2018 has seen some significant landmarks in the history of two of Cunard Line’s most famous vessels – the RMS Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth II (QE2).
It is hard to believe that it is now ten years since the final voyage of the QE2, a liner which served as flagship of the Cunard fleet until 2004 and which is fondly remembered in Scotland as being one of the last great glories of the shipbuilding industry on the River Clyde – delivered in the late 1960s before the precipitous decline of most of the famous shipyards which had once dominated the world shipbuilding industry.
The QE2 is now based in Dubai and after years of uncertainty, 2018 saw its formal opening as a hotel and leisure attraction. In this role it has followed the path of the equally famous RMS Queen Mary which this year notched up 50 years in its ‘retirement home’ at Long Beach, California.
The Queen Mary also hailed from the Clyde, constructed in John Brown’s historic shipyard in Clydebank and brought into service in 1936. Unfortunately, recent years have seen some grim news emerge of the extent of the repair work required on this famous ship, and I saw one recent article which cast doubt on its long term future given its current state.
I suppose it is good to see these famous liners having a decent ‘after-life’ after their active service ends, and it is some achievement for the Queen Mary to continue to be an attraction 50 years on from its last voyage, particularly when one thinks of the rapid decline of the RMS Queen Elizabeth, destroyed by fire in Hong Kong back in 1972 within five years of its last voyage. It had followed the Queen Mary off the production line at John Brown’s.