110 years ago and Tyneside history is made as the Mauretania leaves the Tyne.
The ship, which was making its preliminary sea trials, was one of a string of ocean liners built in the years before and after World War I. With their dark hulls, gleaming white superstructures and towering funnels, they were stunning examples of early 20th century human achievement and supreme luxury.
The Mauretania and her sister ship, the Lusitania, were probably the most famous of them all.
Between them they held the Blue Riband - the Atlantic speed record - for more than twenty years.
Mauretania was built for the Cunard Company by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson.
The hull of the Mauretania was launched at Wallsend by the Duchess of Roxburghe on September 20, 1906.
Thousands watched the event, including families who who'd scaled the ballast hill on the opposite side of the Tyne at Hebburn.
Once the fixtures and fittings were complete, the ship finally left the Tyne the following year.
Towed out to open sea to the sound of ships' sirens and the applause of thousands of spectators lining the River Tyne, she steamed her way to Liverpool, her new home port.
At the time of her launch, Mauretania was the largest moving structure ever built.
Designed to carry 560 passengers in first class, 475 in second and 1,300 in third, plus a crew of 812, she weighed more than 30,000 tons and achieved a speed in trials of above 26 knots.
Mauretania departed Liverpool on her maiden voyage in November 1907 under the command of her first captain, John Pritchard - and later that month captured the record for the fastest eastbound crossing of the Atlantic.
In September 1909, the Mauretania captured the Blue Riband for the fastest westbound crossing.
The ship exemplified a new brand of style.
The first-class accommodation was a marvel of Edwardian opulence, with the principal rooms in luxurious French and Italian Renaissance styles.
The grand staircase was fifteenth-century Italian and the two dining saloons were in the style of Francis I. The lounge was 80-feet long in the Louis XVI manner, with graceful columns supporting a dome in cream and gold.
The grand smoking room was in Italian Renaissance again, with a marble chimneypiece, surmounted by a carved wooden hood copied from a Della Robbia original.
There was a special children's room decorated with paintings of scenes from 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' and equipped with a huge rocking horse.
The cabins were similarly stylish and comfortable, and the secondclass and third-class rooms were a considerable improvement on all previous standards.
Back in 1839 the fastest Atlantic crossing had taken thirty days to New York and twenty days back. Mauretania could do it in five days each way.
During World War I, Mauretania was used as a hospital ship. After the war she returned to her civilian trade, but was finally scrapped at Rosyth, in Scotland, in 1935.
More than a century after she set sail on the open seas, the very name Mauretania remains a testament to the glory days of Swan Hunter and shipbuilding on the River Tyne.
The lounge was 80-feet long in the Louis XVI manner, with graceful columns supporting a dome in cream and gold
Watched by large crowds, the Mauretania leaves the River Tyne on her preliminary sea trials on September 17, 1907
The hull of the Mauretania takes to the water for the first time, September 20, 1906 (The History Press)
Shipyard workers stream away from the Mauretania, 1907
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Sep 18, 2017|
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