Steamship Saturday – The Cunard Line at 175 Years

Steamship Saturday

The Cunard Line at 175 Years

Cunard 175

In May of 2015, the Cunard Line celebrated its 175th Anniversary. Thus, this coming May will mark the line’s 176th year. Last week’s post about Cunard’s Mauritania outlined in broad strokes the founding of the company in 1840 by Nova Scotia native Samuel Cunard.

The  company eventually established its headquarters in Liverpool though many of its ships’ transatlantic crossings originated from Southampton. Thus Cunard’s spiritual home, if no longer its official home, is Liverpool, the start of so many voyages of international travel, emigration and business for over a century. Liverpool is no longer a major port, having lost out to containerization, but boasts an attractive and historic docks area, with a major maritime museum and some impressive architecture. For its 175th anniversary, Cunard assembled its three QueensMary 2, Elizabeth and Victoria – in Liverpool on the River Mersey to celebrate. The three great liners sailed down the river then executed a synchronized turn while the Red Arrows flight team (similar to the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels) did a flyover. Here’s a 7 minute video of the event.

Cunard's Three Queens sail down Mersey, Liverpool, Britain - 25 May 2015

Cunard’s three Queens sail on the River Mersey past the building formerly housing Cunard’s headquarters in Liverpool.

Cunard offices

Beginning with Cunard’s first steamship, the Britania, the smokestacks on Cunard liners have been painted red with narrow black bands and a black cap. Thus for its 175th Anniversary, it was fitting that the company would incorporate that distinctive smokestack in publicity of the anniversary:


Cunard now is in the cruise liner business and part of the larger Carnival Corporation. Cunard’s modern three Queens entered service as follows: Queen Mary 2 (2004), Queen Victoria (2007, 90,000 tons) and the Queen Elizabeth (2010, 92,000). Queen Mary 2 has a gross tonnage of 149,000 tons, almost twice that of the original RMS Queen Mary which entered service in 1936.



Pancakes aboard a rusty old ship!

ROV at sunrise

“Chris-to-Fear” reminds San Francisco Bay Area readers of the Pancake Breakfast, Sunday 10 May, aboard the Red Oak Victory in Richmond Harbor.

ROV Pancake Breakfast


Add yours →

  1. jack darnell 09/04/2016 — 07:21

    Love the pictures of the ‘Three Queens’! I would have loved to been an able bodied seaman there in my youth, but not a ‘snipe’ (Engine-man). Imma thinking those dudes sweated!
    THANKS good story.

    Have a great weekend.


    • Can you imagine how those “snipes” sweated when the engines were fueled by coal? I’ve often thought that one of he hardest jobs at sea would have been the coal stokers. I’ve been in the engine room of the sub “Pampanito” when they’ve had three of the four diesels running and felt the heat generated by them – and I’m sure the engine rooms of the steamships, whether passenger or military, would be even hotter. (One of the engines on “Pampanito” is inoperable because it has been cut away to show the inner workings of the engine.)


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