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'Queen Mary' sails for the last time

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Unique ID:19444
Description:A Southampton resident recalls the day when 'Queen Mary' left the city for the final time, sailing into retirement in California.
Copyright:Southampton City Council
Partner:SCC Oral History Unit
Partner ID:Unknown


Of course the Echo gave the times of all the shipping in those days, going back a few years, and you knew exactly when they were going to berth and where, what berth, that was in the old [Eastern] docks, all the liners berthed in the old docks in those days.  I believe it was berth 36 the Mary came up into.  You'd hear her hooter way off right down off the Isle of Wight you'd hear the Mary's hooter and you'd know she was coming up.  The next thing you would see her almost standing in the High Street, she was almost standing in the High Street, as they all were 'cos...and then the town came up like that sort of, we were on top of the hill, and it was an impressive sight.

It was a shock when we knew that America had bought it.  There were a good many people around Southampton at that time that would have given the world to have kept her there.  And the excuse was that the English weather would have soon rotted it if it had been made up for any length of time here and of course the Californian weather was stable and she'd be alright over there.  But um I think a lot of people thought it was a crime that she went, that she was a British boat you know, she was English, that was all there was to it.

And when Queen Mary christened it and she said, 'I call this ship Queen Mary', that came as a shock.  Nobody had any idea at all that she was going to be named after her.  And I say to you that when she went, when she did have her final leave, I think she sailed about 8 o'clock actually from Southampton, and we had... I suppose he got it for me, I don't know... but I had a permit to go in the docks then, you had to have a permit to go in, right down to the quayside where she went off, and they had the marine band on the dockside, you know, and the streamers and balloons and everything else, and we stood there... I took the two grandchildren, they were 7 and 8 years old in those days, it was a bit rough to take two little tots like that from Lymington to Southampton but I thought well it was just something to see.  I mean I had seen her beginning and I wanted to see her end.

You know it was... it was... nostalgic when you saw her go off down... you know then when she went that you would never see her again and it was a most impressive sight.


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