Years of Glory
The Creative Years
1929 - 1935
With a desire to replace Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengaria, the Cunard Line begins to discuss plans to build a new pair of super ocean liners. Undettered by lofty goals and the Great Depression, the building of the Queen Mary becomes a ground breaking technological achievement.
The Seeds Are Planted
At Cunard Line’s annual meeting, Chairman Sir Thomas Royden makes the first official announcement that “the question of new tonnage is one constantly in our minds.” The Cunard Line begins plans to design a new pair of super ocean liners to replace the Mauritania, Aquitania and Berengaria on their North Atlantic route.
Cunard Line announces that John Brown & Company, LTD., of Clydebank, Scotland, had been selected as builder of the new liner.
First keel plate is laid for job #534 (which was eventually named the Queen Mary) at John Brown Shipyard.
The Great Depression Hits
Work begins on the new Southampton dry dock, to be known as the King George V Graving Dock.
Work halts on Job #534 because of the Great Depression and an inability to secure further bank loans. The hull plating is 80% completed and the ship stands nine stories high.
The King George V Graving Dock is officially opened with King George V and Queen Mary steaming into the dry dock aboard the Royal Yacht, Victoria and Albert. The dock is the largest in the world at the time. It is 1,200 feet long, 135 feet wide at its entrance, 59 feet deep, holds 58 million gallons of water, and can hold any ship up to 100,000 tons.
The effective date for transferring the assets of the Cunard Steamship Company and the White Start Line, to the newly formed Cunard White Star, LTD. Cunard was credited with 62% of the share capital and White Star with 38%.
The North Atlantic Shipping Bill is passed. The British Treasury makes advances of £4,500,000 toward the completion of #534, and authority was to be sought to make an advance not to exceed £5,000,000 for a second liner.
After 28 months, construction resumes on job #534
Rivals Cunard Line and White Star are forced to merge.
Job #534 is launched, and named the Queen Mary by her Majesty Queen Mary, accompanied by His Majesty King George V. The ship is moved to the nearby fitting out basin.
Installation of boilers begins around this date.
Installation of engines and almost all of the heavy machinery is completed. Funnels and both masts are in position.
1936 - 1939
Unprecedented luxury and forward-thinking technology make the Queen Mary popular with British Royalty, Hollywood celebrities and dignitaries alike, raising the bar for luxury travel and ultimately becoming the grandest ocean liner ever built.
The Median Voyage
King Edward VIII makes inspection tour of the ship.
The Queen Mary departs John Brown Shipyard, steaming down the Clyde River to Gourock, Scotland. The ship goes aground twice despite prior dredging of the river and her shallow draft. Anchor trials and adjustment of the magnetic compasses are made off Gourock. Twenty of the Queen Mary’s lifeboats were left off the ship to save weight. Since they were manufactured in Gourock, the lifeboats were lifted into their davits upon ship's arrival.
March 24 - 26
Preliminary speed trials are made on the way to Southampton.
March 27 - April 8
Dry docked in King George V Graving Dock.
April 15 - 19
Official speed trials are held in the Irish Sea off the Isle of Arran. British Olympic runner Lord Burghley runs one lap (400 yards) in evening dress around the Promenade Deck in under 60 seconds.
The ship is officially handed over from John Brown Shipyard to Cunard White Star Line at exactly noon.
King Edward VIII, Her Majesty Queen Mary, the young Princess Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of York (soon to be King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), the Duke and Duchess of Kent and the Duchess of Gloucester visit the ship. Queen Mary presents her personal standard to the ship. It was displayed at the head of the main staircase on Promenade Deck and is now located on board the Queen Elizabeth 2.
The Queen Mary departs Southampton at 4:33 p.m. on her maiden voyage, arriving in Cherbourg, France at 8:47 p.m. and departing at 12:39 a.m. the following morning.
Arrival at Pier 90 in New York at 4:20 p.m. Crossing time: 5 days, 5 hours and 13 minutes.
August 19 - 31
On her sixth round-trip voyage, the Queen Mary wins the Blue Riband for the fastest North Atlantic crossings from the French Line's Normandie. The Normandie wins the honor back in 1937.
The World Record
Docked without the aid of tugboats in New York, by Commodore Irving. Voyage #53 West.
August 3 - 15
Won the Blue Riband back from the Normandie on her 48th round-trip voyage. The Queen Mary held the record
Departed Southampton on final peacetime voyage, carrying her largest number of passengers: 2,552, including Mr. & Mrs. Bob Hope and millions in gold bullion.
The War Years
1939 - 1946
As England and France declare war on Germany, the Queen Mary’s days as a passenger ocean liner appear over. With her record-breaking speed and size, the Queen Mary is retrofitted to serve as a troop ship during the Great War. Dubbed, the “Grey Ghost,” the Queen Mary hauled as many as 15,000 men while playing a pivotal role in guiding the allied forces to victory.
Crew members black out ship's portholes.
England and France declared war on Germany.
The Queen Mary arrives in New York.
The Birth of the Grey Ghost
Departs New York for Sydney, Australia, to be fitted as a troopship. Accommodations increased from 2,140 to 5,500.
First voyage as a troop transport. Sailed in convoy with Aquitania, Mauretania (II), Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada, and Empress of Japan, from Sydney, Australia, to Gourock, Scotland, with 5,500 troops.
August 5 - September 16
Dry docked in Singapore. Paravanes fitted.
Degaussing strip installed in Sydney.
Departs New York for Sydney, Australia, to be fitted as a troopship. Accommodations increased from 2,140 to 5,500.
January 27 - February 8
Hull damaged while entering dry dock in Boston Naval Shipyard. Troop capacity increased.
February 18 - March 28
"40 Days and 40 Nights" voyage from Boston to Sydney, Australia. First time the Queen Mary carried American troops (8,398 troops, 905 crew).
May 11 - 16
First time more than 10,000 persons had traveled on any ship (9,880 troops, 875 crew).
August 2 - 7
First time a complete division was carried on any ship. First Armored Infantry Division (15,125 troops, 863 crew).
The Queen Mary collides with British light cruiser Curacoa. Seventy tons of cement are used to temporarily patch the bow in Gourock, Scotland.
October 14 - November 2
Dry docked in Boston Naval Shipyard to install new more permanent bow piece.
December 23, 1942 - April 22, 1943
“The Long Voyage” from Gourock, to the Suez, Sydney, Australia, and return to Gourock. Total mileage: 37,943 miles. Ship transferred to Atlantic Ocean.
May 5 - 11
Winston Churchill transported from Gourock to New York, to meet with President Roosevelt. 5,000 German prisoners of war were also on board.
July 25 - 30
Carried the greatest number of people on a floating vessel: 15,740 troops, 943 crew. Total: 16,683.
August 5 - 9
Winston Churchill transported from Gourock to Halifax, Canada, for 2nd Quebec "Quadrant" conference.
August 27 - 31
Winston Churchil returns to Gourock, Scotland, with 15,116 troops.
D-Day Invasion of Europe.
The War Nears an End
Armament removed from ship, except the six-inch gun.
VE DAY (Victory Europe)
14,833 troops and 1,000 crew transported. total: 15,883.
Funnels repainted in Cunard colors.
February 3 - May 19
Six war-bride voyages, transporting 12,886 European brides and children to the United States and Canada.
May 23 - September 18
Seven war-bride voyages transporting European brides and children to Canada. Ten stowaways were discovered on the first crossing.
Docked in New York without the aid of tugs.
The Golden Years
1947 - 1961
After a 10-month retrofit the Queen Mary returns to her original glory. With her military duty over, the ship reclaims her place as a world-class ocean liner, but a sea of major changes is just a starting to become evident.
- 1946 -47
September 24 - 27, 1946
The Queen Mary makes its final military voyage from Halifax to South Hampton.
February 15 - May 3, 1947
Work to restore the ship to passenger service begins as the ship at the King George Dry Dock.
May 3 - July 24
Furnishings reinstalled after being recovered from different ports around the world.
July 23 - 25
Participating in the post-war sea trials in the English Channel and met the Queen Elizabeth for the first time during peace off the coast of South Hampton in the Solant just off Cowes.
First post-war voyage departs South Hampton New York with 1,897 passengers, 1,280 crew members under the command of Commodore Illingworth.
- 1948 -61
Two ship service begins for Cunard with the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth
December 31, 1949
In 1947, Cunard shareholders acquired the 38% of Cunard-White Star that they didn't already own and in on 1949 bought out the entire company, operating individually as the Cunard Line. The Cunard Line and White Star line merged in 1934 when the two companies had experienced financial difficulties.
June 15 - 20, 1951
Walt Disney sails aboard the Queen Mary to attend European Premier of Alice in Wonderland.
December 31, 1951
Winston Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden sail aboard the Queen Mary to visit with President Harry S. Truman.
July 11 - 15, 1952
The SS United States secures Blue Riband traveling from Bishop Rock to Ambrose Light in 3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes. The Queen Mary held the Blue Riband since August 8, 1938.
January 15 - 20, 1953
Winston Churchill sails to meet President elect Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Queen Elizabeth returns to England aboard the Queen Mary after three-week good will tour of Canada and the United States.
January 26 - March 26, 1958
Stabilizers installed aboard the ship at King George Dry Dock in South Hampton.
April 22 - 23, 1958
Record turnaround in New York of 17 hours and 58 minutes. In the early days, the ship would be in port for 36 hours.
Queen Mary transported 36 tons of gold and silver from South Hampton to New York.
Final Years at Sea
1962 - 1966
The 1960s were a decade of major change and with the rise of popularity in air travel; ocean liners were slowly becoming obsolete. The old world luxury and sensibilities of the Queen Mary seemed outdated in a modern world now transfixed on the notion of space exploration.
March 3 - 9
The Beginning of The End
Wave floods parts of Main, A and B Decks. Voyage #382 East.
Docked without the aid of tugs in New York, by Captain Watts. Voyage #397 West.
Docked without tugs in New York, by Captain S.A. Jones. Voyage #419.
December 23 - 29
First cruise: Southampton to Las Palmas. Voyage #425.
February 25 - March 23
Mediterranean cruise: New York, Las Palmas, Tangier, Piraeus, Naples, Cannes, Palma, Gibraltar, Lisbon, Madeira, New York. Voyage #477.
Cunard announces that the Queen Mary is for sale.
First letter of inquiry from H.E. Ridings of Long Beach.
August 2 - 4
In King George V Graving Dock. Fastest ever turn - around in dry dock, and first time ever sailed with passengers from dry dock. Voyage #485 West.
August 24 - 29
Fastest eastbound crossing since Blue Riband record: 4 days, 10 hours, 6 minutes. Voyage #486 East. Second fastest Atlantic crossing since 1938.
1954 - by ship: 1,000,000; by air: 600,000
1957 - by ship: 1,000,000; by air: 1,000,000
1961 - by ship: 750,000; by air: 2,000,000
1965 - by ship: 650,000; by air: 4,000,000
Long Beach Years
1967 - Present
Officially retiring from ocean travel, the Queen Mary was moved to sunny Long Beach, California where it is a living landmark, popular attraction and hotel, exposing a whole new generation of fans to bygone era.
Queens' captains open orders telling them of the decision to sell the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.
First Meeting between Lord Mancroft and Long Beach, California representatives in New York.
$3.45 million Long Beach bid accepted.
September 22 - 27
Last Eastbound transatlantic crossings. Voyage #513 East.
September 29 - October 6
Cruise from Southampton to Las Palmas & Gibraltar. Voyage #514.
October 13 - 19
Cruise from Southampton to Las Palmas. Voyage #515.
Departed Southampton on Final Voyage to Long Beach, California. Voyage #516.
The Queen Mary arrives in Long Beach, California.
Removed from British registry and officially turned over to the City of Long Beach. Ship also became fully dependent on shore-side utilities.
April 6 - May 18
Dry docked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
The Queen Mary moved to Pier J.
Queen Mary Story and Power Train Tour, and Upper Decks opened, weekends only.
Jacques Cousteau's "Living Sea" portion of Museum of the Sea (M.O.T.S.) opens.
Largest day’s attendance: 19,600.
First 150 hotel rooms opened.
Preview opening of Mary’s Gate Village (Now the Queen’s Marketplace).
Queen Mary Tour Inc. takes over operation of Museum of the Sea.
Wrather Port Properties Ltd., a subsidiary of Wrather Corporation, signs a 66-year lease to manage the Queen Mary and adjoining acreage.
Howards Hughes’ Spruce Goose flying boat opens to the public next to the Queen Mary.
Walt Disney Company buys Wrather Corporation for $152 million. The agreement includes the Disneyland Hotel, and management of the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose property.
City of Long Beach resumes responsibility for the Queen Mary from the Port of Long Beach.
Aero Club of Southern California announces sale of Spruce Goose to Evergreen International Aviation Inc. in McMinnville, Oregon.
Disney advises the City and Port of Long Beach that it will end its lease for the operation of the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose. The company agrees to operate the attraction until September 30, 1992.
Walt Disney Company gives up lease on the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose property. Remainder of 1992, The Port of Long Beach becomes operator of property, and looks for new operator. Hotel Queen Mary closes.
Spruce Goose is moved out of The Dome and put on barges headed to McMinnville, Oregon, having been sold to Evergreen International Aviation Inc.
The Queen Mary closes.
Joseph F. Prevratil, President & CEO of RMS Foundation, Inc. signs five-year lease with the city of Long Beach to act as operators of the Queen Mary.
The Queen Mary reopens to the public. Self-guided and guided "Captain's Tour" resume. Most restaurants and Sunday Brunch are back.
Hotel Queen Mary reopens with 125 rooms operational. Banquet rooms are operational.
Audio tours begin again in English, German, Japanese and Spanish.
Remainder of Hotel Queen Mary's 365 rooms reopen.
Captain John Treasure Jones, the 33rd and last captain of the Queen Mary dies at the age of 87 at his home in Chandler's Ford, England, just north of the port town of Southampton.
Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Launch and Naming of the great liner. Officiating are RMS Foundation President Joseph F. Prevratil; H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent representing the British Royal Family, grandson of Her Majesty Queen Mary; Scotland's Clydebank District Provost Jack McAllister and other special guests.
The Queen Mary celebrates the 25th Anniversary of its Opening Day
RMS Foundation, Inc., schedules Diamond Jubilee Celebration for the 60th Anniversary of the Queen Mary’s Maiden Voyage from Southampton to New York.
"Titanic: The Expedition" exhibit makes its West Coast debut aboard the Queen Mary.
The Queen Mary celebrates 30 years in Long Beach.
Two Cunard legends meet for the first time. The new Queen Mary 2 sailed into the port of Long Beach and greeted her historic namesake, the original Queen Mary. The two ships saluted each other with their one-ton signaling horns.
The Queen Mary’s amateur radio station (W6RO) is renamed the Nate Brightman Radio Room in honor of Mr. Brightman’s more than 40 years old dedication to the station.
The Queen Mary celebrates 40 years in Long Beach.
The Queen Mary celebrates her 75-year anniversary of the Maiden Voyage.
Diana: A Legacy of a Princess Royal Exhibit premiers at the Queen Mary.