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The 75th Anniversary of the Maiden Voyage of the RMS Queen Mary

                                             May 28, 2011
                                                       last updated June 27, 2011

I was aboard on Friday, May 27, 2011 --  the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Queen Mary's maiden voyage from Southampton to NYC via Cherbourg, France.  There were a good number of people about particularly for a week day.   The operator has pulled together some new exhibits on the upper decks, perhaps in honor of this occasion, and for the upcoming tourist season.  They are definitely a step in the right direction, although the objects assembled for display are still a work in progress. 

Playroom Display - see also: http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/play.html

A portion of the area that includes some of the space where the 1st class, (called cabin class prewar), childrens' playroom was originally located and which has been closed and empty for a year been set up as a multi-class children's playroom display.  

A variety of  original playroom objects that were formerly displayed on Sun Deck and then, more recently, in the former music room on the port side of Promenade Deck are now on display here.  (Note: The forward portion of this display room was originally a deck storage locker, however the larger aft end of the original playroom, where a sink was installed in recent years for use as a pastry outlet, has been walled off and separated from this display.) 

Please see the quick photos.


Photo of the canvas in storage by Sean Hankins 2009.  And another portion of the mural from the second class children's playroom as photographed by Stuart Kelly in 2007.

Initially I thought that a portion of the badly stored canvas from the second class playroom was salvaged and mounted for exhibit.    But a review of photos taken by Stuart Kelly in 2007 shows that other canvases were available.

                                                   The playroom being installed in 1936.

                  And as completed.  This is the portion of the room not included in the display.

                                        This aft end of this facility as it appeared in use in 1936.  
Interestly, most of the objects come from the third class playroom on B deck, which is now closed and used as a storage closet, although it is directly on the guided tour route.  Perhaps in the future the walk in window used in the travel bureau display might serve as a convenient way of viewing a completely restored third class playroom. 

(left) The third class playroom circa 1936.   (right)  A photo of the entrance to the third class playroom today. Courtesy of the RMS Queen Mary Facebook page.   See: http://www.facebook.com/RMSQueenMary

As I was browsing the web I became aware of a similarly themed display that also just opened in the former imperial children's rooms of the Alexander Palace in Russia.

The Children's Playroom Exhibit combines historic exhibits with interactive features for young children in an adacent area.   See a photo of the adjacent area at the Alexander Palace.


It is an interesting idea that might work at the Queen Mary.  

So what is the adjacent area to the Playroom Display on the Queen Mary currently being used for?   Adjacent is the decked over forward funnel hatch.  As it stands today it is used for the Captain's Arcade, a video arcade that I have rarely seen in use.


The children's playroom of a contemporary cruise ship.  Note the similarity to the toys used on the Queen Mary in 1936.


Music Room Display - see also: http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/music.html

The Music Room was a first class facilty that was available for passengers, often entertainers and musicians, wishing to keep in practice during a crossing.  Carol Marlow, formerly president of Cunard, suggested that Noel Coward or Cole Porter may have tinkled the ivories in this room as passengers.  It was located on the starboard side of promenade deck.  The space has also been reclaimed to suggest its original function.



Much of the paneling, one of three original etched glass windows survive as well as the three clerestory level ethched glass windows. (The center window at this level is still not illuminated and has no natural light.)


Photos of one of the etched glass window panels and frame removed from the Music Studio in the Long Beach conversion when a door was added to the portside enclosed promenade.  This panel was sold several years ago on ebay and is now in private hands.  The owner would consider donating it back to the Queen Mary if the ship is ever curated properly and the wall restored.

The inlaid parquet floor was apparently destroyed over the years.  It was probably covered with a thick rug almost immediately to dampen the sound of the custom art case Steinway grand piano that originally occupied most of this room.  


An original Queen Mary microphone and music stand has been returned to the room as have other furnishings, such as the small upright piano, but they are from elsewhere on the ship.  Furnishings more closely matching the originals, are currently being sought.


Travel Bureau Display - see also: http://www.sterling.rmplc.co.uk/visions/travelbureau.html

The first class travel bureau was significantly restored to its postwar state in the mid-1990's but has not been open to the public for viewing.   It is now a fine display, particularly because the postwar paneling, etched glass windows and wall-sized map are intact.  The furnishings are either from this room or are very close examples.  The exhibits team has also assembled a nice display of ephemera that suggests its prior use.  A walk-in glass wall allows visitors to enter the room much as passengers did.  I overheard a visitor saying that "it really makes you feel that you are on a working ship."


A special thanks for the efforts of Mr. John Thomas, the Queen Mary's historical consultant, Ms. Jacki Fanzo, the attraction manager, and Mr. George Gonzoles, the head of the Engineering Department of the Queen Mary, and all of those involved for making these displays happen.


Travel Bureau

Hi Bill -

Is the etched glass door still hung or has it been stored? I can't tell from the photos.

Re: Travel Bureau

Joel, please see the new photo I just added. It answers your question.

Re: Travel Bureau

Thank you, Bill!


Keeping an eye on the Queen

Hi Bill,

I just wanted to thank you for your terrific advocacy for the Queen Mary.

I was fortunate enough to be in the LA area last week, which allowed me to stay on the ship for the first time. My checkout date was the 27th - which at least allowed me to mark the 75th anniversary, if not partake in the celebrations. I sorely regretted that I couldn't stay longer. I was so excited to be on board after admiring it from afar for many years. Even in a diminished state it is an extraordinary and wonderful thing - a true survivor.

You said in your interview on KBEACH radio that the Queen Mary lacks a 'natural constituency' in Long Beach, and I'm sure that's true - particularly as the ship seems to be regarded as a white elephant. The Queen Mary's true constituency is international in nature, and perhaps that international constituency needs to get together to push for better things for the great ship. I would love to get involved some way.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I appreciate the work you're doing, and I love the blog - I've learned a lot already. The ship must be restored - in just the ways you're pushing for. It is a treasure, no different than the Empire State Building or the Guggenheim Museum. Its true remarkable nature will only get clearer with the passage of time - as long as long as efforts are made to keep reclaiming more and more of those parts of the ship that are now neglected or outright abused.



Re: Keeping an eye on the Queen

Thank you for your response Amanda. I agree with you that "the Queen Mary is a treasure, no different than the Empire State Building or the Guggenheim Museum". Getting international support would be very helpful. Getting the leaders of Long Beach to truly recognize this and then to do something about it would be remarkable.

Thank you,


Restoration continues...

This is a pleasent surpize seeing aspects of the ship slowly being brought back to her authentic state. The original travel bureau is a beautiful example of her great merit. The last time I was aboard, the children's playroom was displayed in the original radio room (I'm guessing they were using it while preping the original space?).

It is relieving to see the progress that has been made so far. I pray Godspeed in the further polishing (if you will) of the original splendor that is the RMS Queen Mary. Thank you, Bill, for sharing and participating in the development of this one of kind treasure.


Long Ago and Far Away

It's a long time since we walked home from grade school together but it's great to see you alive and working on such a worthy project. Matt B, Carol O and I communicate on Facebook from time to time. Look us up.

Re: Long Ago and Far Away

I'm not certain who you are as you didn't sign. But thank you for posting a response.

Bill Cwiklo