Lusitania/Mauretania Switch in THS Commutator

Lusitania/Mauretania Switch in THS Commutator

Postby Eric Longo on Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:23 pm

Hi All,

I was very surprised to see the well-known color rendering of the Lusitania's First Class Dining Room misidentified as that of the Mauretania in the Commutator article Perceptions of Popularity by Mark Chirnside (Commutator No. 184, p 198).
I share below a photo montage I made using a candid photograph taken looking down from the famous octagonal balcony of the Mauretania's First Class Dining Room. Overlaid are a table number card, Programme and wine label (table 127, dated in pencil on my birthday - but several years earlier!). This all came from a scrapbook kept by someone who saved everything, from the usual deck chair rental cards to dried flowers and palm fronds...even samples of fruit from luncheon, lovingly pressed in a folded menu with pencil notations on the taste of the offerings! Every evening in the Mauretania's last years, the First Class Dining Room was magically transformed at midnight into the hot nightspot “The Club Mauretania”, a working club complete with entertainment by stage and radio stars, exotic drinks and an exquisitely rich late night hot and cold buffet.
The Mauretania's First Class Dining Room was decorated by Messrs. W. Turner, Lord & Co. of London in mid 16th Century François Premier style. Elegantly carved Austrian “straw” oak panelling featured bas-relief motifs of flowers, ribbons, vases, fantastic creatures, cherubs and all manner of wondrous details; it was said no two panels were alike. In addition to the various firms employed, including H.H. Martyn of Cheltenham, it has often been rumoured (and remains unsubstantiated) that Cunard imported several hundred skilled craftsmen from Palestine to work the various woods used aboard her, which included old growth African mahogany, Austrian “straw” oak, sycamore, maple, teak, pear, ash and boxwood. The story of the Palestinian woodworkers is most certainly an embellishment of some sort. After working for months creating intricate and thoughtful detailing for the many public rooms and areas, including this renowned Dining Saloon with its high relief carvings, many of the craftsmen signed the tops of columns and other woodwork – an example of the pride infused in this ship not discovered until the dismantling of the furnishings for auction in 1935. The room also had a magnificent groined dome, studded with medallions of a Zodiacal motif, inspired by the Château de Chambord in the department of Loire-et-Cher in central France. The original swivel-back chairs were first upholstered in a beautiful pink fabric; Messrs. Lord copied the original elegant cerise carpet from a sample of antique Italian velvet.
It was reported in the press as early as 1932 that some of Mauretania’s public rooms were to be sold off to be reassembled when she was finally scrapped. Among the rooms to be sold was this two-level Dining Saloon with its fabulous balcony and dome, said to have the distinction of being the first use of indirect lighting aboard a liner. Much of the upper level of the Dining Room was purchased by Walter Martin on the second day of the May, 1935 auction held aboard the ship. Martin and other investors would then form The Mauretania Syndicate Ltd. with the intention of selling the rooms whole to a U.S. concern but this never came to be. The lots he purchased, including the upper Dining Room, the octagonal balustrade and the groined dome were reconstructed at Sheds 14-16 of the Old Docks (Inner Docks), Southampton by the Mauretania Syndicate later in 1935. Interest was not as strong as hoped, and the final auction of the remaining lots was held at Shed 16 in October, 1936.
I hope you enjoy this look back!

Best wishes,
Eric


Image
The "Club Mauretania" and related memorabilia, Final Cruises, 1934
Restored Digital File © Eric K. Longo 2009/Collection of Eric K. Longo
Buy/sell photos/photocards/mail/memorabilia/scrap items Mauretania 07. I also provide image restoration. Examples in Maxtone-Graham's Normandie and Chirnside's Aquitania. Recently I completed work for the National Building Museum. magikbilly@yahoo.com
Eric Longo
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:56 am

Re: Lusitania/Mauretania Switch in THS Commutator

Postby Nadine Gilbert on Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:33 am

That was all so interesting. Unfortunately, we are unable to see the picture that you posted...are you able to email it directly to me??? The reason is, my Dad has some dining chairs that he believes were on the Mauretania, and he has told me that they were bought by a man who purchased 760 lots, and everything you had written, is exactly what he had been told, so we think that these chairs must really be from the ship. we would love to see your photograph, to see if they are in there. he has 8 of them, and bought them in Guernsey, and was told about Walter Martin. Would love to verify this if poss, by seeing your picture.thanks!
Nadine Gilbert
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:28 am

Re: Lusitania/Mauretania Switch in THS Commutator

Postby Eric Longo on Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:10 am

Hello Nadine,

Thanks for writing. Before responding to you I re-read my post as it was some time ago. Unfortunately, I made an error myself and gave the incorrect impression that the Lusitania image I mentioned was misidentified by Mark Chirnside. That is certainly not the case, as he is very knowledgeable indeed. These kinds of errors happen in the printing of finished articles and works - when images can get mixed up, wrongly captioned and so on. I have seen books where the single most important image was backward!
Regarding your chairs - right now it would be easier for you to send me some photographs of the chairs you have. All my online photographs are down and it will be some time before I get them up again. I had some pc trouble, lost some data and may not even have the composite image I described - but I do have many candid photographs of this room and will have a look for you if you send some images to the address in my signature line. I will be happy to help if I can.

Best wishes,
Eric
Buy/sell photos/photocards/mail/memorabilia/scrap items Mauretania 07. I also provide image restoration. Examples in Maxtone-Graham's Normandie and Chirnside's Aquitania. Recently I completed work for the National Building Museum. magikbilly@yahoo.com
Eric Longo
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:56 am

Re: Lusitania/Mauretania Switch in THS Commutator

Postby Eric Longo on Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:33 am

Nadine,

if you are out there - I have found my chair photographs and eight is the right number! :) Please, send me some photographs as I asked before to me at magikbilly@yahoo.com and we can sort this out. I recently authenticated a pilaster from her Lounge and sold it to the Discovery Museum for a client - maybe we can sell yours if that is a goal and get them presetved/restored. Just a thought.

Best wishes - please do write if you see this. You left no way to contact you. :(

Eric K. Longo
Buy/sell photos/photocards/mail/memorabilia/scrap items Mauretania 07. I also provide image restoration. Examples in Maxtone-Graham's Normandie and Chirnside's Aquitania. Recently I completed work for the National Building Museum. magikbilly@yahoo.com
Eric Longo
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:56 am


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