Well today was the day history was made on the River Mersey as all three of the fleet were together to celebrate Cunard’s 175th anniversary. I didn’t go because they were together just two hours before QM2 departed then QE sailed at 11pm leaving QV overnight, which, being a ship lover rather than Cunard obsessive, makes it a bit of an anti-climax personally when you’re used to full day events with them all. I won’t bore you with photos as they’re all over the internet and on Cunard’s site because this blog post isn’t going to be about today as such but what Cunard and Liverpool mean to me.
Many of you know I live near Southampton. I wasn’t born here but have lived here since 1972 so consider this my true home. However I was born the same year the QE2 entered service so she was 39 when he left, not 41, as demonstrated by the 39 foot paying off pennant. A ship’s life doesn’t begin until then since anything can happen such as fire or the company rejecting like Cunard did originally. Anyway, QE2 was my favourite ship until I discovered Canberra’s far superior Falklands war effort in the thick of the action. Until then, QE2 was my first love, first maritime book I bought, first photos of ships I took and many years later when Canberra was long gone, my very first cruise. I stayed 2 extra weeks at my friend Juanita’s in Australia one time just to see her in Fremantle in what turned out to be her penultimate call. I also booked a cruise from Los Angeles with my friend Amy to come back in with her, hoping she’d follow so had an aft balcony, but she was first. When we booked, we had no idea it was going to be her last time there. She had gone under my skin ever since the first time I stepped aboard and 2008 gave me more opportunities than I could ever dream of. I met a now ex-boyfriend who was working on her resulting in 5 visits in 2 months before going to Dubai. To top it all her farewell gift was flu, which I’d got waving her off on her farewell cruise. It’s a shame she is rotting there but she took part in the original 3 Queens events and will always be part of Cunard history and should be remembered today as much as those who died on Atlantic Conveyor, a Cunard owned vessel sunk in the Falklands on this day.
My dad is from Liverpool and, like Cunard, ended up leaving and basing in Southampton. He’s just 101 years younger and took a more indirect route! 😀 So my connection with the city goes way back to at least before the turn of the 20th century, right to his grandparents. His family originated in Ireland, emigrating to the UK and gradually ending up in Liverpool. Some were labourers, others worked on the docks. He always used to tell me his father would never get any of his sons jobs, telling them if they wanted one, to get it themselves. My aunt Peggy married an American and emigrated from Liverpool to America aboard Britannic in 1956, the passenger list showing she had 12 cases. As some of his family still lived in the city, it became my second home as I was growing up, even experiencing an outside lav before the age of 4! Thankfully, many years later when I returned to my aunt Mary’s, she had a modern bathroom built in. My aunt was fascinated my QM2 but sadly never got to see her. I’d sent her a video but she only had a DVD player. Her son Billy was supposed to lend her his but then was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. My aunt was then in and out of hospital herself, eventually dying in there 10 years ago. I know if she were still alive, she would have been so proud and thoroughly enjoyed this event.
At this time, being a Southampton girl, I could issue bragging rights but I won’t. Liverpool is sort of my spiritual home too through having had that Scouse accent, influence and connection from my dad and rellies my entire life so I’m very pleased for them they got to host it in this very special anniversary year. Southampton just gets to keep the ships! 😉
Happy 175th anniversary Cunard! 😀