The First Class Smoking Room



The first class smoking room on Promenade Deck was a smart room designed to appeal to both sexes. Brightened by light from large windows on both sides, modern surrealist paintings on the bulkheads, carefully coordinated multi-colored leather furniture, carpets and linoleum, it was another example of the sophisticated blend of the traditional and modern that won the Queen Mary the hearts and loyalty of her first class passengers.


Left - Rare pre-war color photo of the first class smoking room - then called cabin class. Note the circular form of the columns. After the war these were "squared off."



                                                   Map showing original layout

According to the Shipbuilder,

"The beautifully proportioned smoking room which occupies the aftermost part of the promenade deck house, extends through two ‘tween decks, and the apartment is surmounted by a large dome, giving a height of about 22 ft. The horizontal dimensions are 42ft. by 69ft. Fewer concessions to the modern spirit have been made here than in any other room. Messrs. Trollope & Sons have been responsible for carrying out the decorative scheme of this apartment.

Left - A carving detail from the room's cornice.

The fireplace in travertine has a large dog-grate, burning coal – the only fireplace of its kind on board. The mural decorations, in English oak, with a dado and low panels quartered in walnut burr, create a restful and dignified atmosphere; while the large armchairs are fully in keeping with the general scheme. Among the furnishings of this apartment are some notable examples of leather craft, represented in wing chairs in red and mauve, blue and beige, and brown. They are provided with steel springs, and are stuffed with horsehair. There are four large panels on the fore and aft boundaries, and at the sides of the chimney piece and bulletin board. These are of tiger oak burr, a natural wood which has a remarkable resemblance to tiger skin.

The beauty of the woodwork is enhanced by two pierced and carved screens flanking the fireplace, which have been executed by Mr. James Woodford, A.R.B.S., while at the forward and after ends of the room are two striking paintings by. Mr. Edward Wadsworth. The clock is set in an elaborate decorative surround, and further interest is provided by a striking series of cast-bronze electric-light sconce fittings, by Mr. James Woodford, in which motifs of playing cards figures are set against a background of tobacco leaves.

Painting   Painting

"The Sea" and "Dressed Overall at the Quay" by Edward Wadsworth, which face each other on opposite fore and aft walls of the Smoking Room.


Edward Wadsworth painting one of the pictures above.

The metal work is mainly in bronze, relief and interest being secured by the occasional introduction of silver bronze. The floor is richly carpeted, the center of the room being covered with a large hand-made Wilton rug in shades of dark brown, gold and cream, which introduces patterns in red and blue.

On the starboard side of the smoking room a small cocktail bar is provided."


History of Use

1936 - 1939 – Cabin (or first) Class smoking room as described above.

1940 - 1946 – The Queen Mary was used as a troop transport during World War II.

Room in 1950's

Left - The room in the 1950's

1947 - 1967 – In the postwar refit the smoking room was fully restored. The ceiling was lowered slightly to accommodate better air ventilation and cooling systems – sacrificing the "striking series of cast-bronze electric-light sconce fittings, by Mr. James Woodford, in which motifs of playing cards figures are set against a background of tobacco leaves." But in 1967 the original 1936 compliment of furnishings (chairs, tables, desks, heavy, hand-woven Wilton carpets, etc.) were in place when the Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach.

1968 to present – like all original passenger lounges from all three classes on the Queen Mary, the first class smoking room was stripped of all furnishings and pressed into service as a multi-purpose catering room.

Left, the room after a catering event in 1990


Modern deck plan.

Some of the carvings by James Woodford (mentioned above) in the room today.

The result of this "conversion" is a still handsome and impressive " banqueting ballroom" called the "Royal Salon." It is unfortunately a darkened shadow of its former self. The paneling in the core area of the room is repaired along with water damage to the ceiling and the carpeting replaced every decade or so.

The black and white 1936 Stewart Bale photograph on the left above shows the wood paneling and screens surrounding the fireplace in the first class smoking room.  Note the light filtering through the screen and projecting flags on the wood panel behind it.  Like flags were incorporated into the painting over the fireplace.  This is an example of the subtle beauty of detail in the decor aboard the Queen Mary that passengers found astonishing.  At present the effect is totally lost as the screen is blocked with plywood panel (photos - right) and the area behind the fireplace is used as a rude storage pantry. 

Click on the images to expand them to full size.

Restoration Potential

Damage in the forward part of the Smoking Room today. These areas were once part of the room. They were an alcove with game tables.

Another view of this area

Full restoration is achievable but is dependant on a reassessment of the functions assigned to this room. See the articles entitled "The Upper Deck Public Rooms and Lounges - creating a world class entertainment venue on the Queen Mary" ; and "Banquets, Brunches and Buffets - creating a shipboard experience for banqueting guests" -- in the Alternative Vision series for greater details

Our views on functional restoration are illustrated in our proposed deck plan for Promenade deck.

A possible restoration showing restored pre-war turnabout.

We believe that the value of an attraction and of a banqueting venue resides in its uniqueness and panache. The fabulous suite of public rooms on the promenade deck was the crowning glory of the Queen Mary. Perhaps they will once again see the light of day in a fashion that makes them recognizable even to people fortunate enough to have sailed on her in her heyday.

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