The First Class Gymnasium and Squash-Racquets Court

The first class gymnasium and squash racquet court were situated on Sun deck amidships. The gymnasium was located on the port side and measured 36 ft by 20 ft by 11 ft in height.

Location of Gymnasium and Squash-racquets court on Sun Deck, as originally constructed in 1936.

Gymnasium and Squash Court

One of the primary features of the decorative treatment was an unusual multi-wood veneer wall treatment.

Per the Shipbuilder:

"The shaded effect is secured by the use of seven different timbers disposed in horizontal bands and ranging from dark American walnut at the base through gradually lightening shades of Australian walnut, French walnut, teak, Australian oak, and British oak to light ash for the topmost course. The various bandings are separated by narrow sections

A special feature of the decorative treatment of the gymnasium is the frieze, 1 ft. 6 in. in depth, which is carried right around the room. This feature is decorated in humorous fashion by coloured caricatures of well-known international sporting characters, which have been executed by Mr. Tom Webster. Large rectangular windows open on to the sun deck while the artificial lighting is of the concealed type. Three protected fittings are in the centre of the room.

A sample section of the frieze.

The floor is laid with Korkoid in a striking design with large squares in black and white marble, and with borders in the same colours".

Equipment included:

Adjacent to the gymnasium was a full-sized squash-racquets court. Great care was taken in the design of the court to ensure sound-proofing from adjacent areas and to prevent vibration to the deck below. Lighting was carefully planned for uniformity. A skylight with a diffused glass laylight beneath was designed to preclude the possibility of shadows. Special provisions for fresh air were also made to ensure a perfect game environment.

A spectators' balcony bounded by a bronze balustrade and wall paneling of sycamore and walnut moldings completed the setting.

History of Use

1936 - 1939 - This gymnasium and squash court were used as described above in the pre-war period

1940 - 1947 - The Queen Mary was used as a troopship. The assignment of function to these areas remains on the troopship Queen Mary remains to be identified.

1947 - 1967 - In the postwar conversion from troopship back to ocean liner the pre-war gymnasium was relocated to the space occupied by the squash-racquets court between 1936-1939. The use then assigned to the original gymnasium was unknown. Postwar deck plans for Sun deck show the outline of the space but do not identify its function.

Tom Wilkie, an engineer on the Queen Mary in the 1950's and 1960's informs us that during that period the pre-war gymnasium space was being used as a ward room for engineers.

Mr. Wilkie writes that:

"When I joined the ship the room was virtually unused; the aft bulkhead had bookshelves and cabinets and there were a few sofas, chairs and small tables scattered around. It looked like a typical reading room, with access to the Sun Deck. This was the Engineer Officers' wardroom.

This photo was taken in the forward part of the gymnasium used as the engineers' wardroom.

In the early sixties a bar was added in the forward outboard corner and the popularity of the room increased tremendously. On the Starboard side of the ship directly opposite, also with access to the deck, there were four or five cabins; this was called the Engineers' forward quarters".

We thank Mr. Wilkie for this information that "fills in the blanks" about these two areas. (They are now used as seating areas for a fast food service on Sun deck.) Mr. Wilkie's information also explains the existance of the two small external stairs to Sun deck -- that do not show up in the 1936 "as built" deckplans.

1968 to present - Both the original gymnasium space and the post-war gymnasium in the former racquet-squash court were gutted in the Long Beach conversion.


Post war deck-plan of this area. The Gymnasium now occupies the space which used to be the Squash Court. The old Gym area is no longer assigned a name in this plan as it is now an officer's wardroom.

1990s Deckplan

The modern layout of the area. The yellow area is roughly the space formerly occupied by the post-war gymnasium and pre-war squash court

Pre-war gymnasium - The original gymnasium space is now incorporated as the port side seating area of the "Hollywood Deli", a fast food eatery specializing in pizza, sandwiches and pastries. The gymnasium space is identifiable by the raised level of the original ceiling. What appears to be original ventilation equipment is still in place.

The first class gym today. Move your mouse over the photo to see the same view of the room in 1936.

Today's gymnasium exhibit is in the “ship museum” on D and E decks, housing original equipment that could and should be used to furnish the restored room.


Squash court - The Sun deck level walls of the post-war gymnasium (former squash-racquet court) were removed in the Long Beach conversion. The area is now simply a wide corridor bridging the gap between the "Hollywood Deli" and the “Gallery” that now occupies some of the space where shops were inserted during the Long Beach conversion. The shops replaced first class single cabins that were located on forward Sun deck while the Queen Mary was at sea. By 1980 the shops all failed and they were turned into historic exhibit areas.

Bakery Today
Inside the Hollywood Deli today looking towards the starboard side of the ship. The Squash Racquets Court area is (was) directly in the corridor area leading off to the left of this picture.

The upper level of the squash court / post-war gymnasium was decked over in the conversion. The skylight - minus the laylight of diffuse glass -- is still in place and can be seen on Sports deck. It is in the area where an exhibit of antique home radios vies for attention with a remnant of the original Queen Mary switchboard.

Potential for restoration and re-use

Proposed Layout of Sun deck
A possible rearrangement of Sun Deck.

As the deck plan for a partially restored Sun deck indicates, we believe that Sun deck can place a crucial role in breathing life back into the historic ship. We believe that key features of the original sun deck such as the pre-war gymnasium and squash racquet court should be reconstructed and used as part of the self-guided tour areas that visitors can view between paid guided tours.

The remainder of forward Sun deck, gutted in the 1967-71 conversion, might house the needed tourist restaurant/hotel coffee house facilities that were inserted into the starboard side of the enclosed Promenade deck. (Daily visitors are a fact of life on the Queen Mary and need to be serviced.) The second funnel hatch and starboard side adjacencies might provide the galley space for this facility.

By moving the upper deck kitchens up to the rear deckhouse on Sun deck - directly above where they are today, then Promenade Deck, the show stopper of the pre-war Queen Mary, is available for full restoration and reuse as a world class entertainment/hospitality venue, museum retail area and historic tourist attraction.

The only loss to the current operation would be administrative offices in the former engineers quarters of the rear deck house. Since Cunard White-Star managed to run the Queen Mary and a fleet of other ships from their land based offices, we presume the current operation could do the same.

Cost and Revenue Potential

The costs involved in reconstructing the pre-war gymnasium and squash-racquet court are significant, but not necessarily astronomical. Both might be accomplished for $100,000 to $150,000.

Gymnasium There is probably enough original gymnasium equipment still aboard the Queen Mary to furnish the gym. (We see the restored gym as a docent manned stop on the self-guided tour of the upper decks, not a working gymnasium for hotel guests.) Replacing the marbleized linoleum flooring is a simple inexpensive task. That flooring is still readily available in 24'' by 24" squares. And three of the four walls are still in place. The inboard wall was removed in the conversion. Once it was reconstructed, the major costs would be recreating the wood paneling and sports cartoon frieze. It was extensively photographed and number of artists might recreate it. (We are presuming the original is irretrievable lost.)

Squash Court The base floor with its sound and vibration protection remains. The upper level with the skylight is still in place. To reconstruct the squash court the Sun deck level walls need to be reconstructed and the Sun deck level ceiling that was added in the Long Beach conversion removed. The diffuse glass laylight beneath the skylight needs to be recreated along with the spectator's balcony, internal staircase - and the exterior staircase, which is now derelict and partially removed. This facility might be reserved for hotel guests use with the spectator's balcony open to visitors.

The revenue potential of these reconstructed rooms depends on the transforming the Queen Mary from a passive walk-through tourist attraction into a world-class historic attraction, entertainment and hospitality center, and working ship with an upscale in-port cruise program. Considering that there are serious plans to reconstruct two versions of the Titanic at a cost of $600 to $800 million each - a $200 million dollar renovation and restoration of the far grander and more illustrious Queen Mary is a bargain.

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