Launch of star-studded liner Queen Mary

 Ann Fotheringham wrote in the Glasgow Evening Times (26.09.20.) 


CELEBS clamoured to travel on her, but the Queen Mary cruise liner was a star in her own right.

Her launch – 86 years ago this week, at John Brown’s shipyard on the Clyde – made the news all over the country and beyond.

JE Raine, a reader of the Evening Times, captures the magic of the day in a letter he wrote to the newspaper 40 years later.

“I sailed from the Broomielaw to see the launch of the 534,” he wrote.

“As the King Edward took us past the empty shipyards, the stark reality of the unemployment of the Thirties saddened us.

“Once, hundreds of workers acknowledged the cheers of holidaymakers on every passing steamer.

“We anchored nearby, and at last came the moment when the voice of Queen Mary ended the nation’s speculation and her namesake slid down and across the Clyde and into the Cart, trailing her tons of braking chains that uncoiled thunderously.

Even King George V was impressed. He addressed the 250,000 onlookers, describing the liner as “the stateliest ship in being”, and then Queen Mary cut the string, releasing a bottle of Australian wine to smash on the port bow.


When the 35,600-ton ship slid into the water to the strains of Rule Britannia, it created such a large wave that the crowd, already damp from the Glasgow downpours, were soaked.


The Cunard-White Star liner, number 534, became the place all of Hollywood wanted to be photographed, perched on the deck rail, waving to the crowds below.

Pictures from the Southern Daily Echo’s archives reveal everyone from Laurel and Hardy and Elizabeth Taylor to Abbott and Costello and Fred Astaire climbed aboard.

Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn and Winston Churchill also sailed on the Queen Mary.

Since 1967, the Clydebuilt liner has been berthed in Long Beach, California, where it is a floating hotel, attraction and wedding venue.