All posts, Photography, Stuff we find

R.M.S. Queen Mary – a letter to a boy

Detail from Queen Mary menu 1939In the 1970s, a family friend posted various bits ‘n bobs to a boy (one of us) about R.M.S. Queen Mary – the ‘Quadruple-Screw Turbine Steamer’ that sailed the North Atlantic from 1934 to 1967 for the Cunard White Star Line (as it was at the time). The ship is now permanently moored at Long Beach, California.

The lady in question – Ms Puddifoot of London, NW5 – had travelled from Southampton to New York and back in the summer of 1939. What she passed on is a treasure trove of original documents – menus, ship plans, postcards; plus an accompanying letter in black ink, all of which we have to this day.

In her letter she says: ‘Tell your Mum and Dad I expect their mouths will water when they read the menus.‘ She also included a map so that ‘you can trace where your Dad goes when he travels the world.’

The Queen Mary’s capacity was 2,139 passengers: 776 first class, 784 tourist class and 579 third class. Ms Puddifoot was a tourist class passenger and had to make do with Bluefish Belle Meunière and Cold Split Lobster. What a thrill it must have been seeing New York appear in the distance from the deck. The Empire State Building would have been only eight years old, not far from where the ship docked at Pier 90 on the Hudson River.

Here are some of the things she sent to that young boy sitting in his bedroom in London. It was a long way from the sea but he dreamt, one day, of seeing the world, inspired by Ms Puddifoot.

[Click on images for higher res.]

Sailing times: Note Ms Puddifoot’s pen mark against the day she set off from New York – Wednesday 23 August 1939. Had Ms Puddifoot chosen the next timetabled voyage from Southampton, she would have shared the journey with comedian Bob Hope – and an awful lot of gold bullion. That sailing, dated 30 August, was to be the ship’s last peacetime voyage before the outbreak of World War 2 where she was used to carry troops. So the timetable below, for public passengers at least, was unfulfilled.

Cunard White Star sailing times

Cunard White Star sailing times

Detail from menu cover

Detail from Queen Mary menu cover

Sunday 17 August 1939 – Luncheon

Luncheon menu

Queen Mary menu inside

Thursday 24 August 1939

Plan of ship – C Deck

Plan of ship – C deck

C Deck: Dining saloon, staff areas, bank and travel bureau

Plan of ship – promenade deck

Queen Mary ship plan of promenaded deck

Promenade Deck: Smoke Room and deck games

Detail from menu cover

Queen Mary menu cover detail

Thursday 24 August 1939

Luncheon menu

Queen Mary menu

Sunday 27 August 1939

Ms Puddifoot – who knows where, Southampton dock?

On board R.M.S. Queen Mary

R.M.S. Queen Mary on Wikipedia

Related posts:

A piece of the Alhambra in London

A Rae of Spanish sunshine

© con jamón spain

Con jamon spain logo


About con jamón spain

All about Granada, Órgiva, La Alpujarras, Las Alpujarras, Andalucia, Spain – tapas, history, local guides and more.


3 thoughts on “R.M.S. Queen Mary – a letter to a boy

  1. What a lovely post. Those deck plans are exquisite

    Posted by alisonsye | October 2, 2014, 9:36 pm
%d bloggers like this: