500 coat hangers for £2.

It was the captain's cabins that started reason's abdication. People
competed keenly for the armchair in which Sir Arthur Rostron, the
Mauretania's commander, most often sat. At last it went for l0 1/2gs to a
Mrs. Raynes, of Finchley, who told me that she would give it to her
13-year-old son, with whom ships are a passion.

Sir Edward Cunard, a great-grandson of the company's founder, bought a
wardrobe. Then a London engineer, Mr. Douglas Sessions, bought the chartroom
complete for £30, with the idea of incorporating it in a new house.
Afterwards he paid £6 10s for the two "A's" of the starboard bow lettering,
which was sold letter by letter. Of these he will make a gong.

The Mauretania's set of code flags was split into sixes for the benefit of
souvenir-hunters, but the whole set was bought by another considerable
bidder, Mr. H. J. W. Sandrey, Lloyd's agent for the Scilly Isles, who said
he had no idea what he would do with his purchases.


A Mr. J. S. Williamson, of Kirkcudbright, paid £3 15s for a small house flag
because he took his honeymoon on the Mauretania.

The lifeboats---too big for sentimental, and too expensive to convert to
practical purposes---went at bargain prices. They cost £250 to £300 to
build. They were knocked down to various bidders at from 7 to 21 guineas.

Mr. Sandrey paid 65 guineas for the ship's bell. Lifebuoys were about a
fiver apiece. The letter "M" will hang in the home of a Reading seed
merchant who made several trips in the Mauretania. The "N" is to be sent to
the Salisbury house of a former purser.

It was late in the afternoon before the dispersal, which has brought in
£15,000, ended with a proper moment of emotion.

Mr. Sandrey stood on a chair and began the Sational [sic] Anthem. Everybody
joined in the words. They were sounding through the ship for the last time.

On July 2 she steams north to her fate, and soon all that will remain of the
greatest liner in the world will be the trophies which the auction will
scatter to a thousand places.