What if the Olympic wasn't scrapped in 1935?


Logan Horning

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I know that scrapping the Olympic was one of the only choices for the Cunard-White Star merge line after the Great Depression hit. I often think about what kind of future the Olympic would have had if she was preserved and kept in service instead of the Aquitania. So, I made an alternate timeline of the R.M.S. Olympic if she hadn't been retired and scrapped in 1935. ((This is all in MY imaginary universe. Fell free to tell me your alternate timeline of the Olympic had it not been scrapped.))
1934: The Olympic crashes into the LV-117, and Aquitania is retired from the Great Depression.
1935: The Olympic is decommissioned due to the Great Depression, and is moved to Belfast for refits.
1936: The Queen Mary enters service, and the Aquitania gets scrapped, parts of the Aquitania become added onto the Olympic.
1938: The Olympic recommissioned into service after repairs, and enjoys a year of service before WWII.
1939: World War II begins. The Olympic is put out of service to be repainted as a troopship and to have guns aboard.
1940: The Olympic enters service as a troopship to fight against the Germans in WWII.
1942: The Olympic receives a distress call from the Laconia, which sinks after being torpedoed by German submarine U-156.
1945: World War II ends. The Olympic is put back into passenger service and is once again refitted to become updated.
1958: The Olympic is used for interior sets in the film "A Night to Remember".
1967: The Olympic and the Queen Mary both retire, and become museum ships in the United States. The Queen Mary is docked in the West Coast in Long Beach, California, and the Olympic is docked in the East Coast in New York, also at the same dock where the Titanic was supposed to be after it's maiden voyage.
1985: The Olympic gains popularity after the discovery of the wreckage of the Titanic.
1995-1997: James Cameron uses the Olympic for the production of his blockbuster film, "Titanic".
1997-present: The Olympic becomes the ultimate Titanic museum experience, and is probably one of the most iconic maritime museums in history.
 
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Seumas

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Money, money money.

Preserving the Olympic was never an option. Scrapping her was ultimately the right thing to do.

To keep going after 1934, Olympic would have needed numerous big refits and brought up to ever changing safety standards perhaps every ten years or so. None of that would be cheap.

On the Olympic serving in the Second World War and potentially saving survivors from the Laconia, that's really not something that is likely to have occurred. If she had still been around then a big, relatively fast ship like the Olympic would most likely that she have served on the Clyde and/or Mersey runs to New York and Halifax. There is no reason why the Olympic should have been near the coast of West Africa where Laconia was sunk.

The Aquitania was in a really sorry state after the Second World War. In 1949 she was in an embarrassing state and was far too expensive to operate any longer. Cunard of course could have completely re-fitted the ship but it would have cost a staggering, ridiculous amount of money to do so especially in a financial crippled post-war "austerity" Britain. Olympic would very likely have been in exactly the same circumstances had she still been afloat after the war.

As the owners of the Queen Mary have been finding out in the last few years, keeping these monsters afloat and in good condition after so many decades is an uphill task. Costs escalate year after year. Questions begin to be asked about how long the flow of money will continue to flow.

They ultimately did the right thing scrapping both the Olympic (and the Mauritania and the Berengaria).

Scrapping the Olympic and the Berengaria's superstructure actually was a good thing for the town of Jarrow in County Durham, England.

For a while it provided much needed employment for several hundred men of the town, located in one of the worst hit areas by the Great Depression. In her death, by providing work to these men, the Olympic was actually helping to put food in the bellies of starving young kids and ensuring that they had a roof over their heads.

I really cannot stress hard enough just what the people of Tyneside and Wearside in England suffered during the Great Depression. The coal mines and the shipyards were mostly derelict. Tens of thousands of proud, hardy, working class "Geordie" men were unemployed and desperate for work to feed their families, put clothes on their backs and pay the rent or the doctors bill. In their "death" Olympic and Berengaria at the very least went a little way to alleviate this.

Her bare hulk was then towed to Inverkeithing in Fife, Scotland, again another coal mining area just like Tyneside and Wearside that was hit right between the eyes by the Great Depression with thousands of men unemployed and with wolves at the door. The Olympic again provided more much needed local employment as the work began to complete the scrapping.

Olympic was a truly great, beautiful ship but every story must have an ending.
 
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real_richest

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1969- united states line would buy Olympic and gets used as troop ship until the end of the Vietnam war
1973- rescues passengers from the burning of the RMS Queen Elizabeth
2001- Olympic recues New Yorkers after the collapse of the world trade center
2006- Gets remodeled as a now days passenger shup
2010- gets used as a prop for Titanic II
2011- celebrates 100th anniversary of sailing
2012- rescues passengers During The sinking of Costa Concordia
2013-present- gets known as a hero ship
 

Seumas

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1969- united states line would buy Olympic and gets used as troop ship until the end of the Vietnam war
1973- rescues passengers from the burning of the RMS Queen Elizabeth
2001- Olympic recues New Yorkers after the collapse of the world trade center
2006- Gets remodeled as a now days passenger shup
2010- gets used as a prop for Titanic II
2011- celebrates 100th anniversary of sailing
2012- rescues passengers During The sinking of Costa Concordia
2013-present- gets known as a hero ship
None of that would ever have happened.

RMS Olympic, had she not been scrapped during 1935-37, would have been put to use as a troopship during WW2.

The schedules would have been punishing and it's unlikely she would have been spared the time for a full overhaul in dry dock. She would have been in the same run down state as RMS Aquitania was in the late forties. A once great ship rapidly falling to bits and haemorrhaging money for Cunard-White Star.

These beasts can't be kept running forever.

Btw there were no passengers aboard RMS Queen Elizabeth when she burned and sank in Hong Kong Harbour. She wasn't even in service anymore and was in the process of being turned into a floating university.
 
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real_richest

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None of that would ever have happened.

RMS Olympic, had she not been scrapped during 1935-37, would have been put to use as a troopship during WW2.

The schedules would have been punishing and it's unlikely she would have been spared the time for a full overhaul in dry dock. She would have been in the same run down state as RMS Aquitania was in the late forties. A once great ship rapidly falling to bits and haemorrhaging money for Cunard-White Star.

These beasts can't be kept running forever.

Btw there were no passengers aboard RMS Queen Elizabeth when she burned and sank in Hong Kong Harbour. She wasn't even in service anymore and was in the process of being turned into a floating university.
How is scraping it a good thing Queen Mary's been around for decades and it never fell maybe they can fix the engine maybe turn into a museum/hotel ship, or dock it to New York city, 1985 why it would be popular because they wanna feel like there in titanic, 2011 they would probably celebrate 100 years
 

Seumas

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How is scraping it a good thing Queen Mary's been around for decades and it never fell maybe they can fix the engine maybe turn into a museum/hotel ship, or dock it to New York city, 1985 why it would be popular because they wanna feel like there in titanic, 2011 they would probably celebrate 100 years
Scrapping Olympic was the right thing to do. Read my posts above for the reasons why that was so.

The Queen Mary is actually slowly falling apart and it is costing an obscene amount of money to keep her afloat. They can't keep going forever.

The great thing was that scrapping Olympic (and the Mauritania & the Berengaria) provided some much needed employment to unemployed shipyard workers and coal miners in Tyneside and Fife during a time of great hardship.

Preserving Olympic was never an option.
 
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Cam Houseman

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Money, money money.

Preserving the Olympic was never an option. Scrapping her was ultimately the right thing to do.

To keep going after 1934, Olympic would have needed numerous big refits and brought up to ever changing safety standards perhaps every ten years or so. None of that would be cheap.

On the Olympic serving in the Second World War and potentially saving survivors from the Laconia, that's really not something that is likely to have occurred. If she had still been around then a big, relatively fast ship like the Olympic would most likely that she have served on the Clyde and/or Mersey runs to New York and Halifax. There is no reason why the Olympic should have been near the coast of West Africa where Laconia was sunk.

The Aquitania was in a really sorry state after the Second World War. In 1949 she was in an embarrassing state and was far too expensive to operate any longer. Cunard of course could have completely re-fitted the ship but it would have cost a staggering, ridiculous amount of money to do so especially in a financial crippled post-war "austerity" Britain. Olympic would very likely have been in exactly the same circumstances had she still been afloat after the war.

As the owners of the Queen Mary have been finding out in the last few years, keeping these monsters afloat and in good condition after so many decades is an uphill task. Costs escalate year after year. Questions begin to be asked about how long the flow of money will continue to flow.

They ultimately did the right thing scrapping both the Olympic (and the Mauritania and the Berengaria).

Scrapping the Olympic and the Berengaria's superstructure actually was a good thing for the town of Jarrow in County Durham, England.

For a while it provided much needed employment for several hundred men of the town, located in one of the worst hit areas by the Great Depression. In her death, by providing work to these men, the Olympic was actually helping to put food in the bellies of starving young kids and ensuring that they had a roof over their heads.

I really cannot stress hard enough just what the people of Tyneside and Wearside in England suffered during the Great Depression. The coal mines and the shipyards were mostly derelict. Tens of thousands of proud, hardy, working class "Geordie" men were unemployed and desperate for work to feed their families, put clothes on their backs and pay the rent or the doctors bill. In their "death" Olympic and Berengaria at the very least went a little way to alleviate this.

Her bare hulk was then towed to Inverkeithing in Fife, Scotland, again another coal mining area just like Tyneside and Wearside that was hit right between the eyes by the Great Depression with thousands of men unemployed and with wolves at the door. The Olympic again provided more much needed local employment as the work began to complete the scrapping.

Olympic was a truly great, beautiful ship but every story must have an ending.
I don't think they should've scrapped her, but I understand why, Jarrow was hit hard by the depression, and scrapping the Olympic gave them money and work.

Plus, its even possible she would've been sunk during World War II

Now that I read your entire reply, I see you also said that lol
 
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Seumas

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I reckon if I could send people back in time to County Durham or Fife in the mid thirties with the eye watering mass unemployment, families living on eighteen shillings dole a week, no National Health Service, TB commonplace, the cruel "Means Test" for state benefits, hand-me-down clothes and shoes, breaking up the furniture for firewood, scavenging railway lines for coal .....

Then you'd see why it was a good thing that Olympic, Mauritania and Berengaria got the chop.
 
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Seumas

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but don't get us wrong, we all think it'd be the best thing ever to have the Olympic still in a dock somewhere
Could you honestly have told an unemployed, borderline starving man in Jarrow or Inverkeithing that saving an aging ocean liner for sentimental reasons is more important than providing him with work ?

Suggested reading: "The Road to Wigan Pier" by George Orwell.

Read that (it's a short book) and you'll understand why nobody had any time for foolish notions like preserving the Olympic or Mauritania in the UK of the thirties.
 

Cam Houseman

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Could you honestly have told an unemployed, borderline starving man in Jarrow or Inverkeithing that saving an aging ocean liner for sentimental reasons is more important than providing him with work ?

Suggested reading: "The Road to Wigan Pier" by George Orwell.

Read that (it's a short book) and you'll understand why nobody had any time for foolish notions like preserving the Olympic or Mauritania in the UK of the thirties.
no, of course not
I was speaking in another sense, of course I'd want people to have food, water, money, and a roof over their head.
more like a, if the depression never happened.
 

Seumas

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no, of course not
I was speaking in another sense, of course I'd want people to have food, water, money, and a roof over their head.
more like a, if the depression never happened.
She'd have just ended up like the Aquitania did in the 1940s. Falling to bits (there is the famous story of the grand piano crashing through the rotten deck and it was amazing nobody got hurt) and far too expensive to maintain.

It's better to remember them as they were. Nothing lasts forever.
 

Cam Houseman

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She'd have just ended up like the Aquitania did in the 1940s. Falling to bits (there is the famous story of the grand piano crashing through the rotten deck and it was amazing nobody got hurt) and far too expensive to maintain.

It's better to remember them as they were. Nothing lasts forever.
Aquitania also wasn't built like Olympic and refitted like Olympic was, multiple times, to be safer and more modern. She also wasn't as famous as Olympic
 

Seumas

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I'm sorry but you are incorrect on both counts.

Aquitania received several major refits in her time - 1919/20, 1926, 1929 and 1932/33.

Remember also that just as Olympic needed a refit after lessons were learned from her sister's sinking, so to would John Brown's have made significant adjustments to Aquitania's design when she was on the stocks.

The Aquitania was a very famous ship in her day and there was quite a send off for her when she had departed for the breakers in 1950.

The Mauritania was probably equal with the Olympic in terms of public popularity, indeed if not more popular.
 
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Museum ships are cool and interesting. But Seumas is right. During the 30's it was a luxury that society couldn't afford. By the 1930's Titanic had been mostly forgotten by the public. Nobody cared or at the least it wasn't even an issue. They had other things on their mind...like eating. Even when times are good people move on. Not to be a buzzkill but I believe your probably going to get to see what Seumas is talking about. Economic sine wave and all.
 
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Scrapping Olympic was the right thing to do. Read my posts above for the reasons why that was so.

The Queen Mary is actually slowly falling apart and it is costing an obscene amount of money to keep her afloat. They can't keep going forever.

The great thing was that scrapping Olympic (and the Mauritania & the Berengaria) provided some much needed employment to unemployed shipyard workers and coal miners in Tyneside and Fife during a time of great hardship.

Preserving Olympic was never an option.
Agree. Like I and you and others have said it wasn't a priority or concern at the time. I don't know if this a good analogy or not but kind of like the S.S. United States today. Some would like to preserve her but the money isn't there and nobody with the deep pockets to do it seems interested. They got other things to worry about now. But I will give credit to the people who are trying to do it. Who know's, they might surprise us.
 
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Seumas

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Agree. Like I and you and others have said it wasn't a priority or concern at the time. I don't know if this a good analogy or not but kind of like the S.S. United States today. Some would like to preserve her but the money isn't there and nobody with the deep pockets to do it seems interested. They got other things to worry about now. But I will give credit to the people who are trying to do it. Who know's, they might surprise us.
Aye, several years ago there was an attempt to preserve the RN carriers HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal (did you take part in NATO exercises with them you where in the USN ?) by some MP's chasing votes and a couple of celebrities.

When the all important question was asked "who's gonna pay for it" it was met with a collective shrug of the shoulders. They want to keep them but they don't want to pay for them ......

You're correct Steve that it really is vitally important to understand the harsh social, economic and political realities of the thirties to see why preserving the Olympic was never on the cards for a second.

Besides the story had a good resolution. The scrapping of the Olympic (and the Mauritania) provided hundreds of men in Jarrow and Inverkeithing with a weekly wage that put food on the table for their families, a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs. That's a good outcome.

As the Olympic was making it's final few voyages my Gran was about eighteen months old and came down with whooping cough. My Great-Grandfather, an unemployed hammerman, was reduced to pawning the shoes of all four of his children to pay part of the doctors bill.

That's what a decent man was reduced to doing in those days. He was forced to make his older kids go barefoot just so he could see his youngest cured.

This is quite a (in)famous image from the thirties that you frequently see in books concerning British social history ...

1616719291155.png

Welcome to Britain in the 1930s folks. The public wanted work and bread. They did not want "museum ships".
 
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I don't recall ever seeing that pic before. Interesting. Thanks for posting it. The depression hit places hard all over the world. Europe and the UK got hit as hard or harder in some cases as the US did. Both my parents grew up during the depression. It's why they didn't want to hear any whining from us about how tough we thought we had it (which we didn't). It would have been nice to save the Olympic but like you said it wasn't going to happen during those times. As to your question about the R.N. No I don't ever remember being on maneuvers with any R.N. ships. But I did party with them once in Singapore. Good times. They trick I was told by some of the older salts was you can party with the brits and aussies...just not when they are together...LOL.
 
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Cam Houseman

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I don't recall ever seeing that pic before. Interesting. Thanks for posting it. The depression hit places hard all over the world. Europe and the UK got hit as hard or harder in some cases as the US did. Both my parents grew up during the depression. It's why they didn't want to hear any whining from us about how tough we thought we had it (which we didn't). It would have been nice to save the Olympic but like you said it wasn't going to happen during those times. As to your question about the R.N. No I don't ever remember being on maneuvers with any R.N. ships. But I did party with them once in Singapore. Good times. They trick I was told by some of the older salts was you can party with the brits and aussies...just not when they are together...LOL.
arrives in Jarrow.png


She arrives in Jarrow in 1935
Tysne Archives



Ok, I also found a pic of two kids with rollerskates on Mauritania's decks
1616728068989.png
 
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