Queen Mary Cultural Vandalism

anthony

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Nov 1, 2009
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I've just been looking through a website which compares the Queen Mary as originally designed and how it appears today.

The butchery of some of the interior spaces is terribly sad. I do hope in the near future that an extensive restoration occurs on the ship. What, for example, is the point of having exhibitions of certain rooms decks away from their original location?!! Ridiculous.

I fully appreciate that these things cost money but really, as a listed monument it is regrettable that so much of this poor ship has been gutted, reshaped, insensitively commercialised and destroyed forever. Tragic.
 

Joe Russo

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Apr 10, 2006
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I agree with you there Anthony and would have loved to see that power plant before they ripped it out.
The ship was only 30 years old when she was converted to a hotel, so imagine something from the late seventies being turned into a hotel these days. Even with a reputation like her's, there was probably a need to make her practical for what she was going to be in Long Beach (especially with public funds). Things that are only a few decades old tend to seem dated rather than classic at the time.
I think that we're lucky to have her the way she is now as opposed to just a memory and photos. I have to admit that I agree with you also that someone sinking a half a billion dollars to restore her completely is a nice thought, but I don't think that it is going to happen or is even possible.
 

Lucy Burkhill

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Mar 31, 2006
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>I've just been looking through a website which compares the Queen Mary as originally designed and how it appears today<<

I presume the website you're referring to is the Maritime History Page/Alternative Visions one? I am a member of the Discussion Group on it.

I too am sickened about the destruction of the power plant, especially so as my great-grandfather helped to build the Mary's boilers. He worked at John Brown's works at Sheffield where component parts were made. I had always dreamt of making a pilgrimage to LB to see the old girl and in particular to see for myself my great-grandpa's handiwork, but of course the vandals of LB have denied me this
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>>Things that are only a few decades old tend to seem dated rather than classic at the time<<

A good point, Joe. Certainly at the time the QM tied up at Long Beach, 1930's style was not appreciated like it is today. By all means correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't that most iconic of Art Deco skyscrapers the Chrysler Building under threat of demolition in the 1960's or '70's?

Now I may be controversial here, but I have often wondered if the Queen Mary would have fared any better if she had been preserved at, say, Southampton? Would there have been more resistance to insensitive redevelopment plans in the UK, given that she had been built here and had an iconic status to Brits. I like to think that she might have had more of a chance- in the UK during the late 60's/early 70's there was a growing movement dedicated to preserving industrial/engineering heritage which was being destroyed at an alarming rate. Yet there again, in the UK there was also a lack of appreciation of Art Deco, so many examples were lost.

I'd love to know your views on this one!

Let's all hope that someone with very deep pockets and an even deeper love for the Queen Mary comes along before it's too late!!!

Regards,

Lucy
 

Joe Russo

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Apr 10, 2006
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I had not heard of the Chrysler Building, but I know that Grand Central Station was slated for demolition until Jackie Kennedy stepped in to save it in the mid-60's.
Please don't hesitate to come to Long Beach to see the ship. She is well worth the visit even without her engine. She is also in beautiful surroundings with an almost perfect climate for preservation and could have done a lot worse.
 
Jul 23, 2008
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The demolition of the glorious Ocean Terminal in Southampton is another poor example of short term thinking. Gone forever and replace by...?

I think it's a miracle that the Queen Mary survived at all. That she has is something to be grateful for. However, the carve up she endured has left some big problems. There appeared to be a mad rush to gut the ship when she was first purchased and a questionable policy of 'reinterpreting' some of her public rooms. That some interiors disappeared and others were badly canibalised is something that needs to be addressed now very carefully. The ship needs to be teated as a listed building and restored with sensitivity.
 

Joe Russo

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On the subject of Southampton instead of Long Beach, I'm not sure about that one. From what I've heard, the British have a lot more respect for tradition than the rest of the world, so they might have had more of an inkling to preserve her the way she was.
On the subject of having the means to do so is another matter. Long Beach bought her with an oil surplus that is had at the time (I'm not sure that Long Beach would have done this at the time if they would have known how much money she took for the conversion and the subsequent upkeep), so I don't know how any other city except for one with very deep pockets could keep a ship floating and rusting in its harbor with its main purpose being for history buffs to come and look at for $20 a pop. I think after 40 years, someone would have questioned the public funds being "sunk" into her for that purpose. She clearly would have needed expensive regular upkeep on her aging wiring, generators etc. and would have probably caught fire by now like her sister.
Anthony, I agree with you about the mad rush to gut her. Case in point being her boiler rooms midships. I don't believe that the space is being used for anything since the convention center is only in her rear third -please correct me if I am wrong.
It would be wonderful for someone to step in and restore her remaining original areas like other historic buildings are restored.
 

Lucy Burkhill

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Mar 31, 2006
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Joe, I do agree with you about the Californian climate being better for her preservation than ours! Ironically, today the UK weather has been glorious- lots of sun and temperatures in mid 70's!

I would love to visit QM in LB some day despite what violation she has suffered.

>>The demolition of the glorious Ocean Terminal in Southampton is another poor example of short term thinking. Gone forever and replaced by...?<<

Grain silos, if I can remember from my visit in the early 1990's, Anthony!!!

>>The ship needs to be treated as a listed building and restored with sensitivity<<

From what I read on the Maritime History site, I seem to think she is registered as having a local
landmark status, though I couldn't be 100% certain on this so please don't quote me on this!
However, I did post a question on the site asking whether or not she had been proposed for listing as a World Heritage Site, and was informed that in the past this had been suggested, but was turned down by the powers that be, unfortunately.
 

Joe Russo

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Apr 10, 2006
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Lucy: this might be a longshot, but did you ever find out what happened to the turbines, boilers etc. that your great grandfather built? Were they scrapped? Would be interesting to see if the famous turbines had new life in another ship somewhere.
 

Tom Bates

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Aug 16, 2002
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There is one engine room remaining( the aft engine room) but all the other machinery, boilers, turbines, pumps etc. were scraped. - Tom
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Well, we can lament what was done, but that doesn't change anything about her now. She is never going anywhere under her own power ever again.

Right now the biggest problem is the ships deterioration and the indifferent Management and staff.

The last I read the Pool area was in disrepair and many rooms need renovation. The staff is underpaid and it shows in their attitude towards guests. The food is ok, but good luck having it served to you in a timely manner.

Also, the place is a virtual Ghost ship during the week. Which I guess is part of the catch 22. No guest = no money. No money = poor conditions. Poor conditions = unsatisfied guests.
Unsatisfied Guests = no referrals. And the cycle continues.
 

Lucy Burkhill

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Mar 31, 2006
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Yes, Tom, you're right about the machinery being scrapped all except the aft engine room. On the Maritime History Page/Alternative Visions site there are pics of the boiler rooms in the immediate aftermath of the scrapping, with what appear to be boiler tubes hanging out like the entrails of some disembowelled animal. Not a pretty sight! I once read that there was so much scrap lying around in there once the demolition men had finished, that a mechanical excavator had to be lowered in through one of the funnel openings to shovel it up. Truly heartbreaking when you think of all that precision engineering and craftsmanship being disposed of like trash!!
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Lucy
 

Joe Russo

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Apr 10, 2006
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It is sad that nothing was saved and hastily scrapped. Yes, the ship needs to be treated more like a historic landmark and less like a revenue generator for the city.
 
S

Sean Rooney

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Many lessons have been learned from the preservation and presentation of the Queen Mary. If money were no object the magnificent SS United States would be a wonderful attraction restored and permanently docked in, say New York or San Fransisco. Surely one of the finest ships ever built deserves a better fate?

But, it's all about the money and as the Queen Mary has shown us, these types of projects eat it up. Oh, for unlimited funds and someone with vision!
 

Joe Russo

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Yes, and the France would still be the France and not "dead ship sailing" as we're all watching.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>But, it's all about the money and as the Queen Mary has shown us, these types of projects eat it up.<<

Indeed they do. Even an active vessel with a full crew able to keep up with the maintainance requirements on a 24/7/365 basis has their hand full just keeping up. Salt water is merciless with steel and always has been. Unfortunately, museum foundations, for all their noble intentions are hard pressed just to keep up with preservation and it's not unknown for museums to fail with the ships going to the breakers.

Short sightedness can also be quite a problem. Scrapping the Queen Mary's engine room may have made sense at the time in light of some proposed renovations. Unfortunately, none of these renovations...if planned...ever happened. What this means now is that the ship is quite top heavy. While it's possible that somebody may come up with a better plan to take care of the vessel, it's almost certain that she'll never leave Long Beach, even under tow for fear of the ship capsizing on the open ocean.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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>Even an active vessel with a full crew able to keep up with the maintainance requirements on a 24/7/365 basis has their hand full just keeping up. ....hard pressed just to keep up with preservation and it's not unknown for museums to fail with the ships going to the breakers.

All true. To which may be added that there is the never-satisfactorally-addressed issue of what the hypothetical Preserved Intact Liner Museums are to do with the vast amount of space on board dedicated to essentially identical (and miniscule) Second Class, and in the case of the United States, Third Class accomodations. If one looks at a deckplan for the France/Norway, for instance, one will see what I mean. Endless rows of seen-one-seen-them-all cabins on the lower three decks which, even if sealed off, would have to be scrupulously maintained to prevent the triple threat of rats, roaches, and black mold. Even the most well-funded "visionary" would be put off by the money drain that maintaining a 1035 foot long, ten story high structure- of which only the handful of preserved first class rooms, and the power plant, would be of interest to the general public- would represent. Although the QM's "preservation" is not acceptable to a purist, (I found that bungee jumping in the parking lot, which one could do back in the 1990s represented the high point of the whole visit) it was the most effective solution the backers could have employed.