Farewell to RMS Mauretania: They Don’t Scrap’em Like This Anymore!

rms-mauretania (Image: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, public domain)

This unique British Pathé preview, set to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, celebrates the last journey of the Cunard liner RMS Mauretania. The famous ship, which captured the coveted Blue Riband for the fastest transatlantic crossing in 1909, holding onto it for 22 years, departed Southampton for the last time on July 1, 1935. Mauretania, by this time neglected with her grand internal fixtures stripped out, drew thousands of well-wishers as she sailed up Southampton Water bound for the shipbreakers at Rosyth, Scotland.

Among those who came to pay their respects were retired commodore Sir Arthur Rostron, captain of RMS Carpathia during the RMS Titanic rescue. Rostron refused to board Mauretania, prefering to remember the ship as she had been when he’d commanded her. During a half hour stop at her birthplace of Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, Mauretania was boarded by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle – reflecting not just her prowess on the high seas, but the pride of the community that built her.

rms-mauretania-first-class-lounge (Image: via AmericanHistory.si.edu, public domain)

So beloved was Mauretania that even US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a loyal passenger, wrote a private letter to Cunard arguing against the liner’s scrapping. Sadly it wasn’t to be, despite many of the ship’s furnishings being salvaged. RMS Mauretania is remembered in the song “The Fireman’s Lament”, while the Pathé Gazette preview (full commentary and video below) summed up the national feeling for this and other great ships of the early 20th century. They don’t scrap’em like this anymore!

“Goodbye to the most famous ship in the world. The Mauretania starts on her last voyage from Southampton to the shipbreakers yard at Rosyth. She’s flying the Blue Riband to show that for so many years, she held the Atlantic speed record. Her last crew of 60 officers and men include some who served in her while she was setting up her speed records.

She’s no longer as smart as she was. Her hull is rusting through months of idleness. Her funnels are sun-bleached, and her masts, shortened to allow her to pass under bridges on her way to her last resting place, give her a curious appearance. Among the ships which lead the chorus of silence as she moves away is the Olympic.

Yachts, pleasure steamers and almost every type of boat join in the send off, not only in Southampton Dock, but along the whole stretch of Southampton Water. And so she leaves us, to make way for younger ships, and particularly for the Queen Mary, whom we all hope will soon be carrying on the traditions of Britain on the sea.”

The dialogue then cuts to:

“The Mauretania is passing under the Forth Bridge as she comes to the end of her last voyage. When she reaches Rosyth, she’ll be broken up. Everywhere she has passed on her journey north, wireless messages of congratulation and farewell have been sent to her.

When the captain replied he signed the message: ‘Farewell. Yours, Mauretania’. We too say ‘Goodbye, Mauretania’.”

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