R.M.S. Mauretania 1907-1935



In observance of the anniversary of the launch of this great vessel, 100 years ago today, these photographs and cards have been assembled from my collection and presented here in sequence.  Several have not been published before and some have remained unseen for 100 years.

The Mauretania was launched by The Duchess of Roxburgh on a rainy Thursday at 4:15 p.m. with approximately 30,000 spectators on both sides of the river.  Other than a yard worker being cut by the broken champagne bottle used during the christening, the event took place as planned.  The following images detail the launch from start to finish.


A scarce launch ticket entitling the bearer entrance to the Neptune Works in Walker to witness this event – at his own risk.  The purple stamp likely indicated admittance.  It is signed and dated in ink on the reverse "S. Brodie 20.09.06 Neptune Works."

On the stocks just prior to launch. Protective coverings can be seen in place on the propellers.  When enlarged, this rare glass slide reveals scores of the men who built her on her decks, apparently aware they are being photographed as a group – very unusual.  Photographer unknown.
Heading down the ways towards the water, the smoke from the friction caused by the moving ship as well as the chains used to slow and finally stop her are visible in the foreground. Real photo postcard likely by A. Black of Newcastle.

Moving faster now.  This port view taken from the northern side of the river and just south of the launch cradle shows the Mauretania’s stern entering water for the very first time.  The flags give an indication of her speed. The message on the reverse describes the event. This card was produced and posted from Wallsend less than 24 hours after the launch. Real photo postcard.  Photographer unknown.

A three-quarter aft view of the launch showing the cradle and attending vessels from across the river.  Real photo postcard by Frank and Sons of Gateshead.

Perhaps unique, this photo card of the launch is unusually atmospheric and was taken down river looking north. From this distance the scale of the event and the overwhelming size of the Mauretania become apparent. On the reverse, the photographer asks, "What do you think of my 'snapshotting' of Mauretania?"  Private photocard. 

A view from across the river showing the very end of the launch.  Scores of onlookers can be seen in the foreground.  Although a wet day, many of the 30,000 spectators picnicked at the river's edge. Real photo postcard by A. Black of Newcastle.

A printed postcard taken from right next to the launch cradle after the event.  The plating shed is directly behind the photographer.  This card, posted from Wallsend at 1 p.m. on February 8, 1907, bears a message on the reverse from a Swan employee to his parents describing the work aboard Mauretania, his hours, and mentioning the fixing of her funnels by February.  Printed postcard by Andrew Reid and Co. of Newcastle-on-Tyne.


All images and text © Eric Longo 2006



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© 2006 Eric Sauder

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