Our September 2015 talk - reviewed by Beryl Plent

On 28th September Les Cox took us through the 175 year history of the Cunard shipping line, beginning with the first Atlantic crossing in 1840 by the Royal Mail Steam-Packet Co. steamship 'Britannia' from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and ending with the 2015 anniversary celebrations which took place in Liverpool.

Among the colourful array of ships illustrated were RMS Lucania, built in 1893, and Mauretania, a sister ship to the Lusitania, so tragically sunk by enemy torpedo in 1915. Carpathia was the ship whose honoured Captain Rostron rescued the Titanic's 706 survivors. Caronia, the elegant 'green goddess', was the first to be purpose-built for cruising. Aquitania served from 1914 until 1950, carrying 618 1st class, 614 2nd class, 2000 3rd class passengers and 972 crew. Franconia was famous for the on-board conference of Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt in 1945.

Cunard ships served in the Crimean war, and in WW1 twenty were lost. As they could outrun German U-boats, they were utilised as WW2 troop carriers. From the 1920s onwards liners became a popular mode of travel. Cunard passengers included famous filmstars, dignitaries and even royals. Despite a new head office having been established in Southampton in 1919, operations continued at Cunard Building, Liverpool until 1967 and the ships still bore LIVERPOOL on their sterns.

Now the most prestigious cruise-liner company, Cunard's huge ships, such as Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Victoria transport thousands to all corners of the globe. The historic maiden voyage made by Samuel Cunard and 65 passengers, 175 years ago, was commemorated by QM2's departure from the Liverpool terminal on 4th July 2015, and when the three modern-day Queens sailed up the Mersey on 25th May, they were welcomed over a three-day period by an estimated 1.3 million people!

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Page created 26 Jan 2016 by MRC, last updated 30 Jan 2016