On this day in history : 20th September 1906 – The launch of the Cunard Line’s RMS Maurentania – at the time she was the largest and fastest ship in the world…

Official launch party – Image credit : Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Maurentania was built by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson and was sister ship to the Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U Boat in 1915…. The two ships held between them the Blue Riband (Atlantic speed record) for over twenty years…. Less than a century before it had taken a month to cross the Atlantic, Maurentania could do it in five days….

Weighing over 30,000 tons and with a crew of 812 Maurentania could carry 560 first class passengers in luxurious accommodation amidships on five decks…. She could also carry 475 second class and 1,300 in third class….

RMS Maurentania after her launch – Image credit : Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

The grand interior of the ship was fitted out in French and Italian Renaissance styles, with a magnificent 15th century Italian staircase…. The two dining saloons were in the style of Francis I and the 80ft lounge Louis XVI style…. The smoking room was Italian Renaissance with a spectacular marble chimney surrounded by carved wood…. There was even a children’s room with a giant rocking horse…. The first class cabins were decorated and furnished to give maximum comfort…. It really was a floating palace…. Even the second and third class accommodation was a vast marked-improvement on what had been before….

RMS Maurentania Image credit : Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

However, Maurentania’s reign was relatively short-lived…. In 1929 her speed record was lost to the new German liner Bremen…. In 1935 she was scrapped at Rosyth….

Maurentania 17 September 1907 – Image credit : Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

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