SS Aquitania


Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,113
37
398
>and what might make their new Aquitania better than the Olympic.

Never really GOT why Cunard would do that. Had the natural progress of things not been altered by the war, the Olympic would have been the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building of the German ships. Lacking the speed of the Cunard Liners; managing to be both vulgar and at the same time unoriginal (check out the travels of certain elements of the smoking room decor through the years leading up to 1911, for instance)and, after 1912, the doppelganger for a death ship, the Olympic seemed destined for a mediocre future, at best, as 1914 dawned.

>1893 design cacophony

I've always been partial to the France (1912) because, in that case, at least the period interiors were consistent. The Olympic class, with their...oh...shall we say...eclectic interiors, immediately make me think of all of those dour, joyless, upper Fifth Avenue homes erected prior to 1907. Homes where the architects (with the owner's blessing) would make statements such as "A perfect example of 18th century Flemish design" and "Pure Louis XIV" about elements of the same house. A house built for, and meant to be admired by, people who would not know 18th century Flemish if it bit them on the ass, but who wanted the reputation of being cultured enough to appreciate the finer things.

A 1907 poem, inspired by the Senator Clark mansion which- along with the economic slump of that year- ended the craze for beaux arts domestic architecture in Manhattan, captures how belle epoch architecture was viewed by the general public~ this was run in Collier's magazine:

Senator Copper of Tonopah Ditch
made a clean billion in mining and sich.
Hiked fer Noo York, where his money he blew
Buildin' a palace on Fifth Avenoo.
'How' sez the senator, 'can I be the proudest?
Build me a houswe that'll holler the loudest-'

Forty-eight architects came to consult
Drawin' up plans for a splendid result:
If the old senator wanted to pay,.
They'd give him art with a capital A.

Pillars Ionic,
Eaves babylonic,
doors cut in scallops resembling a shell.

Roof was Egyptian,
gables caniptian,
the whole grand effect when completed wuz hell.

In short...Edwardian "Glitz and Glamor" was evidently viewed by the man on the street with about as much affection as the 2008 equivalent is.....whether it was stove blacking barons striving to appear cultured (and missing) or people by the last name of Hilton striving to appears as if they can read silently without moving their lips, no one other than themselves and the odd but mercifully small portion of the population who find being witnesses to the Big Show edifying was impressed.
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,356
247
338
A very interesting, and varied discussion. Jim’s original insights into liners’ styles are something I appreciate. It is important to take the broader perspective rather than view any vessel in isolation.

Jason, I must thank you for your very warm words about my work. I have not been following this thread, and I did not see them earlier.

quote:

Yes. And this is what I meant when I said the Aquitania reminds me more of German liner design. However, apparently, Cunard sent "spies" (loose term) to tour the Olympic in order to note what worked and what didn't, what should be 'updated', and what might make their new Aquitania better than the Olympic.

I tend to agree with your assessment, particularly in regards the similarities with the German liners. Mewes and Davies strike again.
wink.gif
And, of course, I find it interesting that Cunard showed such an interest in Olympic. There is no question that they also looked into other ships for inspiration when it came to new tonnage — whether it was Baltic in 1904, Olympic in 1911 or Imperator/Berengaria in 1913. However, there seems to be far more documentation relating to Olympic (such as I related in my book) as opposed to other vessels.

Similarly, when Cunard began to consider new tonnage for the express service (around 1909), that was at a stage where Olympic and Titanic had been laid down. There was far more interest in the White Star liners compared to the German vessels, which of course had not yet progressed beyond the planning stage. That situation does not appear to have changed a great deal after Imperator was laid down, partly because Olympic was at a later stage of construction, in my view. Cunard even examined Olympic’s anchor outfit to see whether the dimensions and weights were similar to Aquitania’s proposed arrangement.

quote:

Roughly speaking, all these pre-war 3 and 4 stackers can be grouped into the same 1893 design cacophony that Jim describes, but out of all these big ships, I think the Olympic was the most subdued. My personal subjective opinion of course.

I tend to prefer Olympic’s interiors generally, although Aquitania is a personal favourite as well.


(Now quoting Jim):
quote:

>and what might make their new Aquitania better than the Olympic.

Never really GOT why Cunard would do that.

In my view, merely the natural process of examining their competitors and seeking to improve upon them. Cunard were aware of the popularity of Olympic’s first class reception room, for instance, and we can see that they opted for a similar ‘foyer’ area alongside Aquitania’s first class dining saloon (or restaurant, as the company called it). Peskett was very impressed with the décor of Olympic’s a la carte restaurant, as well.

The interesting grill room onboard Aquitania, which John Maxtone-Graham believes was originally intended as an extra-tariff facility, was decorated in the same Jacobean style as Olympic’s first class dining saloon. In fact, at one point in 1913 Cunard were concerned about a particular aspect of the proposed decoration, because they felt it would appear too similar to Olympic’s saloon.

There is no question that Aquitania, as a newer competitor, exceeded Olympic in terms of popularity during the years following the war. However, I think we can take the issue of interior decoration too far: Aquitania’s primary advantage lay in second and third class. Certainly, she did better in first class than Olympic did, but not greatly so: for a number of years they were fairly well matched in first class, and in 1925 they were essentially level pegging. Just as Peskett felt that the décor of some of Olympic’s first class suite rooms was rather garish and overdone, so a number of passengers down the years regarded these very suites as personal favourites — and the finest afloat. All down to subjective opinion, of course.

quote:

Had the natural progress of things not been altered by the war, the Olympic would have been the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building of the German ships. Lacking the speed of the Cunard Liners; managing to be both vulgar and at the same time unoriginal (check out the travels of certain elements of the smoking room decor through the years leading up to 1911, for instance)and, after 1912, the doppelganger for a death ship, the Olympic seemed destined for a mediocre future, at best, as 1914 dawned.

Naturally, when we get into counter-factual or ‘what if’ scenearios there are many factors that can be taken into account: for instance, whether the United States’ immigration curbs would have been brought forward; any new tonnage that would have been introduced, and so forth.

However, whatever the aesthetic qualities of Olympic’s interiors, I don’t see your assessment shared by her passengers. She was, after all, a commercial product rather than an artistic one — her hull’s graceful, sleek lines notwithstanding. Cunard were none too impressed with Baltic when she arrived on the scene, yet that assessment was countered by Baltic’s soaring popularity. The similarity of certain aspects of Olympic’s interiors to previous White Star ships is an interesting ‘family’ resemblance, for I don’t see a lack of originality as a negative. Her smoke room was quite nice, just as Adriatic’s was (in my opinion). Whereas Cunard seem to have liked distinctive interiors — such as the famous differences between the decorative schemes on Lusitania and Mauretania — White Star was far more conservative, and that was a choice they made consciously.

There is no question Olympic suffered in 1912, for passenger numbers plunged that summer. In 1913 and 1914, her passenger lists showed a steady improvement. I think I am right in saying that Olympic set a record for the most passengers carried by a White Star ship in a single year, both in 1913 and then when she beat her own record in 1921: only Majestic did better, in 1923. I am not at all sure that there would be any difference in the relative popularity of Olympic and Aquitania, or the German ships, had war not intervened. As it was, the HAPAG trio, followed by Aquitania, had a clear edge over her — as was to be expected — yet Olympic had a very loyal following. She was not *the* most popular liner afloat, but nor would we have expected her to be; she lay within the 'top five' express liners, with a very loyal following.

When we look at Olympic’s average first class passenger lists, she retained her pre-war popularity until the depression struck in 1930; in second class, they only began to slip in 1925-26 (shortly before tourist third cabin was introduced); third class, of course, showed a massive decline from 1921-22 onwards as immigration curbs began to bite. We cannot tell what would have happened had the war not intervened — but whether it’s Olympic, Aquitania or the HAPAG trio, the mix-and-match of period styles does not seem to have worried many passengers. ‘Bums on seats’…or selling tickets, was the goal.

quote:

In short...Edwardian "Glitz and Glamor" was evidently viewed by the man on the street with about as much affection as the 2008 equivalent is...

Too true!
smile.gif


Best wishes,

Mark.
 
K

Kyle Johnstone

Guest
>>A 1907 poem, inspired by the Senator Clark mansion which-<<

What is the history of this house?

The poem could be applied to today's "fugly" McMansions.

For the past couple decades, people suddenly finding themselves with 7 or 8 figure credit lines have joined in the trend of buying a property, tearing down the lovely pre-war home and building a huge nightmare of a stucco box with over-scaled inappropriate and garish architectural elements stuck on. Extending from property line to property line, they dwarf the rest of the neighborhood and destroy the aesthetic of a once-attractive street.

Testaments to ego, tastelessness, and too much money for their own good.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,113
37
398
>What is the history of this house?

Senator Clark, of Montana, bought the N.E. corner lot at Fifth Avenue and E.72nd Street, and set out to build a home that matched that of the Astors and Vanderbilts in terms of pompous ostentation. In the late 1890s, he brought in the firm of Hewlett and Hull to create him a palace befitting the most vulgar of White Star Line patrons. The results were not grand enough, so Henri Deglane of Paris was brought in to "amp" the design up a tad. I believe that other architects were also used as consultants. Work stated in 1903, and four years and $5,000.000 later the grandest mansion ever built on Fifth Avenue was thrown open for a gala reception.

The catcalls started at once. The Architectural Record sniped "A certified check to the amount of all this stone carving, hung on the outer wall, would serve every artistic purpose attained by the carving itself" and Colliers used the house as a running gag, with two separate poems deriding its vulgarity run in 1907.

artwork_clarke_residence_copy1.jpg


The house wasn't really any more hideous than the home John Jacob Astor shared with his mommy, at Fifth and East 65th:
132699.jpg

and was masterful compared to the trashy horror that was/is The Breakers....

...but, something had shifted in the world, and the Clark mansion marked the end of the palace building craze in NYC. The virulent bad reviews, and public scorn, drove home to the White Trash With Money Set that "Famous" and "Popular" are not the same thing at all...an awakening which seems to come in 21 year cycles~ witness the glee when Paris Hilton went off to jail~ and the outre Edwardian "Glitz and Glamor" lifestyle began to...uhhh....calm down a bit, at least in New York City. The mansions built on Fifth, thereafter, were much smaller and reverted to the style of grand interiors hidden behind austere facades.

As posted on another thread, an article about good taste vs bad taste contemporary to the Olympic/Imperator/Aquitania debuts, used a set that was a dead ringer for the Olympic's lounge and Mrs. Baxter's suite on the Titanic as 'cluttered bad taste' and a sort of Vienna Meets Chicago Moderne room as good, progressive, taste.

artwork_january_bad_taste_copy3.jpg


I have a strange affection for the Clark mansion, just as I do for another NYC building Everyone Loved to Hate:

132700.jpg


the 1875 City Hall Park Post Office. Same deal as the Clark house...de la mode when designed, it appeared at the precise moment that Second Empire Victorian fell out of favor in a big way. The reviews and public reception were even worse than those afforded Senator Clark's palace, and did not abate until the edifice was demolished in 1938/39 as part of a World's Fair civic beautification project.

In either case, the structures have a period flavor joie de vivre now that was not apparent to those who viewed them when new. As I said before, architecture and interior design become more appealing when viewed out of context....if one does not KNOW that the interiors of the final pre-WW1 liners were the stuff that made "up to the moment" folk in all social classes snicker whilst simultaneously makng the 1912 Carnival Cruises Class of traveler go "WOW! Tres chic!" then it is easier to describe them with terms like "elegant" "sophisticated" and "stylish." When, in fact, they were none of those.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,113
37
398
>I am not at all sure that there would be any difference in the relative popularity of Olympic and Aquitania, or the German ships, had war not intervened.

Well, yes, there would have been. Had the Ballin trio entered service as planned, and had Italy built ITS two aborted four funnel superliners (Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio~ quite beautiful ships that never were) the end result would likely have been another spate of supership building on the part of Cunard/White Star that would have seen the great 1907-1914 liners demoted to second tier. That's just the natural progression of things.

That the pre-war liners maintained their popularity well into their stylistic dotage, if I may borrow an analogy from Howard Stern, is the same as how Milton Berle maintained his crown of "King of Television" for as long as the other three networks were broadcasting test patterns during prime time. With the exception of the Paris, nothing new or exciting happened in the liner world until 1927, and nothing spectacular happened until 1929. Those superannuated liners remained popular for as long as they were the only option.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,113
37
398
Correction...the Italian 4 stackers were Andrea Doria and Camillo di Cavour. Caio Duilio was the original name chosen for the Cristoforo Colombo
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,356
247
338
Thanks for your reply, Jim.

It seems that you’re relating the intervention of war to the discussion in the general sense that it slowed construction of additional competitors in the years ahead? If that is the case, then I agree with you to a point, but it is not quite what I understood you to say earlier.

quote:

>I am not at all sure that there would be any difference in the relative popularity of Olympic and Aquitania, or the German ships, had war not intervened.

Well, yes, there would have been. Had the Ballin trio entered service as planned, and had Italy built ITS two aborted four funnel superliners (Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio~ quite beautiful ships that never were) the end result would likely have been another spate of supership building on the part of Cunard/White Star that would have seen the great 1907-1914 liners demoted to second tier. That's just the natural progression of things.

Not really. I agree with the implication that, had it not been for the war, then newer competitors would have come on the scene earlier and challenged the large pre-war vessels. Having said that, however, I really don’t get your argument regarding the relative popularity of Olympic, Aquitania and the German vessels. They would have suffered, but it's by no means a given that their relative standing would have changed. If newer tonnage had come into service, then I think it is entirely plausible that these ships would all have suffered — just as they did when newer vessels entered service from the late 1920s onward. The difference, however, is merely that the competitive process would have been accelerated compared to what actually happened following the war. They were all, essentially, of the same age, 1911-14.

As regards Paris, perhaps you can refresh my memory as to her schedule, but from the passenger figures I have seen she was not really any more popular than Aquitania or some of the other large liners. When Ile de France arrived, the situation was similar.

In terms of more ‘supership building,’ there was certainly a lot of interest in the progression and increasing size of liners, but I find that the economic aspects are often overlooked. HAPAG had concerns as to the profitability of Imperator and Vaterland, when they made their debut in 1913 and 1914. No matter how large you build, there are only so many passengers to go around — linked into this is the fact that even the large popular ships (for example, Lusitania and Mauretania in 1910) were only sailing half full over the year as a whole. In fact, by 1911 and 1912 both Bruce Ismay and Albert Ballin felt that the present round of size increases needed to be brought to a halt for a while — excepting the still-building Aquitania, Britannic, and HAPAG trio. For all the glamour of the large express liners, in many respects it was the intermediate vessels that were the backbone of the fleet.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 
Feb 4, 2007
1,646
12
173
41
Denver, Colorado, United States
Mark, Jim,

In the world of economics, the points about newer tonnage having come into service to compete with the 1911-14 liners make perfect sense. If the passenger numbers are favorable, and a profit is being made, then competitors would have most likely jumped at that opportunity. However, as a result, ALL ships, including the newer ones, would then have suffered as Mark suggests, because there are only so many passengers to go 'round. Some companies would ultimately have had to either find a secure niche market, scale down considerably, or exit the market entirely. Cunard and White Star would not have been exempted from this muscle fight for survival.

That said, would Cunard or White Star (or HAPAG or NDL for that matter) have retired their older tonnage (Olympic, Aquitania, Mauritania, Vaterland, etc.) EARLY in order to keep up with current design trends, and then consequently built new, modern-design, Art Nouveau or Deco ships to attract more passengers (or maintain passenger numbers)? This enters the realm of the hypothetical, but I think one could safely conjecture a "no" if speed was roughly the same amongst them. The Homeric might never have been completed (assuming the Britannic hadn't been sunk), but otherwise, at best, the older superliners would probably have been re-fitted in some areas to look more modern if that was, in fact, an actual key factor to attracting passengers. Otherwise, for the most part, I see no financial reasons why these floating museums (even by 19-teens standards) wouldn't have kept sailing as-is until their natural retirements ~ providing of course that passenger numbers remained consistent. After all, they were grand old-style hotels, and no one really expected them to be anything otherwise, right?

As it is, we'll never know for sure.....

I think it's interesting that Arthur J. Davis (of "Mewes and Davis" fame) later went on to design parts of the interiors on the Queen Mary. From the homogeneous Ritz and Aquitania to the QM ~ talk about a total design shift!
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
880
563
Easley South Carolina
>>That said, would Cunard or White Star (or HAPAG or NDL for that matter) have retired their older tonnage (Olympic, Aquitania, Mauritania, Vaterland, etc.) EARLY in order to keep up with current design trends, and then consequently built new, modern-design, Art Nouveau or Deco ships to attract more passengers (or maintain passenger numbers)?<<

If they had reason to believe that the market called for it and would support it, they would have done it in a heartbeat. At the very least, they would have refitted their ships to keep up with the market demands and trends.
 

Grant Carman

Member
Jun 19, 2006
348
1
121
Jason

My thought is that yes, they would have re-fitted, but not retired the ships, but only up to a point. A ship reaches an age where a major refit simply isn't worth it. Companies either scrap them, or sell them on to second tier companies.

Then, as now, ships have to pay off their cost, and return a profit. When you look at the average age of ships from launch to retirement, you tend to find it at approx 25 - 30 years. Olympic you can count out, due to the merger, but a lot of other ships were scrapped in the 30's when they reached the 25 - 30 age. Even ships built later, such as the Caronia II, lasted only 25 years, (1948 - 1973). Granted, most of them went in the early 1970's due to the cost of fuel, but every ship has a finite life.
Refitting a ship is an expensive job. Refitting an older ship to a completely new style is even more expensive. If as you suggest, they might have taken the Aquitania, or the Mauretania, and changed them from the Edwardian theme to an Art Deco theme for example, would have meant that they were going to strip a 20 year old liner (assuming mid 1920's) to the bare bulkheads and start over.

It would have been more likely that they would have done what White Star did to the Olympic in the 1932 - 1933 refit when they painted out the oak in green to try and make her look more up to date.

The Aquitania is my favorite liner, as it was the one my mother came to Canada on in 1944. That aside, I feel she lasted about 10 years longer than she should have. As the records show, by the time she was retired, she was in terrible shape. Had it not been for WW2, she would have been retired in late 39 or early 49 when the QE went into service, as was the plan.
 
Feb 4, 2007
1,646
12
173
41
Denver, Colorado, United States
quote:

A ship reaches an age where a major refit simply isn't worth it.
Exactly. Which is what I was alluding to when I said "natural retirements". Retiring a ship "early" means before the end of it's expected useful life (or expected purpose) for its original company of ownership. This could be in 10 years or 30, but generally speaking, most ships were/are built and expected to last at least 20-30 years total, often with a good portion of that time intended for service with the original company who ordered its construction.

If it makes financial sense (as it sometimes did, or at least, the company thought it would), the ships were 'modernized' a bit and refurbished to reflect current decorating trends. I don't think this would have been any different had WWI not intervened. But to have scrapped all the 1911-1914 superliners in, say, the late-teens or early 1920's and then suddenly replacing them with new Nouveau or Deco superliners just doesn't seem reasonable to me unless there was some huge financial incentive to do so.

Had WWI and the US cap on immigration not occurred, I don't think there would have been too many more superliners built after 1911-1914. At least, not for a while, and they would have been intended as replacements or consolidations, not concurrently running liners. By the late 1920's the Mauretania and Lusitania would have been getting longer in the tooth, and might have been considered for replacement, with the Olympic, Britannic, Aquitania, and German liners following suit shortly thereafter. Not too different that what actually happened in real life give or take 5-8 years and a war or two.

quote:

Olympic you can count out, due to the merger, but a lot of other ships were scrapped in the 30's when they reached the 25 - 30 age.
Uhm, why can we "count out" the Olympic? She, too, lived out a very full life, and served her time as long as most ships can ever hope to serve. Her end was a natural conclusion was it not? Why does she not count?
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,113
37
398
>>It seems that you’re relating the intervention of war to the discussion in the general sense that it slowed construction of additional competitors in the years ahead?

>Had the natural progress of things not been altered by the war, the Olympic would have been the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building of the German ships.

Yes.

>I really don’t get your argument regarding the relative popularity of Olympic, Aquitania and the German vessels. They would have suffered, but it's by no means a given that their relative standing would have changed.

That does not make any sense. Of course their relative standings would have changed once newer, larger vessels came on the scene....just as the standings of the Celtic and the Campania, for instance changed after their respective companies introduced new flagships.


>If newer tonnage had come into service, then I think it is entirely plausible that these ships would all have suffered — just as they did when newer vessels entered service from the late 1920s onward. The difference, however, is merely that the competitive process would have been accelerated compared to what actually happened following the war. They were all, essentially, of the same age, 1911-14.

Then you do get my point, since you just restated it. Given the competitive corporate nature of the early 20th century, and the ten-or-so year gaps between waves of flagship building I don't think it too farfetched to believe that, just as the 1901 Celtic was surpassed by the 1911 Olympic, the next generation replacements for the Olympic class would not have been in the works by 1918. The Mauretania and Lusitania might have held on longer, because of the speed issue...but all the Olympic had going for her was newness and largeness and so would have been 'demotable' more quickly. (Such is the nature of style over substance. The Campania and Lucania, by nature of their 21 knot service speed, remained viable into the age of the new record breakers, in a way that the Big 4 could not have) The Olympic would have ended up "Celtic" to some newer ship~ still a first class liner, but decidedly second tier.

>As regards Paris, perhaps you can refresh my memory as to her schedule,

Sure...she operated on a rotating basis, with the France, on the leHavre/Plymouth/NYC circuit, after June 1921, and with the Ile de France and France after 1927. During her first 8 years, she carried 563 in first; 460 in second and 1092 in third. When she returned to service in 1930, after the fire, the figures were- respectively- 560, 530 and 844. Service speed 21 knots. Construction started 1913.

>My thought is that yes, they would have re-fitted, but not retired the ships...

I never brought the concept of retirement up. The 1911-1914 ships would have been demoted from flagship status considerably more quickly because, again, all they had to offer was newness and size, both of which are mercurial assets at best.

> see no financial reasons why these floating museums (even by 19-teens standards) wouldn't have kept sailing as-is until their natural retirements ~ providing of course that passenger numbers remained consistent. After all, they were grand old-style hotels, and no one really expected them to be anything otherwise, right?

My point is/was that their status as flagships would have been extremely short lived. Not that their LIVES would have been shorter, but that their...shall we say....times at the top of the food chain would have been.

Massive t-storm here. Do not want to fry hard drive. Will continue tomorrow A.M.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
880
563
Easley South Carolina
>>A ship reaches an age where a major refit simply isn't worth it.<<

Don't underestimate the issue of any margin for growth. The ship has only so much available befor stability becomes a serious issue. When that happens, the question becomes one of exactly what's going to be traded off and even if it can be traded off. This is a lot easier with a commercial vessel then it is with a warship, the latter of which has to carry a full fit of weapons and sensors needed to carry out it's mission and which can't be handily be disposed of. (This, By the way, is the reason a lot of World War Two vessels were retired...they had no margin left for growth and some had serious stability issues.)

Still, even with a cruise ship or liner, it's possible to reach a point of deminishing returns where it's just more cost effective to scrap the old in favour of the new which has better accomadations, is faster, more fuel efficient, and a better seaboat.
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,356
247
338
Grant:
quote:

The Aquitania is my favorite liner, as it was the one my mother came to Canada on in 1944. That aside, I feel she lasted about 10 years longer than she should have. As the records show, by the time she was retired, she was in terrible shape. Had it not been for WW2, she would have been retired in late 39 or early 49 when the QE went into service, as was the plan.

I think I am right in saying that the last peacetime sailing schedule showed her up to March 1940. As regards age, I am not sure I would go quite that far, but certainly by 1949 she was in need of a major refit and extensive survey work which would have been expensive and uneconomic. There were some specific defects, but the general impression I recall is one of general, extensive wear-and-tear. Had she been retired in 1940, after twenty-six years, she would have served a productive life; her final decade of arduous service is remarkable!

quote:

Refitting a ship is an expensive job. Refitting an older ship to a completely new style is even more expensive. If as you suggest, they might have taken the Aquitania, or the Mauretania, and changed them from the Edwardian theme to an Art Deco theme for example, would have meant that they were going to strip a 20 year old liner (assuming mid 1920's) to the bare bulkheads and start over.

I don’t know what the plan was as regards décor, but Cunard were certainly giving serious consideration in 1929-30 to re-engining and reconditioning Aquitania.

Jim:
quote:

>I really don’t get your argument regarding the relative popularity of Olympic, Aquitania and the German vessels. They would have suffered, but it's by no means a given that their relative standing would have changed.

That does not make any sense. Of course their relative standings would have changed once newer, larger vessels came on the scene....just as the standings of the Celtic and the Campania, for instance changed after their respective companies introduced new flagships.

I am beginning to think we are at cross purposes. To judge from a lot of your remarks, they are points that I can agree with, but I find it very difficult to see why you are claiming my remark above ‘does not make any sense.’ It stands to reason that when new competitors came on the scene, they would have attracted passengers, including many who would — in former years — have chosen the ‘Big Six.’ However, there seems no reason why Olympic, Aquitania and the German ships’ relative standing would have altered. Granted, it might have been the case that one ship (maybe Aquitania) had more money spent on it than another (Majestic or Olympic), and held her own a little better against the newer competition, but all these ships would have equally suffered. Aquitania would have suffered, Majestic would have suffered, and so on; there is no reason why one of these ships would have escaped unscathed and somehow leapfrogged her longstanding competitors. Their relative standing would not have changed. I am unable to understand your point.

Similarly, I have no doubt Celtic and Campania were relegated to the ‘second division’ if you will, once newer ships came on the scene — i.e. Adriatic and Lusitania as two examples. However, Celtic’s relative standing compared to Campania surely remained the same as it had been before. They were built for different purposes: Celtic was slow, but a good, comfortable and reliable sea boat, staunchly constructed at a reasonable price, and unburdened by the overdone German-style of interior. The basic recipe proved sound, for she retained a popular following for years to come. Campania was constructed with an eye on speed, and I remember one passenger who was comparing her very unfavourably with Celtic’s seakeeping qualities.

quote:

>If newer tonnage had come into service, then I think it is entirely plausible that these ships would all have suffered — just as they did when newer vessels entered service from the late 1920s onward. The difference, however, is merely that the competitive process would have been accelerated compared to what actually happened following the war. They were all, essentially, of the same age, 1911-14.

Then you do get my point, since you just restated it.

If I am restating your point, then it baffles me as to why you were disagreeing with me earlier. What I said above is not what I understood you to say earlier.

quote:

>As regards Paris, perhaps you can refresh my memory as to her schedule,

Sure...she operated on a rotating basis, with the France, on the leHavre/Plymouth/NYC circuit, after June 1921, and with the Ile de France and France after 1927. During her first 8 years, she carried 563 in first; 460 in second and 1092 in third. When she returned to service in 1930, after the fire, the figures were- respectively- 560, 530 and 844. Service speed 21 knots. Construction started 1913.

Thanks for the additional info. I do not have anything to hand, but I do remember that Paris was no more popular than Olympic in 1933; similarly, Ile de France does not seem to have been doing any better than Aquitania or the Ballin trio in 1927-29, if we measure her average passenger carryings.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,356
247
338
Grant,

It occurs to me you may be interested in some of my (unedited, i.e. poorly written!) Aquitania notes, although bear in mind that the following does not include any mention of the defects she suffered towards the bow.

quote:

Storms on the Atlantic in winter were particularly heavy. When Aquitania arrived in Southampton on December 19th 1930 after encountering ‘very heavy weather,’ it was found that girders on the port and starboard sides of B-deck were cracked, requiring welding and the fitting of doublers. The strain on them had been exacerbated by the new bulkheads installed at the edge of the original raised section of the promenade deck, when the first class suites had been extended in 1926. Signs of fatigue appeared in the superstructure near to expansion joints. Returning to Southampton on November 20th 1931 after very bad weather, Aquitania’s forepeak was ‘badly strained’ with nine hundred rivets requiring renewal, and two starboard shell plates had fractured; in the oil bunkers 1,100 rivets were renewed and others tightened up. The after peak tank was strained, requiring the renewal of rivets, while the starboard bilge keel ‘required attention.’ Renewal of large numbers of rivets around the oil bunkers was a common task throughout the 1930s. In August 1935 damage to the after part of the port side bilge keel (ninety-two feet of plating required renewal) was attributed to the January 24th 1934 grounding, although it had not been noted at the time.

When Aquitania arrived at Southampton on September 20th 1938 a strake of heavy plating was fractured across a line of rivets amidships on B-deck, which was a ‘definite through fracture’ close to the B-deck repairs of 1931. An inspection in September 1943 had revealed that the long-standing crack on C-deck, in the shell plating ‘at the starboard side of the break of the bridge,’ had not extended. New furnace fronts were fitted to all the boilers. In October 1944, Aquitania was generally ‘in good condition’ while the interior surfaces ‘of shell plating and bulkheads, where stripped for conversion to troop accommodation, were in [an] excellent state of preservation.’

After over thirty years’ service, Aquitania was by any standard an old liner and not surprisingly she showed increasing signs of age. In 1947 the boilers were largely sound, but a number of related repairs were completed the year afterwards. By May 1948, the fracture in the starboard shell plating on C-deck at the break of the bridge had ‘continued to extend’ and ‘substantial repairs’ were required, similar to repairs completed to the port side fracture in 1933. It was reported that the January 1931 repairs to the B-deck girders ‘remained in a satisfactory condition.’ During the previous season, repairs had been carried out on A-deck, to the buckled bulkhead plating at the forward end; stiffeners on C-deck’s number 2 hatch cover were removed and replaced; while four fractures in bulwark plating abreast of number 2 expansion joint had required welding and the fitting of doublers. At the same time, the B-deck deck plating abreast of the third funnel hatch was inspected and localised fractures required repairs: new doublers and ‘straps’ were fitted. All gangway doors had been overhauled, while slight leaks were calked ‘or injected as required’ in the oil fuel bunkers. At the May 1949 survey a number of minor repairs were completed, including caulking rivets and welding on the port and starboard bilge keels, yet the items dealt with the previous year remained ‘in good condition.’ Aquitania’s passenger and safety certificates were issued to expire at December 31st 1949, at the same time as her load line certificate, yet for new certificates to be issued beyond 1949 permanent repairs would be required to several defects.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 

Grant Carman

Member
Jun 19, 2006
348
1
121
Thanks Mark.

Your article does bring one question to mind. Would it have been worth it to refit her in 49, or did Cunard do the right thing and retire her.

I seem to remember reading somewhere, (one of the folly's of getting older is I can't remember where), that the Mauretania and Olympic, when retired, were in better condition than the Berengaria and Majestic, which continued to sail. Do you have an opinion on that?
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,356
247
338
Hi Grant,

quote:

Your article does bring one question to mind. Would it have been worth it to refit her in 49, or did Cunard do the right thing and retire her.

Well, as you indicated, in commercial terms her life really came to an end in 1939. The decade after that was war service, and then her austerity service where the expenditure was concentrated on the mechanical side rather than bringing her accommodation up to pre-war standards.

Certainly Aquitania, subjected to a number of refits, did fairly well after the depression began to recede: in 1937, she was averaging 733 passengers per crossing. The distinction, of course, is that Queen Mary was carrying about double that; Normandie, some 950 I think. After the war, however, Queen Elizabeth was often sailing full, and Queen Mary did almost as well. I really don’t see what trade Aquitania could have been put to use for.

quote:

I seem to remember reading somewhere, (one of the folly's of getting older is I can't remember where), that the Mauretania and Olympic, when retired, were in better condition than the Berengaria and Majestic, which continued to sail. Do you have an opinion on that?

I have quite a few opinions.
smile.gif


I would tend to agree in a general sense, but it depends on which specific aspects we’re dealing with. I tend to consider areas such as structural condition, mechanical condition, and then the standard of accommodation and such like.

As far as I am aware, Mauretania’s boilers, engines and machinery remained sound, as did her hull. Her retirement was really a matter of surplus tonnage, the depression, and the fact that she could not be employed profitably on the express service.

In Olympic’s case, her boilers were very well looked after, while her engines had seen extensive work during the 1932-33 overhaul — from the ship’s engineers to the regular surveyors, they agreed the engines were performing better than ever before. The work was not merely an overhaul, but also saw mechanical improvements to improve the balance and running of the engines, overseen by H&W’s C. C. Pounder. Structurally, she remained fit for further service and her general condition was ‘good,’ despite the necessary repairs to defects in 1931. As with Mauretania, she was surplus to requirements. Although her running costs were lower than Aquitania, Berengaria and Majestic, her passenger receipts were also lower: so, although she was not as deeply in the red by as much as some of her running mates, her lower earnings were a key issue.

Berengaria’s retirement in 1938 was forced on Cunard, as her deteriorating wiring and increasing number of fires prevented her sailing with commercial passengers. Similarly, quite a number of repairs to fatigue cracks needed completing after the winter of 1937-38 — inevitable on a large liner, twenty-five years old. However, given that it was her deteriorating condition (specifically her wiring) that actually caused her retirement there and then, I would say Berengaria was in a worse condition.

Majestic, of course, was originally going to be retained beyond 1936, but Berengaria was reprieved instead. Although she was a newer ship, of course, unburdened by strenuous war service as Olympic (and Mauretania) were, her structural problems are rather infamous. There is no doubt that the particular structural arrangement of the split funnel uptakes, combined with a number of other unfortunate issues, was a serious design flaw; but, equally, the repairs of 1925 were very extensive and strengthened the hull considerably. Unfortunately, by the 1930s she was showing some signs of age as the older liners were. My general impression — and it’s only that, rather than a statistical analysis — is that she did not suffer from electrical fires to the same extent Berengaria did.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads