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This section of the website contains memories of MAURETANIA and details some of the surviving artefacts in the North East. During research carried out prior to mounting the Centenary Exhibition at the Discovery Museum in 2006 it became apparent that there were a considerable number of items related to MAURETANIA still treasured by local families. They have been kept mainly as a direct link to their ancestors many of whom worked on the vessel. It is amazing how much of the sense of pride in building the ship has been passed down with these heirlooms. The selection illustrated here is not intended to be a definitive list but as a snapshot it shows how, even 100 years after the launch, MAURETANIA continues to be a part of life in the area.
Mr E.A. of Northumberland has generously gifted to Tyne & Wear Archives Service some ¼ plate glass negatives from the beginning of the twentieth century. The images were taken by his maternal grandfather, James William Coleby, who worked for the Wallsend Slipway and was a keen amateur photographer. He was involved in the MAURETANIA order, being responsible for the design of the steam raising plant, and in later years became the Chief Estimator at the Slipway.
MAURETANIA leaving the river to go on her preliminary trials. (TWAS ref: DX 1250/1)
Above we see MAURETANIA leaving the river to
go on her preliminary trials.
This evocative photograph, taken from the  Long Sands at Tynemouth, shows the vessel  on her final journey in 1935. (TWAS ref: DX 1250/2
  This evocative photograph, taken from the
Long Sands at Tynemouth, shows the vessel
on her final journey in 1935
 
Mrs F.E.F of Newton Aycliffe writes:
"I come from a ship oriented family, my grandparents were chandlers on Tyneside in the late Victorian era. My father served his time on sailing ships and got his advanced education at South Shields Marine School and getting his Masters Certificate. He and my mother, when engaged, watched the launch of the MAURETANIA. They emigrated to Canada (Her father was appointed Port Manager at Prince Rupert, BC by the Canadian Pacific Railway) and at the age of three in 1924 my mother brought me to England to meet her family and we sailed on the MAURETANIA. I remember only one thing and that is the cabin that we shared as my mother was very seasick and I was confined with her. I remember the stewardesses bustling in and out and I remember the berths had curtains as we were in 2nd class.

On the death of my father my mother and I came to England in 1938 on the ss “Montrose”. Several years later after my marriage to my husband who came from Amble he told me that his father had taken him down to the harbour to see MAURETANIA on her final voyage and as she passed Amble she slowed down and sent a message to the harbourmaster Farewell to the last port in England." (What a fantastic memory as the different members of the family were there at the birth, life and finally death of the MAURETANIA)
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Mr & Mrs A of Monkseaton have two cabinets in their possession purportedly from the MAURETANIA. Five cabinets were bought at auction in the 1970s for a few shillings and the two illustrated survive. Unfortunately the backs have been replaced with modern hardboard so the all important numbers on the backs have been lost. One of the doors has also been fitted upside down and the two cabinets have been joined together. Even in this distressed condition the quality of the carving is evident.

Mr & Mrs A also have three teak benches formerly used outside a local public house. These were made by Hughes Bolckow & Co Ltd of Blyth who specialised in buying hardwoods from other shipbreakers to manufacture a range of furniture.

After 1935 they made a range of garden furniture called MAURETANIA from teak taken from the ship and marked with the name. This has led many people to believe they have items from the MAURETANIA when in fact they have an item made from timber used on the vessel.

All Hughes Bolckow furniture of this type carried a plate and the following image shows the metal label as fitted to the three teak benches mentioned above.

Mauretania cabinet
Even in this distressed condition the quality of  the carving is evident
Mauretania cabinet handle
 
image showing the metal label as fitted to the three teak benche garden furniture called “Mauretania” from teak taken from the ship and marked with the name. These were made by Hughes Bolckow & Co Ltd of Blyth Even in this distressed condition  the quality of the carving is evident.
 
   
Mrs M. of Newcastle remembers :
My grandfather, John Alexander Crombie, was the last man to work at Swan Hunters who had worked on the MAURETANIA. He joined the company in 1901 as an apprentice shipwright and finally retired in 1959 after 58 years service with them.
 
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Mrs A.E. of Tynemouth has a small engraved jug that her mother bought at a flea market in the 1950's. There is an image of MAURETANIA on one side with the launch date engraved on the reverse.

A small engraved jug with an image  of MAURETANIA on one side and with the  launch date engraved on the reverse.
 
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Mr T.S. of Northumberland remembers:
My father was a cabinet maker at Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, who worked on the MAURETANIA. At the time he lived in Gateshead. He was aboard the ship, finishing her fitting out when she sailed from the Tyne on her delivery voyage to Liverpool on 22nd October 1907. Fitting out continued during her long run official trials in the Irish Sea and he remained on board during that time. By 1935 the family were living on a smallholding in North Northumberland and father and son were fitting a new roof on their bungalow when the MAURETANIA passed on her way to Rosyth.
 
 
Mr D.L. of Tynemouth has a deck seat which family stories maintain came from the MAURETANIA. As shown in the images the seat has stood in its present setting for at least 70 years and is extremely weathered. The fact that it has survived at all is probably due to the fact that it is made from teak. The rings shown in the images were used to fasten the seat to the deck. Deck seat which came from the MAURETANIA.
The rings shown in the images were  used to fasten the seat to the deck.
 
 
Mr T.W. of Sunderland remembers:

My three great uncles worked at Swans on the MAURETANIA as labourers. They were all big men and extremely strong. The story goes that if ever there was a heavy load to move they would send for The White Gang - my great uncles.
 
 
Mr P.C. of Newcastle owns a souvenir brochure from The Cunard Steamship Company. This was published at the time of the launch and used many of the images shown in the Gallery section of this website. A souvenir brochure from The  Cunard Steamship Company.
 
 
Mr H.C of Seaton Delaval writes:
“As the MAURETANIA passed the mouth of the Tyne they brought her in as close as they could to the shore in order that she and the people who built her, could pay their last respects, one to the other. I have a clear memory of standing, surrounded by crowds of people, on St. Mary's Island, and watching her as she moved slowly north. During all this time, or most of it, my father and dozens of other fully grown men around me, wept openly. I had never seen a grown man cry before and I cannot remember seeing my father cry again. That day he was surrounded by dozens of men whose faces were as wet with tears as his.

(Mr H.C. was 8 years old at the time and many thousands of others joined his father in mourning the passing of their ship.)
Mauretania cabinet handle
 
 
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