The Construction of the Queen Mary

Stern ConstructionThe stern of the Queen Mary being built.

The Queen Mary's keel plates were laid on 27 December 1930, and work progressed well at first. New ground in shipbuilding was being broken, as the Queen Mary was half as big again as the previous largest liner, the Majestic. It was thought that job "534" would be ready for launching in early 1932, but the depression was to stop this. Business was slow for Cunard during these years, and the company did not have the money to complete the Queen Mary.

Work stopped on 11 December, 1931. For 27 months, the unfinished hull stood as a symbol of the plight of Britain during these difficult years. The importance of the ship to a small country like Britain is easily overlooked. The ship was seen as a matter of national pride - a fact evidenced by her eventual naming after the monarch's wife. This was the first time a ship had had such a prestigious name in Britain

The Member of Parliament, David Kirkwood said "As long as # 534 lies like a skeleton in my constituency, so long will the depression last in this country. To me, it seems to shout 'Failure! Failure!' to the whole of Britain". The government gave in to pressure in 1934 and agreed to loan Cunard the money to finish the ship.

Wooden piles Propellers

Left- The Queen Mary weighed about 36,000 tons when she was launched. This weight needed a lot of support, as can be seen in this picture. Notice the man looking up at the Queen Mary at the bottom right of the photo.

Right - Workmen are dwarfed by the size of the Queen Mary's Starboard inner propeller. After being cast, the propellers took 14 days to cool. They were so finely balanced though, that they could be made to turn by the pressure of a little finger. One of the propellers is viewable on the ship today.

In April 1934 work started again. 400 workers marched triumphantly back to the shipyard to the tune of bagpipes. 130 tons of rust had to be cleaned from the hull first, along with a lot of birds' nests, but on 26 September 1934, 534's hull was ready for launching.

Return to History Index or go on with the history of the ship: The Launching of the Hull

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