John Brown Shipyard, Glasgow, 11 March 1935

By Alan Sparrow

The work of press photographers often goes unnoticed, their published work uncredited, but this image has the added complication in that the creator of the image is not even named.

Seen here is an example of the work of a completely unknown photographer. The RMS Queen Mary sits alongside the dock at the John Brown shipyard on the Clyde, five miles from Glasgow, on 11 March 1935.

This wonderfully atmospheric picture shows workers returning from their lunch break to carry on their work aboard on board the great ocean liner, preparing her for her maiden voyage.

It exists in the Digital Archive of Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, which manages the archives of newspapers such as the Daily Sketch, Evening News, Sunday Dispatch, and the News Chronicle.

Morag McFarland has been with Associated Newspapers since 1990 and is the curator of this vast collection, responsible for the scanning and the marketing of the photographs.

''Associated Newspaper photographers were largely anonymous – credits in the paper were small or non-existent” she says. “Some of the most interesting pictures we have in the collection are marked ‘staff’ and nothing more.”

The Queen Mary was built by Cunard to replace an aging fleet that was being outclassed by modern French and German fleets, and the massive vessel previously known only as 534 was christened RMS Queen Mary christened by her namesake, the consort of King George V, on 26 September 1934. The Queen Mary had a sister ship, RMS Queen Elizabeth (launched in 1938 and both built on Clydeside), and it was hoped their arrival in the Cunard fleet would return Great Britain to the forefront of cross-Atlantic travel.

The Atlantic journey would usually take around 5 days, however, the Cunard-owned Mauretania held the record for decades with a 4.5-day crossing. The Queen Mary broke the record with a crossing of four days, and held the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing from 1936 to 1937 and again from 1938 to 1952. She also held the record for carrying the most passengers when in 1943 she was being used as a troop transporter, having on board a total complement of 16,683 - a crew of 943 and 15,740 soldiers.

She made her maiden voyage in May 1936 and retired in December 1967.


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