Liverpool writer George Garrett worked in the boiler rooms of Mauretania and called the ship “a big scouse boat”. Mauretania and her sister ship Lusitania, were the true ‘Monarchs of the Sea’ and were later affectionately known in Liverpool as ‘Maury’ and ‘Lucy’.
Mauretania was built by Swan Hunter of Newcastle for the Cunard Line and was one of their most successful liners. Cunard and its ships were a central part of Liverpool’s maritime story and the firm was based in the city. Cunard’s 1916 headquarters are one of the most recognisable buildings on the city’s waterfront and one of the iconic three graces.
Mauretania was a Liverpool ship through and through. She was a familiar sight at the landing stage and a link between Liverpool and New York, claiming the Blue Riband for the fastest transatlantic crossing – a record that she held for decades. Her crew were drawn from the streets around Liverpool’s waterfront communities and many of the city’s seafarers served their time at sea with her.
Her career is explored in the museum through a range of objects, including a vibrant painting in the Lusitania: life, loss, legacy exhibition showing ‘Maury’ in dazzle colours and in the painting Modern Liverpool by Walter Richards which is on display in the Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story exhibition. Modern Liverpool shows ‘Maury’ docking at the Liverpool landing stage, no doubt carrying excited passengers on a transatlantic adventure!
One of my favourite things about being a museum curator is finding new objects for the Merseyside Maritime Museum collection and one of the collections I am responsible for is the ship models.
The ship model collection is one of the most important at the Museum and the variety represented is vast, ranging from passenger ships to fishing craft. Ship models help to play an important role in recording and explaining Liverpool’s maritime history. These vessels were crucial to the life of the city through trade and passenger travel.
Mauretania model being sold at auction. Image copyright Charles Miller Ltd.
The model of Mauretania coming up for auction is an incredible record of one of Liverpool’s most iconic and best loved ships. These vessels helped to shape the city’s identity as a unique Atlantic passenger port. The men and women who worked at sea identified themselves with ships like Mauretania and created much of the character of the city. It would be great if we could bring her back to her home.