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A floating palace and an ocean greyhound; THE MAURETANIA HELD THE COVETED BLUE RIBAND FOR 20 YEARS.

TOGETHER with her stablemates Lusitania and Aquitania, the Mauretania was renowned as one of the Edwardian era's great 'floating palaces.' .' The Tyne and Wear-built liner, launched in 1906, was also truly an ocean greyhound, holding the coveted Blue Riband title for no fewer than 20 years.

It was a title Cunard, through the Mauretania, had wrestled back from Germany's four funnel superliners, and in the face of a renewed challenge from her Liverpool rival the White Star Line.

The Mauretania could transport 2,165 passengers and 800 crew at speeds of up to 24 knots.

Her sumptuous interiors were designed by architect Harold Peto, and featured marble, tapestries and 28 different types of wood.

The first class dining salon was topped by a large dome skylight, and she had a series of lifts - a new and exciting addition to the seas in 1906.

The ship made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York in 1907, and two years later secured the Blue Riband.

During World War I she was used as a troopship, and painted in 'dazzle' camouflage, later serving a stint as a hospital ship then, once the US entered the war, as transport for thousands of American troops.

She returned to 'civvy street' in 1919, and served as an ocean line and later a cruise ship, until being retired in 1934.

A year later she was scrapped, despite protests from former passengers and supporters including, among others, US President Franklyn D Roosevelt.

'Ship beautiful' Aquitania's varied career KNOWN as the 'ship beautiful', the Clyde-built RMS Aquitania was launched just before World War I. The third of Cunard's express liners, she long held the record for the longest service career for a ship of her type.

Christened by the Countess of Derby in April 1913, the 900ft long ship could carry 3,230 passengers and almost 1,000 crew.

And in the wake of the Titanic tragedy the year before, she was also one of the first liners to carry enough lifeboats for everyone on board.

The Aquitania made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on May 30 1914. Captain William Turner, who 11 months later would be on the bridge of the Lusitania when she was sunk, was in charge on the voyage.

Passengers could enjoy the interiors designed by the same firm which had created London's Ritz hotel.

But they didn't have long to luxuriate - after only three round trips, hostilities with Germany intervened.

Aquitania became an armed merchant cruiser, troopship and hospital ship in turn. Dressed in dazzle camouflage, she carried troops from Canada, on one trip transporting more than 8,000 men.

She would repeat the task in World War II.

In a career eventually spanning 36 years, the 'ship beautiful' travelled three million miles and carried 1.2 million passengers. She was scrapped in 1950.


The Mauretania leaving Southampton on her final voyage, to Rosyth, where she was broken up in July 1935

The Aquitania on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York in 1914

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 4, 2015
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