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The Fitment and Decoration of Ships from the "Great Eastern" to the "Queen Mary."
By John de la Valette.
Wed 1st April 1936, Royal Society for the Arts
SIR PERCY E. BATES, Bt., G.B.E. Chairman, Cunard White Star, Ltd., in the Chair
The following paper was then read :-
The scope of this paper is of necessity restricted. Within the time at my disposalI can aim at no more than sketching a brief outline of the changes in the fitment and decoration of passenger ships which have taken place during the last eighty years. The features which make some ships better sea-going vessels than others, or more comfortable to sail in, cannot here be discussed, even though they provide the essential basis on which alone the success of any passenger vessel can he built up. All that will be attempted on this occasion is to sketch the reasons which have at different times induced shipowners to fit and decorate the passenger accommodation in their ships in various styles ; to show by lantern slides what the results have looked like ; and to make one or two diffident suggestions which may, it is hoped, assist towards more fruitful collaboration in the decorative work on ships in the future.
THINGS OF THE SEA AND THINGS OF THE LAND
There are fundamental differences between the things of the sea and the things of the land, most of them being ultimately traceable to the stern reality of the term functional fitness when applied to things at sea. One has but to look at a number of the latest buildings ashore, and to observe how structures of comparable proportions, intended for similar uses, restricted by the same building regulations ,and based on almost identical inner construction, nevertheless manage to assume the most divergent appearances, to realise that on land, more often than not, this term is used by architects as a peg on which to hang their idiosyncrasies. At sea it is not so. There, everything must not only in fact be fitted for its purpose, but ready at any moment of the day or night to stand up to the greatest strains to which it may be subjected. Any failure so to do must entail damage, and may lead to disaster. Nor does this apply only to the material things at sea; the same stern, unfailing fitness for his task must mark every person who would earn his living at sea. For every moment may bring its own searching test to men and materials – with frequently bare survival as the measuring rod applied. This explains and justifies the differences in experience, tradition and outlook between the men who live in the two elements. The fundamental problem that faces the builders and interior architects and decorators of passenger ships is that they have to find a satisfactory compromise between the requirements of the men of the sea and the predilection of passengers.
It is my first submission that no ship will ever be a satisfactory ship, even from the point of view of the landsman or lands woman who has to travel in her, unless first, last and throughout, she complies unstintingly with the requirements of the men of the sea. My next submission is that, even where the mere look of things is concerned, this will he more lastingly pleasing to the extent that it is founded upon a healthy acceptance of the elements which make a ship a good sea-ship.
Starting from these premises one's experience of ships of different nations and classes in many seas over a fairly long stretch of years leads one to suggest the following as a convenient classification of the " styles " seen in the passenger accommodation of steamers:-
1. The style of the " Foreman Joiner."
2. That of the " Grand Palace Hotel."
3. That of the " Museum Ship."
4. That of the " Exhibition Ship."
5. The " Comfort-with-Dignity " style.
These should not be looked upon as chronological " periods." They overlap in time, and are often found mingled in the same ship.
Allow me to indicate succinctly what I mean by these terms.
The style of " the Foreman Joiner " developed from the fact that all the fitting and decoration of ships was at first carried out by the shipbuilders and consequently devolved upon their foreman joiner. The result was invariably suitable, thoroughly solid work. But when it cane to working out a " high-class job, " the tendency to " put a little more art " into it, usually meant adding extraneous ornament or using materials because they were expensive, often with garish results, albeit in the taste of the day.
In due course this no longer satisfied the travelling public. The Grand PalaceHotels that were springing up in all big cities set a different standard which came to be followed at sea. It led to the introduction of pseudo-period rooms, most of them from their normal proportions and dimensions utterly unsuited to the accommodation available in even the biggest ships of the time.
As more lavish decoration became general, it began to pall. Then the ship decorators discovered that public interest was still roused by producing not approximations to period styles, but exact replicas of famous halls or their decorative details in much the same way as houses were being built and furnished in America. 'That led to the study of museum specimens and their reproduction on board. In due course the gloriously middle-class glamour of the CinemaPalace de Grand Luxe effectively killed public interest even in faithful replicas.
Fortunately by this time a fresh movement had grown up to provide shipowners with a new means of arousing attention for their ships. The revival of public interest in living artists, as distinct from those long dead, coupled, at any rate in certain countries, with a governmental passion for national propaganda, led to the utilisation of ships as floating publicity ; they grew into Exhibition Ships, intoShow Boats.
Meanwhile another influence had been at work among shipowners, one which, from inherent personal predilections as much as from a sound consideration of their special type of clientèle, led them to conclude that comfort with dignity provided in the end as strong, if not stronger, an attraction to prospective travellers as the production of "stunts." The interest of this movement lies in the fact that it furnishes shipowners of different countries with a happy means of bringing their national characteristics and aptitudes into play. If it is persevered in we shall find surviving in ships that pleasant variety due to national diversity, which is becoming lost on land through the inane copying by the incompetent of one another's dreary discoveries.
I hope by this rapid survey of the changing styles in ship fitment and decoration to have shown that my classification is not arbitrary, but attempts to express a natural sequence in the development of passenger ships, based upon the changing exigencies of the travelling public.
The earliest steamships plied on inland waters and around the coasts. Their advantages and amenities were consequently balanced in people's minds with those of sailing hoys, horse-drawn canal craft or stage coaches, a fact which is apparent from the advertisements and the articles written at the time.
The first steamboat employed in Europe on a regular passenger service was the wooden paddle-steamer Comet, built on the Clyde in 181I-12 by John Wood & Co. to the order of Henry Bell. It was in his memory that the Queen Mary on her first passage down the Clyde on March 24th blew her deep-throated siren as we passed Bell's monument at Dunglass Castle. Although only 40 feet long with an extreme beam of Irk feet and a burden of 25 to 30 tons, she was proudly advertised in August, 1812 :
" Steam Passage Boat, the Comet, between Glasgow, Greenock and Helensburgh, for Passengers only."
Her main accommodation consisted of a few wooden benches on deck, and a small cabin aft, reached by four steps down a companion way, in which were a table and side benches. There was full headroom only in the centre beneath the skylight. A primitive forecastle, reached by an iron ladder, supplied the only other shelter below deck. A payment of four shillings admitted to the after cabin, three shillings sufficing to secure the protection of the forecastle. After running her successfully in this service, Bell started the earliest of pleasure cruises, using the Comet, to quote his own words, as " a jaunting boat all over the coasts of England, Ireland, and Scotland."Subsequently she carried on a regular service between Glasgow and Fort William in the West Highlands, eventually running ashore off Craignish Point in Argyllshire in 1820, when she became a total wreck.
Among the useful things which the Comet had proved was that she was too small to be a complete financial success. From then on the increase in the size of passenger ships continued persistently. The type of vessel used on the Clyde in1817 already showed increased size and ampler, if still primitive, passenger accommodation, on which the Thames steamers running to Margate in 1819 further improved. In fact, if we compare the latter with, say, the Crested Eagle of theGeneral Steam Navigation Company Limited (built in 1925), we observe that her early precursor already possessed the essentials of our present-day Thames vessels, albeit on a humble scale.
Steam power in ocean-going ships remained, until the middle of last century, very much in the nature of an auxiliary to sail. The interior arrangement of early sea-going steamships was therefore the same as that in contemporary sailing ships. What this meant is shown on a plan and section of the paddle-steamer Brilliant, built in 1830.The main passenger accommodation was still at the after end of the ship, a position which had normally developed in sailing ships from the fact that direct steering, and the need to oversee all the sails, had forced the captain to select his position there, while the highly built-up sterns and abundant stern windows made those quarters the most convenient. Since the engines as well as the paddles of the early steamships were amidships or forward of it, there was no reason to alter this arrangement. Change only came when the introduction of the screw made the after-part of the ship less peaceful or pleasant than amidships, and when decks had grown in numbers, leaving engine rooms far below.
Another useful example of early cabin accommodation is provided by this plan of the Royal Tar, a wooden paddle-steamer of 308 tons gross, built in 1832 for theDublin and London Steam Packet Company. In 1836 she was chartered by those two enterprising sailing shipowners, Wilcox and Anderson, for the service of thePeninsular Steam Navigation Company, which they had recently established to continue by steamships the services between England and Spain and Portugal which they had, since the Peninsular War, carried on with sailing vessels. Thus this humble little vessel became the precursor of the magnificent fleet which thePeninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was in due course to spread over all the Eastern shipping routes. She was so successful that a year later she wrested the mail contract from a most conservative Postmaster-General.
It is worth noting that while the dining saloon is actually placed between the cabins, a practice which long continued, it opens out aft into a sitting accommodation built in the stern of the ship and lighted by the stern windows. Apart from the other accommodation shown on the plan, you may observe that there are two large single-berth cabins. One was available for passengers of great eminence, the other was allotted to the "Admiralty Agent," that is to say, a naval lieutenant who, being in charge of His Majesty's mails, had power to order the ship to stop, to proceed, or to call at ports, as he deemed requisite. Similar arrangements prevailed on the ships of the Peninsular and Oriental Company (as it had become) which went round the Cape to India and the East, such as the Hindustan, which opened this service when she sailed from Southampton on the 24th of September, 1842, the rather bigger Bentinck of 1843 (1,974 tons gross) and other vessels, including those which maintained the Eastern end of the route between Suez and the East. The Western end had its terminus at Alexandria, the so-called " Overland Route " linking the two.
At this point we may again observe that many of the institutions which we flatter ourselves to have invented, have had early predecessors. I have just mentioned an early tourist ship. The P. & O. vessels of the eighteen-forties were already looked upon in the light in which tourists nowadays look upon certain regular lines to the Mediterranean and other parts, namely, as convenient means to make a round tour, as distinct from a passage between two terminal points. In his " Journey from Cornhill to Cairo," Thackeray tells how in those days the performance of the " Grand Tour " seemed to have been changed from an overland voyage into one by the two lines of the P. & O. which between them covered most of that part of the classical world with which a well-bred gentleman deemed it essential to be acquainted. More interesting still, I have been assured by Colonel E. A. Ewart of the P. & O. that his Company never even paid
Thackeray for writing them up in such glowing terms. In that respect at any rate we have advanced to-day !
If the advantages of steamships in the matter of saving time were marked over both sailing ships and communication by land in those parts where railways had not yet been built, the comfort they offered was not excessive. One is not altogether surprised to find Charles Dickens grumbling a good deal about his crossing to America in the first Cunarder, the Britannia, in 1844, when one looks at his cabin and compares it with the glowing description by the Company of the ship's luxurious equipment. Here, indeed, is the " Foreman Joiner " at his most primitive.
But everything is relative. The days of the Empress Eugénie were certainly not lacking in luxury or opulence. Yet here are the private cabin and bathroom of Napoleon III on board one of the ships which the Cie. Générale Transatlantique advertised at the time with great flourish of trumpets. There seems little in them that would not make us prefer a third-class cabin on either the Normandie or theQueen Mary to the Imperial suite of that day.
In the journals of travellers to the East Indies by the " Overland Route " of the P. & O., one comes across references showing that there were, before the opening of the Suez Canal, generally two bathrooms on these ships, one for ladies, the other for gentlemen. They were built into the paddle boxes, thus providing ample opportunity both for splashing and singing without inconvenience to fellow-passengers. Ventilation below deck was scanty, and sleeping on deck was normally resorted to. Judging by the journals of certain Dutch divines who travelled in these ships to Singapore, that rather upset the attempts made on board to " separate the sheep from the goats " wherever possible. In the earlier ships which had no separate smoking rooms, addicts of the weed had to proceed to the forecastle head to gratify their desires.
ADVENT OF THE MODERN STEAMSHIP
The decline of the clipper ship, although she continued for a considerable time thereafter to grace the seas, and the advent of the modern type of steamship maybe dated from the decade between 185o and 186o. There are several reasons for this.
First there was the introduction of iron into the hull construction of ships, at first only in so far as the frames were concerned, the skin being still of wood ;eventually by building the complete hull of metal. It was only by using iron that ships could be built exceeding about 30o feet in length, as it had bees found that over this length no wooden ships could be built strong enough to resist the corresponding strains on their hulls. Thus the completion, in 1851, of the Tubal Cain (787 tons gross), the first composite ship, opened the way for the big passenger ship. The next step was the application to marine purposes of the compound engine in 1856. By reducing the fuel consumption per power unit to a considerable extent, it enabled vessels economically to carry enough fuel for long journeys without the need for intermediate refuelling. The adoption of the screw propeller, at first concurrently with paddles, later, except for special purposes, almost to the exclusion of the latter, was another factor which brought the big steam-driven ship within the reach of practical possibilities. The opening of theSuez Canal, by confirming the great advantage of power ships over those dependent upon winds which the Overland Route to the East had already demonstrated, gave a strong incentive to the adoption of the steam-driven ship.
It is not often that the potentialities of new mechanical and constructional inventions are comprehensively demonstrated in the early years of their becoming available, but the years 1858-59, which saw the construction of the Great Eastern commenced and completed, witnessed in that ship a practical indication of all the salient features of the construction, as well as the fitment and decoration of big ships, for the next half century. The ship, which the magnificent vision ofI. K. Brunei had conceived and the shipbuilding skill of John Scott Russell had created, became a failure as a passenger vessel mainly because marine engines in their day had not yet reached the degree of perfection required for so vast a vessel.Some of her features, even as a passenger ship, which set new standards are worth recalling.
With an overall length of 692 feet, extreme breadth of hull (not including the paddle boxes) of 83 feet, and a depth of 58 feet from upper deck to keel, she measured 18,914 tons and remained the biggest ship ever floated for exactly forty years. In accordance with the indications given by Brunei, who was not a shipbuilder, to John Scott Russell, who was a highly skilled one, her structure was based upon that of the tubular bridge over the Menai Straits, and the upperdeck and bottom were made completely cellular. Not only had she therefore a complete double bottom over most of her length, but the separate cells went up her sides to above the waterline. She was thus the earliest example of a " ship within a ship," of which the Queen Mary provides the most complete demonstration.
In the hope of leaving nothing to chance, she was equipped with both paddle sand screw as well as with six masts, of which the mainmast, in way of the paddle boxes, and the one forward of it were square rigged, the remaining four carrying schooner sails. Having been designed without regard to sailing ship precedents, her stem was straight and her deck flush and without sheer. The latter characteristic has since been abandoned by most ships, and to my mind rightly, as it leads not only to ugly, but to uncomfortable, seaships ; but many of you may remember that pre-war German ships had a strong tendency in the same direction.Her upper deck, which was iron-plated, ran flush and unbroken from stem to stern and measured over 20 feet on either side of the hatchways and skylights to the saloons, thus providing two wide, unencumbered promenades, over a furlong in length, and thereby anticipating the Normandie.
Her passenger accommodation was unprecedented, and long remained unequalled. It provided for 800 first, 2,000 second and 1,200 third-class passengers and a crew of 400. It may be worth mentioning that the biggest ships of recent years, and the two giant liners which France and Britain have recently produced, do not exceed some 4,000 passengers in all, although their crews have grown to be more like one thousand all told.
For the passengers' convenience ample provision was made in five saloons on the upper and an equal number on the lower deck, the aggregate length of the principal apartments being 400 feet. Their equipment still belonged to the " Foreman-Joiner " period, in that it was completely adapted and subordinate to the ship's structure. On the other hand, the materials used were of the most magnificent kind, and mirrors and gilding were found everywhere in great profusion.Nevertheless, apart from such details which depend upon contemporary taste, it will be seen that the decoration of the Grand Saloon, for instance, bears proper relation to the structural features, and might well stand as an example to many later shipbuilders and decorators.
Another feature which marked the Great Eastern structurally, and one which impressed itself upon her interior arrangements, was the system of longitudinal framing, combined with numerous complete and partial bulkheads, adopted byScott Russell. To this were added longitudinal bulkheads in prolongation of the sides of the engine and boiler spaces, which were carried up right to the uppermost deck. A similar feature, by the way, will be found among the most characteristic things in the Queen Mary. In both ships it led to certain result sin the distribution of the passenger accommodation. In the Great Eastern, for instance, it provided the outer limits of the dining saloon, the space on both sides being devoted to cabins. In the Queen Mary, where the owners have elected to continue the dining saloon to the full width of the ship, it accounts for the structural features which have been retained in this vast compartment, the biggest dining hall afloat or ashore. These features, having been skilfully utilised by the interior decorators, pleasantly break up the immense space of the dining room into more circumscribed compartments which, while benefitting from the general effect of vastness, are devoid of the overpowering sense of size which might otherwise have been theirs.
Having seen the apartments allocated to the Emperor Napoleon III some ten years afterwards, it will come as no surprise to you to find the ordinary staterooms of the Great Eastern distinctly primitive, with six-berth cabins the rule. On the other hand, the " Family Cabin," forerunner of our Cabin-de-Luxe, presented various well-thought out features, such as curtains arranged not only to screen off the sleepers, but to enable them to undress in privacy. The furniture, too, in these cabins was of more elegant pattern and in keeping with the best practice of the day ashore, while luxurious carpets were provided.
One other feature requires mentioning. It is generally accepted that in the 'sixties the White Star Line were the first to transfer their first-class passenger accommodation from aft to amidships, and the claim holds good so far as successful, regular ocean passenger ships are concerned. But in this matter, too, it was the Great Eastern which carried out the idea before it had been tried on any other ship.
Finally, she introduced a measure of separation between the third-class accommodation and the crew space, not until quite recently found in many ships, and of which the Queen Mary once more provides the complete example.
The failure of the Great Eastern as a shipping venture caused many of her good points as a passenger ship to be ignored. From the 'sixties to the late 'eighties of the last century there was a good deal of progress in hull and engine construction, but very little in either the fitment or the decoration of passenger ships. The dining room of the Avondale Castle retains the most primitive appearance, and the drawing room of another Union Castle liner of that period proves that though the" Foreman-Joiner " was structurally sound enough, his taste in decoration was not infallible. The " Nederland " liners of the type on which I travelled in theEast Indies in the 'nineties, show the same general features, but the addition of electric light and fans marks a noteworthy improvement. I have myself travelled in those same waters in a ship where the only lights were a swinging, smelling paraffin lamp above the single dining table, and candles in lanterns, one side of which shone into the cabins and the other into the dining room. The only artificial ventilation consisted of a punkah brought into motion by a rope attached to the big toe of a Chinaman, whose leg swung free from the table on which he sat. Abuse and the projection of missiles were the means resorted to when failure of this ventilating power caused the heat to become too oppressive. From such simplicity to the air-conditioning and the cooled or heated ventilation of our modern ships seems a long distance to have travelled in the lifetime of one not yet feeling very old.
FROM Fin-de-Siècle TO THE SLUMP.
The Art Nouveau disease which grew up in the late 'nineties and was enthroned at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 had little effect on the decoration of ships.Occasionally its devastating influence was to be seen, as in the dome of the otherwise very pleasant dining room on the North German Lloyd liner George Washington, but it faded away before it had had time to influence ship decorators. In this country I have never come across it in ships, although that which we produced herein its stead was not, perhaps, any more satisfactory, as witnessed by the dome over the first-class saloon of the Union Castle liner Saxon.
The bigger ships which came into commission since the late 'nineties, the growing competition for the American traffic, and the vigorous growth of German shipping enterprise in many parts of the world, especially on the Eastern routes, introduced the stimulus of keener competition. Under its influence the " Grand Palace Hotel style " began to flourish luxuriantly. Partly for reasons of politeness, partly because too many examples must be known to you all, I will spare you slides illustrating this subject. The efforts varied from those which took the more glamorous of our popular eating houses for their models, to those which vied with the latest hotel palaces of the world's capitals.
An off-shoot of this style was a somewhat mixed affair which reminds us of certain opulent country houses to be found in some countries on both sides of theAtlantic. The lounge of the Winchester Castle is a somewhat disturbing example of this, although the cabins in the same ship, having calmed down a good deal, seem more satisfactory.
An improved post-war, even post-slump, example of this style is to be found in the Empress of Britain. The main lounge and drawing room are hardly distinguishable from those of a sumptuous hotel, and even Mr. Edmond Dulac's Cathay Lounge seems a place on shore rather than in a ship. The hairdressing establishment provides us with a strictly modern battery of frightening apparatus, in surroundings of metal and glass, but the beauty parlour brings in the feminine touch by placing the padded surgical chair in a restful Louis XVI boudoir.
In its most perfected examples the trend from which this style of decoration arose culminated in the beautiful replicas of carefully studied models which were to be found in certain ships, among which the Mauretania held high place, the effect being enhanced by the graceful way in which the natural camber and sheerlines of the vessel's structure had everywhere been preserved in the decorative arrangements. The most recent, as it is also the most magnificent flowering of this style is undoubtedly the Sala Colonna in the Conte de Savoia of the UnitedItalian Lines. I believe that not only many Italians of great taste, but even the management of the Line to-day have certain doubts as to the suitability of having ever built this grand hall into a ship. It may well be that when you come to seethe slides of other parts of this ship, and of her sister-ship the Rex, you will feel it does not belong to them and that you prefer the other parts. But it is undeniably a magnificent, and also a very beautiful achievement in itself, and, to my knowledge, the supreme example of what I have called the " museum style " of ship decoration.
RATIONAL SHIP DECORATION
At this point you may come to ask : "But if such beautiful effects can be obtained by copying, or adapting, the finest examples of interior decoration on land for use in ships, why should not it be done? Provided it be done with good taste, and executed with skill, what is there against the idea?"
You may even wish to add the arguments which the Hamburg-America Line brought forward in commending their then new ship, the Vaterland, better known to the post-war generation as the American-owned Leviathan, that masterpiece of garish excess :
" With regard to the artistic decoration of the public rooms in the first class, it should be observed that a shipping company, which must attract an international public, cannot without more ado set aside the beauty-values of the classical styles, among which must be reckoned many motifs from the days of the French kings, in order to introduce new kinds of styles, so long as the latter do not yet represent a generally established taste."
Or, again, you may wish to quote the argument which we have all heard shipowners bring forward, and which has been an instruction to many ship decorators : " The ladies want to forget that they are on board a ship - make them forget it ! "
There is a good deal of truth in all these observations. We must not overlook that a ship is not built to be an objet d'art, but to earn dividends by attracting passengers, not only those of to-day, but of all the twenty-five years to come, which represent the life-time of a modern passenger ship. This means that one cannot generalise on ship decoration in the abstract, but must consider its application to each trade by itself, and then in the light of the period during which the ship will have to run. Proved suitability is therefore of importance, and one can well understand shipowners being conservative, and adhering as long as possible to what has proved satisfactory in the past.
The question is : How far has there been a genuine change in public taste which warrants making provision for it ? And what are the trends in that change which are likely to survive the next five-and-twenty years ? Let us turn to practice for an indication of the answers which different shipowners arc giving to this all-important question.
The P. & O. Line, at all times among the foremost to provide the nautically perfect ship, had hitherto based its decorative arrangements largely on the ascertained, or alleged, taste of stout Indian colonels and hard-working K.C.I.E.s, all devoted to their present duties – but longing only for the time when they will be settled again in their ancestral home, or the nearest replica of it they can secure.It seemed unsafe to disturb so worthy an atmosphere – and up to the Viceroy of India, the Company did not venture to do it. Yet a glance at the dignified, simple, first-class dining room, attractive tourist smoking room, and pleasantly up-to-date cabins-deluxe on the new Strathmore, shows that there has been little short of a revolution in the interior decorations.
Another line which has hitherto catered for the strongly conservative side ofBritish taste is the Union Castle Line. It, too, has turned a new leaf, as you may notice from comparing the agreeable first-class lounge and the card-room which overlooks it on the Stirling Castle with some of the earlier ships which you have just seen. It has also introduced the useful arrangement of having convertible : sitting rooms by day, bedrooms by night.
Nor is this return to simplicity and distinction restricted to British ships. Good examples of it are furnished by the Manhattan and Washington of the UnitedStates Lines. Here it is not the effect of modernism that has been aimed at, but a homely aspect of comfort, based upon the utilisation of the structural lines of the ship. Some of the cabins in these ships present a rather unusual feature in that a third emergency berth is concealed in the upper deck of the cabins, to be lowered when required. I would also like to show you a very simple but comfortable and cleanly designed ordinary stateroom in one of these ships, and draw your attention to the straightforward plumbing under the wash-basin. I am sorry to say that even on some vessels that have been equipped with great care and forethought the appearance of the plumbing on British ships is far too often open to severe criticism. The example which I show you herewith has been taken from a ship on which an immense amount of thought and care has in all other respects been spent, and I could add many more.
Yet here is a tourist cabin on the Bremen to show how simply and attractively this can be remedied. I strongly urge British shipowners and shipbuilders to establish their own plumbing school, since shore plumbers are notoriously inclined to prefer the Heath-Robinsonian solution every time. I am glad to add that my recent visit to the Queen Mary has shown me that in her this point has been most happily borne in mind.
The earliest examples of ship fitting strictly adapted to ship construction, and decorations based on the inherent features of both, emanated from theNederland Line, of Amsterdam. As long ago as 1906 that Company start edits association with a famous Dutch interior decorator, M. Lion Cachet, which has lasted throughout twenty years, from the Grotius which made her maiden trip in 1907 and has since been scrapped, to the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and the Marnix van St. Aldegonde which were completed just before the world slump came to be felt. I cannot, unfortunately, enter into the interesting principles which guided M. Lion Cachet in his decorative features and his symbolism.In these ships, as far as I know, for the first time the stressing of national characteristics became allied with a sound appreciation of the value of a ship's structure in determining her interior equipment. The result is typically Dutch, yet such as, for that very reason, to make other nationalities feel at home in these ships.
It is interesting to observe that in this Company's Johan de Witt an attempt was made to decorate the stern of the ship with a sculpture of the statesman after whom she was named. The experiment was not repeated.*
For reasons which strike me as being closely akin to those existing at Amsterdam, the next place in which the endeavour to base ship decoration on a national, even local, sense of beauty was Bremen. Excellent ships have been built at Rotterdam and at Hamburg, but somehow, compared to their respective neighbours, these ports never possessed quite the same tradition of highly cultured merchant-princes, with a long training in the appreciation of beauty. The Norddeutscher Lloyd, from the early days, seems to me always to have struck a more personal note in her decorations and fitments than other German companies. Certainly the visit*
It may be of interest to state that one of the most modern of present-day sculptor sin this country has been pressing the Cunard White Star management to allow him to decorate the stem and stern of the Queen Mary. The sculptor's request and the Company's refusal cast an interesting light upon the different notions on " functional fitness " and" functional appearance " held afloat and ashore.
I paid to the Bremen, some years ago, left me strongly impressed on that point; she is unmistakably a German ship, and very distinguished and comfortable in a manner which one identifies with German life.
A vista along the Bremen's promenade deck is an excellent example of the attractive patterns that may be produced merely by taking a little care about structural features. For you should not imagine that every ship of a somewhat similar deck construction produces the same effect. Nor need the pattern always be of the more or less rectangular type here shown. The view of the upper saloon in an early Canadian Pacific liner, the Islander, shows how delightfully curves can be introduced. One needs little imagination to appreciate how shipbuilder and interior decorator, working together with mutual understanding from the early stages of the designing, may succeed in producing as yet unappreciated beauties in ship decoration, without in the least straining the structural design.
Another instance of the influence of national tendencies on the appearance of ships' interiors is to be found in the two recent Italian liners, Rex and Conte diSavoia. That they should be national is not surprising, since they are admittedly propaganda ships, as well as " Show Boats." To this aim certain extravagances are due, the absence of which would in no wise harm the general result. But apart from this, there is evidence, and very delightful evidence, in these ships of inherited Italian traditions. Every Italian mansion is deliberately built around its main staircase. So are the main apartments in the Rex. Then, again, no Italian palace is complete without the lovely vista along seemingly endless passages into which light pours from generous windows. Of that kind is the long gallery in the first class of the Conte di Savoia. Bridges over Italian canals have a rare grace of curves and generally pleasing railings. So has the swimming pool on the Rex which might be a corner anywhere in a sunny part of Italy.
"NORMANDIE " – A FRENCH WORK OF ART
The next, and to this day the most resplendent, attempt to turn ships into floating displays of a nation's artistic genius, is represented by the great French liner Normandie, of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. No one who visits her, or who even only sees pictures of her, will fail to be impressed with the beauty and sweetness of her external lines and the splendour of her interior accommodation. Architecturally and artistically she is a magnificent achievement, one worthy of the highest French traditions. In fact, she stands pre-eminently for the French outlook on much more than merely ships.
The principles which underlie her conception cannot be better outlined than in the words which M. P. de Malglaive, at present Managing Director of the Line in England, was good enough to allow me to quote from a letter he wrote me :
" We wanted to produce, he says, a ship which would embody the most modern artistic trends and be the exact reflection of the French nation's genius ; we had in mind above all cleanness of line and big architectural effects ... We achieved these aims as the result of a tremendous amount of research and designing, by eliminating entirely from the decks any auxiliary machinery, and by providing divided uptakes for boiler-rooms and engine-rooms. All these researches were made in common by the architects, mainly under my own supervision, as at that time I was in charge of the Technical Department of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. " Needless to say, in order to meet the conflicting views of both classes of architects, much ingenuity had to be exercised, but I can assure you that the Normandie as a ship is inferior to no other ship in existence in the world."
From the point of looks nothing could well be more attractive than the ship's general appearance and her immense, unencumbered uppermost deck. Whether that tour de force will enable passengers to walk about happily on that deck during average North Atlantic weather, depends on personal predilection, like so much else in these matters.
Of the magnificent suites of gigantic halls, many of them leading into one another, the slides will give you but a faint conception. Nor is there here opportunity to go into the divergence of opinion which has existed, and, after all the research made in connection with the Normandie on the one hand and the Queen Mary on the other, still persists, between British and Continental shipbuilders on the advisability or otherwise of dividing the smoke uptakes and those from the engine-rooms, in order to obtain those big open spaces in which Frenchmen naturally feel at home, and Englishmen not so easily. On this point, again, it seems to me best that each nation should adhere to that which comes most naturally to it, trusting that if it succeeds to its own, most exigeant, satisfaction, it is most likely to attract also those travellers of other nationalities whose predilections tend its way. After all, no single ship can hope to cater for all the tastes in the world.
A BRITISH POINT OF VIEW
It is possible to consider a ship and her interior arrangements also in another way. That is to look at her first, last and all file time as a ship, and to give to the shipbuilder and the marine engineer first place in one's considerations. Past experience and the results of the research tank will there be the primary concern.Within the limitations derived from the technical decisions the interior decorator swill have to restrict themselves. This is an eminently British point of view.
Allied to that school of thought is the enthusiastic ship decorator, who gleefully accepts the limitations imposed upon his endeavours to produce the finest possible ship of its kind, and derives strength for the design of his accommodation and decorative scheme from the very restraint placed upon him. He is the sort of man who would every time call a ship a ship – and feel assured that if only he is sufficiently competent at his task, no female passenger will fail to be happy in his vessel.
Thus there arose the type of ship decorator who envisaged his problems afresh ;who appreciated the fact that neither the dimensions nor the proportions on board ships correspond with those required for period apartments. The low-ceilinged, extended spaces between decks do not even have their counterparts in modern flat buildings. For there all walls and ceilings are flat, and meet each other at right angles. The sheer and camber lines, essential to a good ship, give an upward curve lengthways to all her decks, that is to say to the floors and ceilings of her compartments, and a downward curve to the thwartship section of her decks, and in addition to this the ship's sides are curved. The Tudor country cottage alone would provide some approximation to normal conditions in a ship !
Then, again, light on land usually comes from above. In ships it rarely does.In so far as it enters from outside at all, it is more often than not reflected upward from sea level. The " Nederland " ships to which I just referred show a perfect appreciation of this in the way the outer doors and windows of certain apartments have been partly screened so as to allow the light to play on the ceiling whilst avoiding its glare in the eyes. Then, again, the straight line hardly occurs naturally on a ship ; the need for conforming to the movements of ships and waves tends towards the curved line in practically every detail. Angularity is not ship-shape – and somehow one feels it is not, as soon as one sits back and allows oneself to watch the gentle movements of the ship. Angularity accentuates their visibility ; smooth curves disguise them. It is a very practical point in catering for the ladies –and others.
Even on the biggest ships halls can only pierce through two or three decks over a certain part of their total area. The sides are bound to be brought down, thus creating effects which are only found ashore in certain smallish seventeenth century churches. Pictures are not usually effective on the side walls ; they strike the eye at the wrong height. Again, I have the authority of at least two ladies, both widely travelled and with a trained eye for interior decoration, for saying that colour schemes on board work out differently from what they do ashore. This is no doubt partly due to the absolute differences in the quality of the light which surrounds one at sea, whether in the open, or in artificially lit spaces. In part, however, the psychological predisposition of at least the female passengers would appear to demand a separate treatment of colour schemes in ships.
These and many other similar considerations, even apart from technical points of difference, have induced shipowners in this country to try and develop a style for their ships independent of shore architecture which, whilst being completely adjusted to their particular type of vessels, will combine absolute comfort with peaceful dignity.
A vessel, the construction and accommodation of which have been deliberately worked out on such principles is the Orion of the Orient Line to Australia.Curiously enough, in conversations with people who are interested in this kind of matter, she seemed to me to receive more criticism than praise. Those who have publicly lauded her interior arrangements, may have something to do with this,
for, unfortunately, they have been recruited largely from among shore architects with a predilection for one particular brand of modernism, that which bears the vintage label 1933. Having recognized something of this style in the ship, they have lauded it. Others for the same reason have been diffident.
Neither point of view seems to me in the least relevant. She is very good as passenger ship, because one cannot help feeling that, even to those who may not like certain of her decorative details, she will, after a couple of days on board, prove to be a comfortable, unassuming ship, which does not all the time force one to be in ecstasy about either art or industry.
If she is, in my submission, not a perfect specimen of her type, it is because her architect does not make one feel that he has yet found his sea-legs at this work.The ship is still too much a replica of a shore " period " style, even though that style be " 1933 " instead of any special " Louis." The point I am alluding to is not very apparent in the first class or the tourist dining rooms, both, it seems to me, pleasant places for their purpose, but, for instance, in the Long Gallery. You will observe the needless angularity of this apartment, the sheer and camber lines which could have added grace to it, as they do to similar rooms in the Queen Mary, having been obliterated. This, clearly, is a survival of modern land architecture which entails too great an addiction to the T-square, and too little appreciation of graceful curves.*
Even so, one feels strongly that the architect is on the right lines, and we can only hope that the managers of the Orient Line will continue their connection with him in their next building contracts, so that their collaboration, so happily begun, may mature, as all good things mature, by further experience and exertion.The only thing one would plead for is that on future occasions the use of materials which are entirely unsuitable in ships should be avoided. I am referring to such things as the big glass panels which are now sometimes also misused on land. Onboard they seem even more out of place, unless one really likes to see strange animals and alleged human beings crawling over the reflection of all the rest of the room.
THE " QUEEN MARY " – A BRITISH MASTERPIECE
We have now reached what is, for the present, the last word in big ships, the Queen Mary. Let me say at once that, to any one with a love of the sea and ships in his heart, she must appear as the supreme British achievement of the two great national industries : shipbuilding and shipping. We can have no doubt to-day that in her performance she will, as in her appearance she already does, constitute a magnificent tribute to her owners, the Cunard White Star Limited, and to her builders Messrs. John Brown & Company, names which have long figured honourably in the history of British ships.
On this occasion I have time only to refer in briefest outline to some of the principles underlying her interior arrangements, a rather fuller exposition of whichI have attempted elsewhere.* In the sense which I outlined a moment ago, theQueen Mary seems to me the perfect embodiment of British views on what a passenger ship should be, both technically and decoratively. She was conceived in the right way, and her design, as well as the completion of every detail, were supervised in accordance with certain fixed general principles, firmly held in view.
Those principles resolved themselves into three :-
I. The ship's structure and means of propulsion should be such as to enable her to perform with unfailing reliability the service that was demanded of her. This service was to accomplish in all weathers, all the year round, a fortnightly service between Southampton and New York, instead of the three-weekly departures hitherto maintained by the fastest ships afloat.
2. Next, her passenger accommodation was to embody everything which the long and carefully recorded experience of the two greatest transatlantic shipping companies in the world could suggest as useful or attractive to passengers.
3. In the fitment and decorations absolute comfort should be aimed at in combination with distinction and grace, while a sense of unity should prevail throughout all the variety which would be achieved.
To solve such great problems, problems which prior to the laying down of theQueen Mary's keel no shipowner in the world had ever attempted to solve, required utilising the best brains and experience which this country can muster. It therefore entailed an enormous amount of committee work. It stands to the lasting credit of the Board and Management of the Company that, with so many different experts to consider, the final decisions were so sternly controlled at the centre that complete unity of conception was enabled to prevail. It speaks also very highly for the sense of good fellowship and mutual forbearance between all the experts concerned, that they entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of such decisions as were taken, and framed their final arrangements to fit in with these. It is this sense of unity and coherence which is among the most marked impressions which I have retained from my studies of the Queen Mary and my visits to her.
The next impression was that of a complete absence of any attempt at perpetrating " stunts " to strike the idle imagination. I have not come across any detail which does not reasonably spring from either some practical, or a perfectly sound artistic, consideration. It is this guiding principle which has enabled the
* "Queen Mary" Supplement of The Morning Post, November 19, 1935.
Board of the Company to maintain cohesion in the vast mass of decorative and artistic work carried out by a great number of artists.
I have frequently been asked whether there could be any cohesion in a pilot work to which so many individual artists have contributed. If you consider the few slides which I am able to show you to-night, you will realise that artists' contributions to the whole effect are, I say it in no disparaging spirit, secondary importance ; they are the finishing touches ; they are not the essence of the effects.
The sculptors seem to me to have splendidly entered into the essentials of their tasks. Spirited as their respective contributions are, they all fall peacefully into their surroundings. In no place do they attempt to jut into prominence. Their works are intended to lighten and break up big spaces. This they do very pleasingly – but the big surfaces still remain the essence of the effect.
Not all the painters have, I think, equally grasped the need for their subordination to their surroundings. They have made good pictures, but often these might just as effectively be shown elsewhere, or other pictures put here. In two rooms only can it be said that the painted walls are of the essence of the rooms, and that without them these rooms would have to be reconsidered de novo. One of these is the little ballroom, decorated by Miss Anna Zinkeisen ; the other the verandah restaurant enlivened by Miss Doris Zinkeisen. Even the very large painting by Mr. Philip Connard in the dining room provides little more than a very pleasing effect at one end of what is only a comparatively small part of the dining room as a whole.
In the same way, but rather more noticeably, being on lower sections of the walls, the delightful panels of Mr. Robert Carse in the same room brighten up the perspective.
The big effects depend everywhere entirely upon the beautiful disposition of the spaces, and the magnificent, yet utterly simple, treatment of the walls, ceilings and lighting effects. The veneered woods have been selected with a sound eye, not merely to their preciousness, but to their natural effects. The artificial patterning of timber, so repellent to all who have a liking for natural woods, is here completely absent. In the treatment of the big apartments, as well as of cabins and private saloons, the most has been made of the natural beauty inherent in a ship's camber and sheer lines, the Long Gallery providing an outstanding example of this. Every impression of angularity has been deliberately avoided by the rounding of angles, not only where walls and decks meet, but also in furniture and fitments. Thus, while structural features have been stressed, that sweetness of curves has been preserved throughout which is so marked a natural difference between ships and buildings ashore. The effect on passengers, subtle and unrecognised though it is, will be found especially valuable at those moments when even the biggest ships afloat are apt to lose their poise.
Interesting too, and as far as I know quite novel, is the manner in which the interior architects of the Queen Mary have in appropriate parts of the ship forsaken the rigidity of symmetrical arrangement, dear to the heart of the shore architect, for the flow of repetitive rhythm derived from the structure of the ship. I would instance the treatment of the tourist class dining room as a very successful example. Another notable feature is the practical manner in which all walls, floors and ceilings have been finished. No materials have been used to this end which are not free from objectionable characteristics – such as inflammability, lack of resilience, a tendency to squeak or moan under strain, and similar weaknesses, and they have invariably been selected and treated with a view to convenience in maintenance and repair. In the swimming pools, for instance, the use of paint and tarnishable materials has been entirely avoided, so that a hose will suffice to keep every nook and corner of them clean.
The colour schemes have all been carefully adapted to the use that is to be made of the different rooms. They work up from the broad qualities of the panelling, as amended by the lighting effects, to the subtle touches in the furnishings. Most successful, as decorative adjuncts, are those paintings which, while picking up in their backgrounds the values of their surroundings, add to these the brighter accents that give liveliness to the scheme of the room. Mr. McDonald Gill's track-chart in the big dining room, and Mr. Edward Wadsworth's painting over the marble mantelpiece in the main smoking room are excellently attuned to their respective surroundings.
In the provision of fitments and of those practical objects the presence of which in the requisite spot adds so constantly to a passenger's convenience and well-being the Queen Mary exceeds any ship hitherto built. This care has ranged from amore extensive provision of single cabins and private toilets and bathrooms than is found in any other ship – to a unique design of coat-hangers which accommodates with equal convenience both male and feminine attire. Entirely novel is the fact that in addition to having a number of single-berth cabins in the tourist class, - practically every stateroom in this class has either its own private bathroom or shower, or at any rate its separate toilet, reached from inside the cabin.
The arrangement by which all the dining rooms and restaurants in the first and tourist classes have their own galleys adjoining them, and not on a deck below, greatly facilitates the serving of the food in perfect condition, while sound-proof and " smell-proof " partitions provide a separation which obviates any disagreeable consequences of this close proximity between the places where the food is prepared and consumed.
An enormous improvement on current practice ashore will be found in the Queen Mary's chairs, and her specially designed pianos are exquisite and superior to any seen on land.
In the matter of furnishing fabrics the owners and decorators of the Queen Mary have paid a handsome tribute to British manufacturers. Having carefully studied the available fabrics at the Royal Academy Exhibition of British Art in Industry, at the Brussels Exhibition where the best Continental fabrics were to be seen, and generally at the various manufacturers' showrooms, it was decided that British manufacturers produced such perfectly designed and toned fabrics, that there was no need to have any materials specially made for this outstanding ship.
In regard to carpets the general weakness of British, as of much Continental contemporary, design rendered it inevitable to have special designs and colour schemes produced. It seemed to me during my last visit to the ship that the carpets already laid down were most satisfying.
With this most incomplete reference to so magnificent a ship I must close this review of the Queen Mary's main decorative features. You will, I hope, have opportunities of hearing lectures exclusively devoted to the Queen Mary and to the Normandie, two vessels which seem to me to stand for the high-water mark of
their nations' respective conceptions of ships and shipbuilding. You will then be able to see in detail in what manner the decorators of the Queen Mary have succeeded in combining practical simplicity of treatment with a constant retention of that sweetness of curved lines which is so typical of every good ship, and which is, even unconsciously, a source of satisfaction to passengers. You will then also appreciate the magnificent team work of which this fine ship is the result, and you will, I feel sure, have no hesitation in confidently expecting that the same spirit of extreme specialisation and coherent collaboration for the greater glory of this country's shipping and shipbuilding industries will be available when it comes to producing that next wonder of the world – the Queen Mary's sister ship.
Meanwhile, let us wish to the owners and builders all the success they so amply deserve, and to the grand ship " God Speed ! " on her great career.
My attempts to make of this paper, if not a complete, at any rate a comprehensive survey of the general trend of ship decoration, would have been instantly doomed to failure, but for the advice, information and helpful suggestions generously provided by a great number of those having special knowledge of the subject. In so far as I have succeeded, the merit is theirs ; the shortcomings are my own contribution. I would thank all the Shipping Companies mentioned for the loan of photographs and slides, and in many cases for having had new slides specially made. I would also acknowledge my debt for much help and information to Lieutenant-Colonel E. A. Ewart of the P. & O., Mr. T. F. Tallents of the Orient Line, Monsieur P. de Malglaive of the Cie. Générale Transatlantique, Baron C. von Pilar of the Norddeutschen Lloyd, Signor G. Fedrigoni of the United Italian Lines, Monsieur L. Bouwman of the Nederland Line, Mr. H. R. Day of the United States Lines, Mr. Eric J. Warman of the Union Castle Line and Mr. D. Fuller of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
To the Cunard White Star Line and Messrs. John Brown & Co., Ltd., I am grateful for many happy hours spent on the Queen Mary in the course of her completion, and for opportunities to study the process by which the activities of such a vast number of experts and artists have been welded into one joint masterpiece. For an insight into the principles that have guided her structural and decorative features I owe thanks to our Chairman of this evening, also to Mr. G. McL. Paterson, the Cunard Company's Superintendent Naval Architect, and to Mr. E. C. Leach, the Head of its Furnishing Department, while Mr. F. A. Derry and his staff have been indefatigable in getting out facts of interest, both past and present.Mr. J. M. McNeill and other members of the Board and Management of JohnBrown & Co., Ltd., provided me with most valuable views on some of the ships they have built, while Mr. J. C. Whipp, of Mewès & Davis, the London architects, and Mr. Benjamin W. Morris, of Morris & O'Connor, architects of New York, furnished me with many considered views and interesting ideas derived from their experience of the equipment and decoration of hotels and ships.
Like all those who have attempted to write or speak about ships I have found the erudition of Mr. G. S. Laird Clowes, as always generously placed at one's disposal, invaluable, and I have to thank the Director of the Science Museum for the loan of interesting slides. To the Morning Post I am indebted for permission to use a number of photographs, specially made for their Queen Mary Supplement, and to Mr. J. Hedley Keefe of that paper for many curious sidelights on early ships and their amenities.
Finally, I would thank Sir Percy Bates for his presence in the Chair to-night, a presence which, at a time when he must be more than ever burdened with work, we can only accept as a genuine tribute paid to the importance of ship decoration as a subject in itself. Coming from so eminent a shipowner this tribute will be valued the more by all those who believe that the interior fitment and decoration of ships is a sphere of activity in which this country need fear no comparison with besiegement of other nations.
THE CHAIRMAN, in opening the discussion, said : I want to join issue with Mr. de La Valette with regard to his strictures on the foreman joiner, because I am conscious that if not to the foreman joiner, at least to the foreman painter, we owe a good deal. There were certain painted cabins, the designs for which were approved by experts with the most amazingly high authority behind them, but the foreman painter said he would not apply the colours. He was told to do so, however, and in the end was proved to be right, for we had to take the colours off again. We have to be grateful to the foreman class and their mates for a lot in shipbuilding and ship decoration.
The lecturer's remarks on The Great Eastern have been interesting : partly because she was a forerunner of the ships of to-day, and partly because, although, as Mr. de La Valette has said, she seems to have been a failure as a passenger ship, she did a job of work that no other ship could do in laying the Atlantic cables. She also laid cables across the Indian Ocean at competitive rates with other cable ships.
Amidst all his remarks on illumination I did not hear the lecturer allude to gas, and yet as a matter of history the original White Star Britannic came out as a gas-lit ship, and I do not think it ought to be lost sight of.
I thought perhaps the most interesting part of the paper, apart from the ancient history, was Mr. de La Valette's discussion of the Italian and French ships in relation to the Queen Mary, and I spent some time this afternoon trying to think exactly how it was that those ships, all conceived at much about the same period, should have come out so different, and I am inclined to think that each country has produced the ships which it is best fitted to produce. There is a different atmosphere in a Cunard White Star ship from that which obtains in an Italian or in a French ship, and I think I am safe in affirming that in what we have done in the Queen Mary there is no intended challenge to either of those countries. In fact, rather, we have chosen to be insular.
If we had attempted to challenge we should have gone into foreign territory, and it would have led us straight into disaster. To travel on a French ship is to get into an entirely different atmosphere from what you get on a British ship, and it is that atmosphere, coupled perhaps with tradition, which to a very large measure governed what we have put into the Queen Mary.
Before I sit down, I should just like to allude to the extreme probability that before we have finished with this ship we shall find we have left something out, and in my edition of the story of Aladdin, in the supplementary tales of the Arabian Nights, I seem to remember that when Aladdin reproved the spirit of the lamp for not having completed the palace he had ordered, the spirit replied by admitting the impeachment but added that perfection was with the Almighty, and that it was for no one else to attain it.
MR. J. HAMILTON GIBSON, O.B.E., M.Eng., said : In expressing appreciation for this delightful lecture I might say, as a matter of interest, that the Institution of Naval Architects is just in the throes of its Spring Meeting. They meet in this very room, but of course they do not deal with decoration, but rather with structural matters, and that is why I came here this evening, to learn something of the artistic side of our work.
I am old enough to remember some of the early vessels which were shown on the screen, and I remember as a small boy making a voyage to America with my father in a vessel in which the saloon was right aft and the sleeping cabins opened off the dining saloon. The first-class compartments of those days were very much poorer than the third-class accommodation of to-day.
THE LECTURER, in reply, said : Referring to the Chairman's remarks, I have had to cut down the paper in reading owing to shortage of time, and therefore may have omitted some reference to the foreman joiner. I agree much more with the foreman joiner than with some of those who came after him in recent times. He was always practical, always workmanlike, and it was only when he tried to put " a spot of art "into his work that the trouble arose.
The question of the effect of colours upon people is important. Here, again, a reference to it will be found in the printed paper. The subject is one which does not yet appear to have been very closely considered in its bearing upon the interior decoration of ships.
The Chairman referred to gas on board the Britannic. I was not aware of that, but I was rung up this afternoon by Mr. J. Hedley Keefe who told me he had just seen a book in which was a contemporary woodcut of the Great Eastern showing that she had what looked like a powerful electric light on her foremast. Underneath were the words : " Electric light on the Great Eastern." I do not know whether that was merely an advertisement stunt, or whether there was any truth in it.
On the motion of the Chairman a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to the lecturer, and the proceedings terminated.
Note p720 * Since this paper was read, Mr. T. F. Tallents, of the Orient Line, has written me :-
" This observation would not, I think, have been made had you seen the ship and not merely photos of her. It is definitely untrue that in the Long Galleries the sheer and camber have been concealed. The sheer has been very carefully left intact, though it happens to be comparatively slight in that particular part of the ship."
I hope to correct my observations in situ next time the Orion is in port. Meanwhile, I am glad to have the principle I raised confirmed in this way by eminent experts.
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