1907 – 1935, the Mauretania

Mauretania’s Maiden Voyage, from the Tyne and Wear Archives (Wikimedia Commons)

On the launch of the Mauretania in 1907, her initial speed trials were conducted along the north east coast. Lloyds List reported the forthcoming trials:

The new Cunarder Mauretania is now very near completion, and will soon be ready for her speed trials. While the preliminary trials of this vessel will, no doubt, be made from the Tyne, there is a report that her final builders’ trials will be made on the Skelmorlie measured mile on the Clyde, where the water is sheltered and smooth and vastly better for such a purpose than the exposed and boisterous North-East Coast. The Mauretania has had steam up for several weeks now, and has repeatedly had her engines turned round. She has also received her final coating of paint on her upper works, and looks clean and ship-shape. I hear that special pains have been taken in the way of strengthening the vessel’s stern tubes, so as to guard against the possibility of vibration at high speeds.

Lloyd’s List, Tuesday 03 September 1907

The Newcastle Daily Chronicle reported on her nearing departure from Wallsend.




The interest that is being at present manifested in the speed trial across the Atlantic of the Lusitania naturally suggests the state of completion in which the younger sister ship is at present at Wallsend. To Tynesiders it will be interesting to know that the Mauretania will soon be leaving her moorings for the first time, and amid the din of buzzers and syrens, and other forms of marine music, will be taking her baptism in the waters of the North Sea. such an event can only now be the matter of days. The Mauretania has coaled, and as she lies at her berth, smoke is rising from her giant red funnels, a sort of warrantable inference that everything is ready for the good ship to be finally taken in hand.

Newcastle Daily Chronicle, Thursday 12 September 1907

The ship was launched on 17th September 1907. The Newcastle Evening Chronicle reported:


It is expected that the Mauretania will be anchored off Tynemouth this evening, and will commence her preliminary trials on Wednesday. It is not yet known whether she will return to the Tyne on Friday, but it is understood that it is probable she will not re-enter the harbour until a day later than originally arranged. During her trials she will run from Flamborough Head as far as the Aberdeenshire coast, and on her return, on Saturday, she will be met off the pier by the same tugs and towed as far as the Albert Edward Dock, where she will be swung and afterwards taken stern first to Wallend. A large number of workmen went away in the ship, and a variety of work will go on simultaneously with the trial.

Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Tuesday 17 September 1907

Three days later the Mauretania passed St Abbs Lighthouse, using the Admiralty distance poles on the cliff to check her speed. The two pairs of distance poles mark a measured nautical mile. Ships on set bearings could check their speed by timing the journey between the two sets of poles. If you take a trip on the local Rib boat you can see these poles clearly from the sea. The Mauretania reputedly steamed so close to St Abbs Head during these trials that a stone could have been thrown from the cliffs onto the deck. [The Orcadian,17 August 1912].


The mammoth Cunard liner Mauretania resumed her third day’s trial off the Tyne yesterday morning, in delightfully fine weather, and with a dead calm sea. The vessel ran from south to north as far as St Abbs Head, leaving shortly before nine o’clock, and returned to her usual anchorage off Tynemouth last night.

As to the results of the previous day’s trial, there were many inquiries, but no information could be gleaned officially. From what has transpired, however, a fine run was made over the course. A mode of transmitting messages from the ship by pigeon carriers has been arranged, several birds having been flown when off the Farne Islands to bring messages ashore.

Yesterday’s programme bears important results, as the vessel would, it was stated, be run at full speed, taking the-same route to St Abbs Head, where there is a greater depth of water than any other part of the coast, and consequently better results are obtainable. The appearance of the Mauretania on the coast is creating intense interest.

The Scotsman, Friday 20 September 1907

The Berwickshire News reported:

The Mauretania. From Tuesday till Friday the new Cunard liner, Mauretania, has been sighted off this coast undergoing her trips. The keenest interest in her movements has been manifested by the community. The vessel made several runs between Fast Castle and St Abbs Head, and some excellent views of her magnitude were obtained from the Fort point.

Berwickshire News and General Advertiser, Tuesday 24 September 1907

Local photographer John Wood photographed the Mauretania passing the St Abbs lighthouse, and published the following announcement:

ANY PERSON COPYING PHOTO of the MAURETANIA passing St Abbs Lighthouse, taken by John Wood, Photographer, Coldingham, WILL BE PROSECUTED.

Berwickshire News and General Advertiser, Tuesday 01 October 1907
Mauretania passing the lighthouse by John Wood

This photograph is part of the surviving John Wood Collection. The photographs are out of copyright, but the digital images may have different rights asociated with them. I have been unable to find out how to get permission to use this image, but I have seen it published elsewhere. I would be grateful if anyone can point me in the right direction.

The results of the trials were published in various newspapers. The Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail reported:


Accurate accounts of the Mauretania’s speed trials have now been announced. Under easy steaming conditions the new Cunarder averaged 25.90 knots on Messrs. Armstrong’s measured mile at St Abbs Head. The value this result will be more fully appreciated when it is remembered that a year’s accumulation of silt on the vessel’s hull did not facilitate a record speed. The official trials of the Tyneside built liner, which will take place about a month hence, will, it is anticipated, achieve some remarkable results. The Mauretania lies at her present berth for about a fortnight, during which the work on board should be completed. Yesterday large numbers of workmen were employed on board, and there was a constant stream of men passing along the gangway from the vessel to the quay. The river at Wallsend is once more overshadowed by the huge liner, upon which mid-Tynesiders look with pride.

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail, Tuesday 24 September 1907

Mauretania passed St Abbs for the last time in July 1935, on her way to the breaker’s yard in Rosyth. As she passed, her last Captain, Arthur Tillotson Brown, threw a message in a bottle overboard. It washed ashore at Rosyth itself:


A curious coincidence in connection with the last voyage of the Mauretania to the shipbreaking yards in Rosyth came to light yesterday. Mr G A Lawson, an Admiralty shipwright, was resting during the lunch interval at the boat slip at the dockyard when a bottle containing the following message was washed up on the incoming tide. “With tears and regrets. Good bye old girl. From the bridge deck, Mauritania, East Coast, St Abbs Head, Captain B, July 1935.”

Dundee Courier, Friday 12 July 1935

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