Original Queen Mary Fails to Find Buyer

Posted August 31st, 2011

Last week the T.S. (Turbine Steamer) Queen Mary, one of the most remarkable excursion steamers ever constructed and one of the last great River Clyde ships still in existence, failed to find a buyer during an online auction.

The Queen Mary, which has been fading away, out of use at Tilbury Docks in London since 2009, had a guide price of between £150,000 and £200,000. But despite not finding a buyer during the 24 August auction, Richard Lane, of Capital Marine Services on the Isle of Wight, said the company was still hopeful a buyer could be found soon

She was originally constructed in 1933 by William Denny and Brothers Shipyard of Dumbarton, Scotland, as yard number 1262. The Queen Mary was designed strictly as a pleasure steamer with no provision for ferrying cars, and was intended to be the flagship of Williamson-Buchanan Steamers Ltd.

The most notable event that sealed the ships’ place in history occurred in 1935 when the director of Cunard White Star Line, Sir Percy Bates, contacted E.W. MacFarlane of Williamson-Buchanan to request their Queen Mary changes her name.  Cunard wanted to use the same name for their newest liner, number 534, launched the previous fall from John Brown’s Shipyard at Clydebank.

So, on 10 April 1935, upon application to the British Ship Registry, the name of the smaller (and original) steamer was officially changed to Queen Mary II. She retained this name until May 1976 when the Roman numerals were dropped, years after the retirement of the giant Cunard ship when the name was removed from the register.

The first Queen Mary finally regained her original name.

The Queen Mary was originally designed as a two-class ship, but in 1950 all Clyde steamers became one-class. This reduced her complement from 2086 to 1820. During the winter of 1956 – 1957, she over went a major refit at the yards of Barclay, Curle and Company. Some of the biggest changes included replacing her two original funnels with a single, large modern one, and instead of burning coal she was given an oil burning Yarrow water-tube boiler. After this she went on to sail for two more decades before being withdrawn from service on 12 September 1977.

Over the following decade the Queen Mary struggled to find a stationary role after plans to develop her as a maritime museum at Glasgow fell apart. Finally, in 1987, she was refurbished for her new role as a restaurant and pub in London. This is where she was stationed until 2009, when she was sold to a private individual, Mr Samuel Boudon, who planned to use her as a floating hotel in France. Nothing has since been developed with these plans, so Capitol Marine Auctions was asked to sell her in an online auction.

Despite not selling last week, it is still hoped that she will be purchased by someone wanting to preserve her for future generations, as she has had a hugely important, if largely unrecognised, place in world marine engineering history.

Source: Maritime Matters

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