Notes on Methodology


The Deck-by-Deck Series


The first series, the deck-by-deck study of the Queen Mary was researched and written (and continues to be written) over a period of more than 20 years. 


The Ship as Built


The detailed descriptions of the amenities found aboard the Queen Mary in its as-built condition are largely derived from the Souvenir Number of the Shipbuilder and Marine Engine Builder, published in June 1936 The Shipbuilder is considered the “bible” of the ship by its students.  The engineering design, the navigational equipment and the passenger facilities and amenities were covered in great detail in this special issue.  [1]


Many of the photos of the interiors as built are also drawn from the Shipbuilder.  Most, but not all of these are the work of Stewart Bale, a Liverpool based photographic firm, (father and son using the same name), that served as Cunard’s official photographer for their ships from the time of the first Mauretania to the end of the sea life of the Queen Mary in late 1967. [2]  The early 1936 color photos of the Queen Mary were taken by Madame Yevonnde, a London photographer, for an article published in Fortune Magazine in 1937.


The deck plans identified as built are also from the above identified edition of the Shipbuilder.  We hope to replace these with the more detailed deck plans that were supplied to Long Beach by Cunard along with the ship in 1967.  They show the planned position of every table and chair on the entire ship and would serve as a godsend to any restoration plan for the ship.


C.W.R. Winter’s “The Queen Mary – her early years recalled” is in our opinion the best book on the pre-war years of the Queen Mary, 1936 to 1939.  Mr. Winter was an electrical engineer aboard the ship at the time of the maiden voyage in 1936.  His acute observations, sardonic humor and warmth bring this period of the ship to life.  It was a privilege getting to know Mr. Winter, then in his 80s, when I served as curator and historian for the Queen Mary from 1993 to 1995.  


Renee Simon’s book entitled “Destination Long Beach: The Queen Mary Story” is an excellent book on the history of the Queen Mary in Long Beach from 1967 to the end of 1992.  The coverage of the time period since 1992 needs rethinking and revision.



Changes to the Queen Mary during the sea life of the ship


There were only two periods of significant change to the passenger accommodations on the Queen Mary during its sea life.   The first significant change was during World War 2. These changes were viewed as temporary and virtually all of them were meticulously removed after wartime service.  The ocean liner that was designed and built to carry approximately 2,500 passengers and approximately 1,200 crew was transformed in stages into a troop ship that carried at one point over 16,000 souls.  These changes took place between 1940 and 1944.  (It is our intent to note them in the articles about specific areas of the ship.) 


The second period of significant change was in 1947.  After the Queen Mary was returned to Cunard following World War 2 service the ship was restored to its original use as a luxury transatlantic liner.  Most of the passenger accommodations were restored to their as built condition, however some changes were made.  These post-war changes are readily identified by comparing the deck plans published by Cunard in 1947 for all three classes to those found in the 1936 Shipbuilder.   


The changes that took place in the 1950s to the late 1965 were with a few exceptions primarily related to the reassignment of accommodations from one class of passengers to another due to changing economic conditions.  These changes were also discovered by studying the various releases of the deck plans. All in all, the changes made to passenger accommodations on the Queen Mary in her 31 year sea life were remarkably few compared to the frequent remodeling done aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 since her debut in 1969.


The Long Beach Period 1967 to the present


The changes, generally called the “conversion”, made to the Queen Mary since it arrival in Long Beach are documented in articles published in the Long Beach press, documents retained in the archives of the ship, other documents currently in the possession of the City of Long Beach and in the archives of the Long Beach Public Library.  Since plans changed, sometimes dramatically, the ship itself served as our primary reference as to what actually did happen.  


The Historical Society of Long Beach retains a key city sponsored consultant’s report that was generated for the city manager before the purchase was complete.  It recommended far fewer conversion changes than actually took place and perhaps this explains the wide discrepancy between original projected costs and the ultimate reality. 


The Long Beach Public Library special collections retains one of the presentation copies made for the City of Long Beach by Diner’s Club - Queen Mary of their conversion plan for the ship.  While impressive in it use of graphics, it does not demonstrate great understanding of the functioning of the hotel facilities and services aboard the Queen Mary.  Its implementation was never totally completed but never-the-less it led to the unnecessary destruction of many intriguing amenities of the great ocean liner such as the Turkish baths on R deck, the Jewish Scroll Room on B deck and the crucial working alley on current C deck.   


The California Museum’s plans for inserting a literal translation of their long planned but never built shore based maritime heritage museum into the five lower decks of the ship was publish only days after the ship arrived in Long Beach.  Long Beach citizens were very curious about how this plan could have been completed so rapidly.  In fact it was simply a force fit of a pre-existing museum plan that was designed for shore-side construction at the base of Pine Avenue.  The maritime museum exhibits were simply shown placed aboard the ship after a very quick and superficial engineering analysis of the ship while still in service.   As partially built, this plan was modified to fit Jacques Cousteau’s concepts for a  “living sea” museum.    

The ship as it is currently

The deck plans for the current condition of the ship were created about 1990 and were supplied to us by the City of Long Beach.  They reflect the ship as converted by the city.  (These will be updated as required -- for example the changes made to the forward lower decks for the "Ghosts and Legends" show, need to be added.)  Our descriptions of changes are based on direct observation of work in progress over a period of more than 20 years and are a team effort. 

The ship as recommended

The recommended changes are based on a careful analysis of the "ship as built" and the reality of the "ship as is."  The operational analysis took place slowly over a period of more than 20 years and has been a team effort.  Special thanks to Jeff Taylor for illustrating the tremendous potential of quarters apparently casually destroyed in the initial conversion.  His knowledge of the ship as built is phenomenal.  Rob Jacobs of Fogbank Industrial Arts provided the illustrations of his models for the rebuilt boiler rooms generally referred to as the Yarrow Project.  The article on the power train was written by Julian Hill, our publisher and a long-time scholar of the history of the Queen Mary.

The Alternative Visions Series

The series entitled Alternative Visions is conceptually an alternative operational plan for the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  We believe that the operational plan in place since the Long Beach  “conversion” is one of the primary causes for the continued financial instability of the ship.  It results in an operation that vastly underutilizes the great ship.  That operational strategy is based on an assumption that the way to make the ship “pay its way” is to minimize operational costs while optimizing the possibility for revenue in each area of the ship.  This approach results in a shabby ship with many locked rooms awaiting clients ready to prepay for services.


The assumption behind the alternative visions series is that “the whole is worth more than the some of the parts.”  If you create a valid Queen Mary experience in an in port setting you can both charge more and make more money from the operation than you can by simply exploiting the ship while cutting costs to the bare bones.  You can also use much more of the ship, largely as it was designed to be used, on a day-to-day basis and generate more revenue.


The principle that guides the assignment of function in all areas of the ship is highest and best use based on the history of that facility during the sea life of the ship.  For example, we recommend restoring the full suite of first class public rooms on promenade deck based on their prewar configuration.  This not only brings back a highlight of the great ocean liner but it creates a venue that is unrivaled in the region as a place for providing corporate hospitality services.  Likewise the first class library on promenade deck would make a fine site for a bookstore.


Business Plan


As the alternative visions series developed the question of “how much would it cost to create” was a frequently asked question.  Our business analyst, Michael Woods, pointed out that the revenue generation potential of a restored Queen Mary operated as recommended in the alternative vision series was actually the first question that needed to be answered.   The business plan is a serious attempt to answer that question.


[1] A few details noted in the Shipbuilder were apparently changed before the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary.  Those noted by the author are:


[2]  Stewart Bale photos of the interiors are each remarkable artistic compositions.  They create a wonderfully balanced impression of each room.  Checking the photos against detailed deck plans it become clear that the photographer sometimes rearranged furniture for the benefit of the composition of the photo.  Likewise cloth table drapes are sometimes removed for the photos of lounges enhancing the rooms’ sleek, modern look.