Ship models, Passenger vessels

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Mauretania (1906); Passenger vessel; Liner

Ship models

Object connections:

Collection Ship models, Passenger vessels
Gallery locationNot on display
VesselsMauretania 1906
Publication(s)Ship models : their purpose and development from 1650 to the present : illustrated from the ship model collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

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Object details:

Object ID SLR1375
Description Scale: 7:384. One of the best and most popular models in the collection, the ‘Mauretania’ (1906) has been on more-or-less continuous display since it was acquired from the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral in 1966. No expense was spared on it with its gold- and silver-plated fittings, surface-silvered glass representing portholes and windows, and minutely observed details. The impact and appeal of the model is helped by the fact that it depicts one of the greatest ships of the twentieth century and certainly one of the greatest liners of all time – beautiful lines, technologically advanced and famous for holding the coveted Blue Riband trophy for an unprecedented 22 years for the fastest ship on the North Atlantic route. It was commissioned from ship modelmaker Mr Robert Smith, by Cunard, for display in the window of their shipping office in London. Smith’s company was, at the time, a thriving ship modelmaking business and had a reputation as one of the best in the country. Originally it was intended to build the model to the conventional scale of 1:48 (¼ inch to one foot) but this would have produced a model that was 18 inches too long for the display space allotted to it, so the scale was fixed at the slightly smaller 7:384 (7/32 of-an-inch to one foot). Even with such a large team of experts the model took 38 weeks to make and cost £725, a staggering amount in the early 20th century. Much of the model is solid and several thousand parts were specially made including 280 skylights, 1818 windows in deck berths, sixteen lifeboats on their davits, 20 small ladders with their handrails and even around 200 doorknobs. At the 1935 Winchester Shipping Festival service, the model was presented to Winchester Cathedral by Sir Thomas Royden, who had been Chairman of Cunard from 1922-30. It was initially placed in the north transept, which was set aside as a mariners’ chapel, but 1945 it was moved to a quieter part of the Cathedral as it had proved to be rather too much of a ‘draw‘. At 790 feet in length and 31,000 gross registered tons, RMS ‘Mauretania’, built by Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Wallsend-on-Tyne, was the largest liner in the world when she entered service in 1907. In November of that year she also became the fastest by beating the trans-Atlantic crossing time of her sister ship the ‘Lusitania’. Their four Parsons turbines driving four screws gave the ships a cruising speed of 26 knots, though ‘Mauretania’ always had the edge. Although both liners were designed to be employed as armed merchant cruisers in the advent of war, ‘Mauretania’ actually served as a troopship and hospital ship, from 1915-19, carrying 76,000 troops to various theatres of war. At the end of the First World War she returned briefly to her North Atlantic service. She had originally operated out of Liverpool, as we can see from the stern of the model denoting that service, but after the war her port of registry changed to Southampton. She was withdrawn in 1921 for conversion from coal to oil fuel returning the following year. With the ‘Berengaria’ and ‘Aquitania’ she continued to provide the fastest ocean service in the world, only finally losing the Blue Riband to the new German liner ‘Bremen’ in 1929. ‘Mauretania’s’ final voyage to New York was in 1934 and, the following year, an eight day auction of all her equipment, decorative features, furnishings and fittings took place at Southampton. Stripped of everything saleable, ‘Old Maury’ was only then sent to Rosyth, in Scotland, for breaking up.
Date made 1907 circa

Artist/Maker Robert Smith
Swan Hunter
Place made Stockton-on-Tees, England
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials brass; copper; cotton; glass; paint; varnish; wood
Measurements Overall: 1170 x 4435 x 530 mm
  • Mauretania (1906); Passenger vessel; Liner (SLR1375)
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