RMS Mauretania, Debut of a Champion
RMS Mauretania is depicted in this painting triumphantly departing the Tyne River at the start of her illustrious career, October 1907. Thousands of proud Britons have gathered to witness the event, covering bluffs and piers and even in boats, crowding every vantage point to see this spectacular new liner. It is now late in the day, having taken the huge vessel an hour and a half to navigate the five miles from her birthplace at the shipyard at Wallsend to the mouth of the Tyne. Two powerful and relatively modern steam tugs guide the great liner from her bow. Made up to each quarter, other tugs assist the ship in negotiating sharp bends in the river.
Included in the escort are two of Tyne and Wear’s own iron paddle tugboats, Washington and President. All are contributing their smoke to the murky atmosphere, broken only by the warm glow of the setting sun cutting through the clouds. Here at the mouth of the Tyne River the waters are loaded with sea-going vessels – cargo ships, square riggers, fishing boats, yachts and excursion steamers – some present in the course of a day’s work, others just to view the majestic new liner. In the background sits the school ship, Wellesley. Built originally as a third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, it was later converted and served here in North Shields as a maritime training school for boys.
On board Mauretania are most of the management of both Cunard (owner) and Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Ltd. (builder). All are in a festive mood for the two-day trip around northern Scotland and into the Irish Sea to Mauretania’s new home port of Liverpool.