Cunard Archive – New Deposit

This month Special Collections and Archives were pleased to receive a substantial donation to the Cunard Archive from the founder of the Cunard Steamship Society, John Langley.

As a life-long Cunard collector and historian this opportunity is an assurance that much of my life’s work will be preserved for future generations.

John Langley Q.C.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the birthplace of Samuel Cunard, Langley’s passion for maritime history began at a young age. As a boy he was influenced greatly by a family friend, Doug Gordon, who was a prominent Passenger Manager for the Cunard Line in Canada.

After a successful career in Law, Langley has donated much of his time to research and writing on the subject of Cunard history. He is the author of Steam Lion, the definitive biography of Sir Samuel Cunard, and lectures extensively aboard Cunard liners and other cruise ships.

Langley travelled with his collection from Halifax on the Queen Mary 2 and spent a number of days at the University of Liverpool going through the 21 boxes of material.

John Langley’s collection reflects his life-long interest in the the rich history and proud tradition of the Cunard Steamship Company. It largely comprises ephemera dating from the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, with items such as menu cards, cruise leaflets and newspaper cuttings.

The material will be catalogued within the ‘Related Collections’ series and be made available to the public.

More information about the Cunard Archive and how to access it can be found on the University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives website:https://libguides.liverpool.ac.uk/library/sca/cunardarchive

Summer memories: postcards and photographs

In honor of the new SC&A summer exhibition ‘Travels in Europe’, we are showcasing some of the wonderful photographs and postcards in the collections which related to summer holidays and travel, whether that be within the UK or abroad.

We do all enjoy taking photographs during our trips to remember them by, even 119 years ago. Below are some shots from the photograph album owned by Mildred Stimson, the daughter of Frederic Jesup Stimson, the American writer, lawyer, and friend of William Gair Rathbone and his family. It includes many shots towns and natural beauty spots from across England and Scotland.

RPXXV.7.666 – Shakespeare’s House
RP XXV.7.666 – The Thames at Oxford
RP XXV.7.666 – ‘Two lazy dogs and a grinning imp’, being Frederic J. Stimson, William Gair Rathbone and Lorna Stimson (Mildred’s sister).

Students have always made good use of the freedom that summer provides! From the papers of Professor Wilberforce, below is a group photograph of members of the University Physics Society sitting on the grass by the River Dee by rowing boats, dated either June 1925 or 1926.

D349/3 – Front row from left to right (first five persons): J. Castle, Elizabeth Taylor, Professor Wilberforce, N. C. Porter, and Connie Richards. At the end of the third row on the right is Mr. Welch, Chief Laboratory Steward.

Collecting postcards (or, Deltiology) is another popular way of gathering memories of a holiday. Within the papers of Professor Charles Reilly (School of Architecture), there is a large volume containing the all the postcards he collected during his travels in the UK and abroad between 1927 – 1930.

D207/45  – Christchurch Priory, visited Summer 1929
D207/45 – Brussels, visited Summer 1927

The Cunard Archive held here at Special Collections and Archives is an excellent place to find ephemera from travel and holidays been and gone. However, it is important to also remember the staff who worked hard so that others could travel to their destinations. The below postcards are from the papers of Mr John Teather Piper (1874-1915), Chief Officer of the Lusitania on the ship’s final voyage. The collection contains prints and postcards, some of which detail the dates of service Mr Piper undertook on each vessel.

D1126/1 – R.M.S Ultonia
D1126/4 – R.M.S Campania

The below postcard features within the ‘Travels in Europe’ exhibition. It is a postcard featuring comic views of the Swiss Alps, dated Thursday 27th August 1898, from Josephine Butler (1828 -1906) to her grandchildren.

JB 1/1/1898/08/27/2(II) – ‘Sweet Hetha [Lady Hetha Butler]. Here are some funny men & a funny lady for you. Grannie’.

‘Travels in Europe’ is available to view in the Special Collections and Archives exhibition area, Ground Floor Grove Wing, Sydney Jones Library (Monday to Friday, 9:30am until 4:45pm). The exhibition runs until September 2019.

The Cunard Archive. Cunard & the city of Liverpool

As we look forward to the Queen Mary 2 arriving in Liverpool on Tuesday 16 July, we have chosen some items from the Cunard Archive that represent Cunard’s historic connection to the city of Liverpool.

Britannia. Exterior illustration. D42/PR2/1/36a/C1

Cunard’s first ever ship, the 1,156-ton Britannia left Liverpool on 4th July 1840 and arrived on schedule in Halifax just ten days later. Within a year Britannia and her three sister ships were providing the first timetabled weekly steamship service across the Atlantic.

The Mauretania II was the first ship to be built for the newly formed Cunard White Star Line and was laid down on 24 May 1937. Built on the Mersey in Birkenhead by Cammel, Laird & Co. Ltd, it was the largest ship ever to be constructed in an English shipyard at the time.

This booklet commemorates the launch of the Mauretania II at the yard of Cammell Laird & Co Limited, Birkenhead on Thursday 28th July 1938. The naming ceremony was performed by Lady Bates and was watched by spectacular crowds.

Cunard’s headquarters was based in Liverpool from its inception in 1839 until 1967 when it relocated to Southampton. As the company grew so did its administrative requirements meaning its original offices in Water Street were no longer suitable.  Completed in 1917 the Cunard Building on Liverpool’s historic waterfront became known as one of the Three Graces. 

This commemorative publication provides an overview of the design and construction of the building and is supplemented with illustrations.

More information about the Cunard Archive and how to access it can be found on the University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives website: https://libguides.liverpool.ac.uk/library/sca/cunardarchive

New Accession: Cunard Associated Deposits

Cunard printed W. H. Rhodes Canada Educational Trusts tour booklet . D1212/3

D1212 – W. H. Rhodes Educational Trust Canada Tour, 1961

We are pleased to share the news of an interesting new accession of material relating to the W. H. Rhodes Educational Trusts Canada Tour of 1961, now available to consult on request at Special Collections and Archives.

Donated by David Phillips, a member of the 1961 Canada tour group, the collection includes printed information about the W. H. Rhodes 1961 tour, such as booklets and itineraries; material collected during the trip, such as Cunard ephemera and leaflets from places visited; and photographs and news cuttings that document the trip.

D1212/4
The 1961 Tour group. D1212/4 (p.2)

It has been fascinating to learn about the history of the W. H. Rhodes Canada Educational Trusts

The first Canada tour took place in 1937, as a result of the vision and generosity of Mr. W. H. Rhodes, C.B.E., Such was the success of this pilot tour that, the following year, Mr. Rhodes founded the W. H. Rhodes Canada Educational Trusts, under the terms of which students were selected to visit Canada in 1938, 1939 and every year from 1951 to 1963.

The boys were drawn from secondary schools of the cities in which Mr. Rhodes had business interests.  The 1961 tour included 16 students from London and 8 students each from Birmingham, Bradford, Glasgow, and Manchester. The boys, aged on average 18.5 years and at the end of their last year of sixth form, were selected for their academic achievement and good character.

The Foreword to the Report on the 1961 Tour to Canada (archive reference: D1212/4) discusses the great opportunity afforded to those boys chosen:

To be transported at this juncture, from the industrial cities of Great Britain to the heartland of Canada, is a timely and broadening experience; to share in this venture with highly selected companions, in the most formative years of life, is a unique opportunity; to go as “representatives of one country of the Commonwealth visiting another” is an honour […] With the months of careful preparation behind them, they set forth determined to play their full part in helping to realise the high ideals and purpose of our generous founder, “in strengthening those ties of kinship, mutual trust and affection enduring among the countries of the British Commonwealth”.

The tour groups travelled to and from Canada on Cunard ships, accompanied by a representative from the Cunard Company. 

The 1961 tour sailed from Liverpool on R.M.S. Carinthia on 2 August and travelled back to the United Kingdom on the R.M.S. Saxonia, arriving at Southampton on 1 September.

For the outward journey on the Carinthia Cunard printed special W. H. Rhodes luggage tags and created travel booklets that included interesting information about life on board the ship, such as instructions on how to distinguish the rank of an officer on board, and guides to places they were visiting in Canada.

The 1961 tour group visited Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara, Sudbury, Temagami and Camp Wanapetei. They had tours of Universities, Civic Buildings, Farms, Businesses and Factories (such as the International Nickel Company and the Queenston Hydro-Electric Project), and were welcomed by City Mayors, Businessmen, Academics and Politicians (including the Prime Minister John Diefenbaker).

The new accession has been added to Cunard Associated Deposits, a collection of items deposited by individuals with personal connections to the shipping company. The full catalogue for the W. H. Rhodes Educational Trusts Canada Tour material is available online.


Other W. H. Rhodes Canada Educational Trusts material can be found in the archive at:

  • D371/4/6/3-4: W. H. Rhodes Canada Educational Trusts tour to Canada, 1963 – booklet and report. (2 items)
  • D42/PR4/14/8/5: W. H. Rhodes Canada Educational Trusts tour to Canada,1952 – booklet. (1 item)

Art in Menu Cards

Cunard Archive

The sweets of a delightful meal may become as the waters of Marah by a menu card that offends the eye


Queen Elizabeth, Luncheon Menu 15 Feb 1958.
Image shows King Charles’s Tower, Chester.

Menu cards within the Cunard Archive are enjoyed by archive users not only for the information within them, but also for their attractive cover designs.

An article published in Cunard News in 1922 describes how art printed on a menu card is carefully chosen to enhance the dining experience of guests.

Cunard News, 1922

Menu cards were popular mementos, kept by passengers to remind them of their experience on board a Cunard ship.

There are many menu cards within the Cunard Archive, and more are deposited regularly by members of the public.

An overview of the Cunard Archive is available here

Memories of a Cunard Assistant Purser

Cunard Additional Deposits

“We had travelled 30,913 miles, circumnavigated the globe, visited 13 countries and 18 ports…” 

D1183/1/2

Alongside the Cunard Archive we hold a range of complementary material donated by individuals, many of whom have links to the company. 

It is often these materials that best reflect the day to day activities of travelling by Cunard and of the experiences of the people involved. 

One of the most recent additions to the Associated Deposits series is a donation from ex-Cunard Assistant Purser Robin Almond.

On 1st January 1957 the 17 year old Robin Almond from Ainsdale in Lancashire joined the Merchant Navy. Robin started as a Cadet Purser with Elder Dempster Line before, 11 months later, taking up a shore based position as a First Class Reservations Clerk with Union Castle Line.

In April 1959 he secured a position as an Assistant Purser with Cunard Line, and in the next three and a half years sailed on the Mauretania, Queen Mary, Caronia, and Queen Elizabeth.

Robin Almond. Caronia North Cape Cruise. 1960. D1183/4

As a young man sailing the globe on world famous cruise liners, Robin has many a tale to tell.

He has been kind enough to share his story with us. Donating extracts from his diaries as well as memorabilia and photographs collected over his years with Cunard to the archive.

Cunard cruise brochures, Junior Assistant Purser’s epaulettes, Cunard buttons and Cunard cap badge. D1183/5-6

 The full catalogue can be viewed online by searching for the reference number D1183.

This week’s war: Armistice

Statue commemoriating Captain Noel Chavasse and 15 other Liverpool-born recipients of the Victoria Cross, located in Abercromby Square

This Sunday marks both Remembrance Sunday and the centenary of Armistice Day, 100 years since the hostilities of the First World War were brought to an end.

Since August 4th 2014, 100 years since Britain declared war on Germany, we have been posting This week’s war, a series of excerpts from the collections detailing the war as it was, this week 100 years ago. To mark the Armistice centenary and to bring this series to an end, we will be reflecting on the end of war and where some of those mentioned over the last four years were in November 1918 and beyond.

In the 1918 diary of John Bruce Glasier [GP/2/1/25], who was a pioneer of the British Socialist movement and had been opposed to the war from the beginning, he expresses joy at the announcement of the Armistice. It appears that he may have written his entry for November 11th prior to hearing the news, and has added parts along the top and side of the page saying, ‘Great News, Peace Revolution’, and ‘Announced at noon today – Armistice signed. Peace!’.

A page from Glasier’s 1918 diary – GP/2/1/25

That afternoon Glasier found his plans to travel to London disrupted; he was unable to make his way to Manchester Station due to the streets being blocked with people gathering to celebrate the end of the war:

Girls and soldiers dancing, and boys and girls gawfawing and singing silly ditties. … All good humoured however.

[GP/2/1/25]

As those at home began to celebrate and reflect on the end of the war, the cessation of hostilities meant that the long task of repatriating soldiers to their home countries could begin. Repatriating some of the millions of soldiers abroad in Europe began soon after the Armistice, and Cunard vessels were some of those transporting Allied troops before ‘the guns were hardly cool after roaring out their last bombardment of the war’ [D42/PR3/8/4 ‘To the American Legion Cunard’]. The December 1918 edition of Cunard Magazine (D42/PR5/22), produced for staff, reminds readers that their drive for socks for servicemen abroad continues:

We can now look forward to the day when further contributions will no longer be needed, but in the meantime, ladies, the boys still remain at the front – so please carry on.

[D42/PR5/22]

It would take months for many to be returned home. J. H. Forshaw, an Architecture graduate of the University of Liverpool after the war, was in the Royal Engineers during the war and for a number of months following the war. War diaries from his papers [D113] describe the bridging and inspection work that he was carrying out with the Royal Engineers in France and Belgium until his dispersal on the 11th July 1919. On Armistice Day, he made a note of the announcement before carrying on with inspections work in the following days.

War Diary from the papers of J. H. Forshaw – D113/1/2

According to Forshaw’s dispersal certificate, he would leave his Unit on the 11th of July 1919 to return to Ormskirk.

Forshaw’s Dispersal Certificate – D113/1/3

Of course, not all soldiers returned home from fighting, and Remembrance Day is dedicated to those who have served and those who were lost during the First World War and other conflicts. The end of the war appears to have been a time of complicated emotions for many; relief that it had ended but sorrow and grief for those who had been lost.

The January 1919 edition of Cunard Magazine [D42/PR5/23] includes a report of celebrations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the announcement of Armistice, but also this reflection of feeling at the end of the war:

The end has come so suddenly that it is hard to realise, all at once, that the unspeakable horror is indeed over. … And now for the first time in four years, brave men are not being killed and maimed by thousands. It gives one a feeling of solemn gladness, that is akin to sorrow.

[D42/PR5/23]

For many, the upcoming festive season would have been coloured with sorrow for those they had lost in the four years since the beginning of the war. This passage from the introduction to the December 1918 Cunard Magazine (D42/PR5/22) is perhaps, then, a fitting way to conclude This week’s war:

For the past four years it has unfortunately been impossible to indulge in our customary felicitations, but with the success of the Allied Arms we are now happily able to revert to our former practice. … It would be idle to attempt to overlook that to many a home the absence of dear ones who have made the supreme sacrifice will cause many a pang of sorrow and regret, but we trust that the kindly hand of time will help to soften the feeling of loss, while keeping ever sweet and fragrant the memory of those who have fallen.

[D42/PR5/22]

The University of Liverpool First World War Memorial, in the entrance hall of the Victoria Museum and Gallery

This Week’s War: 221

Aside

Now “Top Dog”

Pte. L. Rathgen (K.L.R.), Linen Department, in a letter acknowledging his usual parcel says “I, like many more Cunarders am looking forward to the peace which seems so near, and although more heavy fighting is bound to be our lot, I am quite light-hearted as we can now see our aims are about to be realised. During the past few weeks I had many experiences which I cannot write about, but I can say that one had the feeling that you were ‘top dog,’ and the change was appreciated after the somewhat uncertain times recently passed through.”

Extract from Cunard magazine October 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

This Week’s War: 217

Aside

Not as Bad as It Might Be

Sergt. H. C. Hiles (Bristol Office), R.F.A. who is serving in the Italian Expeditionary Force writes: “I am spending a cool summer on the mountain tops. It is not such a bad old war as it might be.”

Extract from Cunard magazine September 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

Cunard archive: Engineering staff records

At SCA we often receive enquiries from individuals who are researching their family history or are trying to trace an individual who worked for Cunard.

In this post we highlight some of the types of records found within the Cunard archive that relate to the engineering staff who worked for the company, and how researchers can discover this information.

Engineering staff taken at a luncheon on board Mauretania II prior to her breaking up – all of the individuals are named (18 Nov 1965)

As is often the case with business archives, the surviving records are not comprehensive and this is particularly the case for staff records. However, the role of engineer is perhaps the most likely to produce results for a researcher when compared to other roles such as steward or those working in the catering department. This is largely due to ‘D42/EN Engineers Department: Personnel records’ – a unique series of records within the Cunard archive  whose catalogue is available in printed format in our reading room.

These records appear to represent an almost full record of engineering officer staff from 1870, and as such are the most comprehensive staff records of any department within the company. This series of records also includes appointment books of White Star Line engineers prior to the creation of Cunard White Star in 1934. They generally contain information concerning appointments made to particular ships, length of sea service, rate of pay and rank information as well as often noting resignations, retirements and deaths.

Due to the personal nature of these records, some are subject to closure periods and their frequent use as a business record before being transferred to SCA also means that many of these volumes are fragile. Advance appointments to view these records help researchers get the most from their visit and ensures the long-term preservation of the records.

 

‘Cunard Careers at Sea’ (D42/PR4/46/56)

The personnel records of the engineering department can be complimented by ‘Captains Reports on Officers’ 1910-1922 (ref. D42/GM14/1-3) which were compiled by the General Manager’s Office. Other individual records which help provide biographical information of engineering officers can be found in the form of news clippings, press releases and notes (ref. D42/PR4/43/1).

Further potential sources of information can be found within passenger lists which in some cases record the names of senior staff, including that of the Chief Engineer. The photograph collection within the Public Relations series also contains a few examples of named individuals, with engineering staff appearing in both individual portraits and group photographs.

D42/PL12/1/3/14

All of the catalogues for the Cunard archive are available in printed format in our reading room. Further information about the archive and links to the catalogues that are searchable online can be found on our webpage, along with an information sheet about tracing crew.