Sailing on the RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH in the 1950s… when “Getting There Was Half The Fun”!
(Left: Captain docks the great Cunard Liner in New York) The RMS Queen Elizabeth was an ocean liner operated by the Cunard Line and was contracted to carry Royal Mail as the second half of a two-ship weekly express service between Southampton and New York City via Cherbourg. She was followed by the QE 2 and the new Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth.
At the time of construction in the mid-1930s by John Brown and Company in Clydebank, Scotland, the RMS Queen Elizabeth was known as Hull 552, but she was later named in honor of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort at the time of her launch on 27 September 1938, and in 1952 became the Queen Mother. Queen Elizabeth was a slightly larger ship with an improved design over her running mate, Queen Mary, making her the largest passenger liner ever built at that time, which was a record that would not be exceeded for fifty-six years.
She first entered service in February 1940 as a troopship in the Second World War, and it was not until October 1946 that she served in her intended role as an ocean liner. Together with Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth maintained a two ship weekly transatlantic service from Southampton to New York for over twenty years. With the decline in the popularity of these routes, both ships were replaced by RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969.
The Captain’s Table – 1950s…
She was retired from service in November 1968, and was sold to a succession of buyers, most of whom had adventurous and unsuccessful plans for her. Finally she was sold to a Hong Kong businessmen who intended to convert her into a floating University cruise ship. In 1972 whilst undergoing renovations in Hong Kong harbor, she set on fire and capsized. In 1973, her wreck was deemed an obstruction, and she was scrapped where she lay.
(Left: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth – waving and being interviewed.)
On the day RMS Queen Mary set sail on her maiden voyage, Cunard’s chairman, Sir Percy Bates, informed his ship designers that it was time to start designing the planned second ship, which unlike Queen Mary, whose name was kept secret, was to be called Queen Elizabeth. The official contract between Cunard and government financiers was signed on 6 October 1936.