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Active Service Letter Bag

Pte. J. H. Cliffe (Accountants), Labour Company, assures us that “everything out here is going on nicely in spite of old Fritz. For some little time we have been in a backward area, and have had an opportunity to see a little bit more of the Belgian civilians and their ways. Their method of churning milk, the contrivance being worked by a dog is very interesting. It is something after the style of a treadmill, the dog working inside the wheel.”

Extract from Cunard magazine, July1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

Cunard ‘Old’ and ‘New’

On Monday 23rd July visitors to Liverpool’s waterfront will have the opportunity to see Cunard’s youngest ship, Queen Elizabeth as she makes her seventh visit to the city. This particular visit will celebrate an historic date for the company, that of the 80th anniversary of the launch of the Mauretania II, one of Cunard’s most famous ships. The occasion is being marked with a “sail away show” that will take place at Princes Dock at 16.30.

Constructed at Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead, the Mauretania II was the largest ship ever to be constructed in an English shipyard at the time. Huge crowds of tens of thousands of people came to see the launch which was carried out on 28th July 1938 by Lady Bates, wife of the Cunard chairman Percy Bates.

Mauretania II launch at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead (D42/PR1/14/147)

The Mauretania II made its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 17th June 1939 but was soon hired by the government for use in the war effort. During the early stages of the war the ship transported Australian troops to Suez, India and Singapore but later it mainly served in the north Atlantic. After the war the Mauretania II served on the Southampton to New York route but it was also used as a cruise ship to destinations such as the West Indies.

1953 brochure advertising cruises on the Mauretania II (D42/PR4/17/1/7/1)

The Cunard Archive contains many records relating to the history of Mauretania II which can be found within the Accounts Department, Chairman’s Papers, General Manager’s Office and Public Relations files. There are also records within the Cunard Associated Deposits, a collection of records donated by members of the public. Further information about the Cunard Archive can be found on our website.

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Two Years in India

Pte. E. J. Nelis (Costing Department) Manchester Regiment, writes to inform us that he has now completed two years service in India. He much appreciates the parcels which he receives from time to time from the Comrades’ Fund.

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

New Exhibition: Puzzles, Poetry and Playground Games

This week sees the launch of a new SC&A exhibition highlighting some of the more unusual items from our collections: those relating to games and pastimes, for children and adults, from the 18th-20th centuries.

D958: Queen Mary jigsaw puzzle [1936]

Included in the display are a huge range of games – some designed purely for fun, others intended to be more educative and improving, particularly for young, developing minds. We have, for example, jigsaw puzzles (depicting Cunard ships such as the Queen Mary, as above); activities which encouraged participants to try their hand at poetry; as well as illustrated guides to various playground and parlour games, many of which have now been forgotten (“Hunt the Slipper”, anyone?).

Noble D6.26: Kate Greenaway’s Book of Games (1889)

Also included are photographs from our Cunard collection which show passengers enjoying a variety of onboard activities, including bottle pushing, shuffleboard, “chalking the pig’s eye”, tug of war, and potato racing, from the 1920s-1960s.

The exhibition will run until September and is situated on the Ground Floor Grove Wing SC&A exhibition area.

‘New’ online catalogue – Cunard Chairman’s Correspondence (2)

We are pleased to announce that the catalogue for the papers of Sir Percy Bates who became deputy Chairman of the Cunard Steamship Co. in 1922 and was Chairman from 1930 until his death in 1946 is now available online. Sir Percy Bates was instrumental in the development of two of Cunard’s most prestigious vessels, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and oversaw historic periods in the company’s history, including the formation of Cunard White Star Line and the Second World War.

Sir Percy Bates on his way to Chicago 1938 (D42/C3/1/2/63)

The majority of papers in the D42/C3 series descend from Sir Percy Bates’ private files, which he himself created and therefore reflects his daily working life. Files have been numbered and arranged in an order designed by Bates himself, presumably to meet his working needs, and tend to be grouped by topic and theme or individual and organisation. Indexes are available for Sir Percy’s business and personal files. Totalling 85 boxes, these papers are considerably more extensive than those for either the Booth or Royden Chairmanship.

Over the next few months, catalogues for the papers of other members of the Bates family from the time of their Chairmanship will go online. These include Frederick Bates who succeeded Percy as Chairman of Cunard, holding that post during the years 1946-1953 and Denis Bates who was the final member of the Bates family to be Chairman of Cunard from 1953-1959.

Researchers are also able to access the catalogue for The Bates Family Papers (D641) which are part of the Cunard Associated Deposits. This collection complements the Chairman’s Papers of the Cunard archive and provides real insight into both the personal and professional lives of members of the Bates family.

Items from Dennis Bates’ war service (D641/3)

These family papers were used by Philip E. Bates to research his book The Bates of Bellefield, Gryn Castle and Manydown and by Percy Bates in writing his book Some Transactions of a Halifax Family. They comprise personal and work-related correspondence, letter books, legal documents, diaries, photographs and medals, news clippings, shipping memorabilia, a pencil drawing and other related papers. Some of the highlights include letters sent by Dennis Bates whilst on active service during the First World War, business papers of Edward Bates & Sons and a pencil sketch of a soldier by John Lockwood Kipling.

Pencil Sketch of a soldier by John Lockwood Kipling, given to Percy Bates by Rudyard Kipling (D641/2/4/1)

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Wedding Bells

‘Sergt. H. C. Hiles, M. M., R. F. A. (Bristol Office), visited Liverpool during a fortnight’s leave from the Italian Front. We learnt that he had been fortunate in love and war, having just taken unto himself a life partner. We also noted he was wearing the ribbon of the Military Medal. He has our sincere wishes for life long happiness.’

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

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‘We are awaiting the Boche onslaught: the latest date is March 25th. Meanwhile both sides practice raids and so far we have had much the best of the exchanges as our men are ready and able for the fight while the Boche is the very opposite.’

Letter sent to Percy Bates from a friend at the General Headquarters of the British Armies in France, dated 18th March 1918 [D641/2/1/6].

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Wounded Soldiers’ Concerts

‘The second concert was held on February 9, Alderman M. H. Maxwell, J. P., presiding. The proceedings were an unqualified success. The star turn was Miss Ella Shields, whose songs were greatly appreciated by the wounded soldiers.’

Extract from Cunard staff magazine, February 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

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November 1917

FROM NEW YORK
1 C/s Hospital goods consisting of 
2 Doz. Hot Water Bags                         6 Doz to Seaforth Military
13 ” Tooth Brushes                               Hospital
6 ” Calox                                               Comrades Assn.
12 ” Face Cloths                                    ” ”
4 ” Hair Combs

Items donated by the wives of active servicemen aboard Cunard ships to be distributed to the indicated areas. From the Cunard Archive [Cunard Women’s War Service Association Report for 1917, D42/C1/1/22/2].

New Accession: Cunard Associated Deposits

Earlier this month SC&A received a donation of material commemorating the Queen Mary and her launch in 1934 and memorabilia from a Sylvania Mediterranean cruise in 1965. These items were donated by Kit Syder in memory of her Grandparents, Tom and Hilda Roby who collected the items through their connection with the John Roby Ltd Company (later Roby & Utley) and as passengers on a Cunard cruise. This accession is particularly timely as today marks 50 years since the Queen Mary made her final voyage from Southampton to her new home in Long Beach, California.

D1169/1/1 – The Journal of Commerce and Shipping, Telegraph (1 Oct 1934)

It is perhaps difficult today to appreciate how significant the Queen Mary was when she entered service, for not only was she the largest and fastest ship the world had ever known but she was also the most expensive. Items within this new accession help to demonstrate the impact the Queen Mary had on the country and her wide-ranging appeal.

They include a supplement from The Journal of Commerce and Shipping, (as the first ship to be launched by the newly formed Cunard White Star Line Ltd. the Queen Mary dominated news headlines); a scale model by Bassett-Lowke Ltd, complete with printed instructions and a fold-out scale drawing; a hand-held Queen Mary puzzle from the ‘R. J. Series of Popular Puzzles’ and collectable confectionery and cigarette cards that used illustrations to demonstrate the scale and features of the Queen Mary to the public and potential passengers.

D1169/1/2 – The Queen Mary puzzle

The new accession also includes items relating to Thomas Utley (Rainhill) Ltd (a brass foundry which made fittings for the shipping industry) in the form of a promotional booklet and catalogue, staff photograph and news clipping. The promotional booklet as shown was produced by Thomas Utley (Rainhill) Ltd. Rainhill Liverpool to highlight a selection of the sidelights and windows supplied to the Queen Mary.These items will be of particular interest to those who are researching suppliers to the Queen Mary and will complement Sir Percy Bates’ correspondence that can be found within the Cunard Archive’s ‘Chairmen’s Papers’.

D1169/2/2

 

Pictured below is just one of the menu cards collected by Tom and Hilda Roby on their Mediterranean cruise on the Sylvania in 1965. Further items from this cruise include copies of the Cunard Ocean Bulletin and even Cunard-themed cocktail stirrers, matches and a bar of soap!

D1169/3/1 – Dinner menu card from a Sylvania Mediterranean Cruise (15 Feb 1965)

The full catalogue for this new accession (D1169) will be available online via the Cunard webpage.