Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cunard 175th anniversary exhibition in Southampton

Mauretania Image copyright Cunard
Image caption In 1919 the Mauretania inaugurated Cunard's new express service from Southampton to New York.

Photographs of Southampton's maritime heritage have gone on show to mark the 175th anniversary of the shipping company Cunard.

The pictures show the era of the great ocean liners when the port was the hub for transatlantic passenger travel in the early 20th Century.

Cunard's three current liners, Queen Victoria, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, were all named in the city.

The free exhibition runs at Southampton City Art Gallery throughout May.

Image copyright Cunard
Image caption Southampton had a floating dock where ships could be refitted and repaired

Cunard was founded in 1840, with Sir Samuel Cunard's mail steamship RMS Britannia beginning its transatlantic service to Halifax and Boston from Liverpool.

By the early part of the 20th Century, the company's "Big Three" liners - Mauretania, Berengaria and Aquitania - were the primary means of passenger transport the Atlantic.

Image copyright cunard
Image caption The 'Big Three' of Mauretania, Berengaria and Aquitania sailed from Southampton in the 1920s

Black and white shots of the great liners arriving in and departing from Southampton make up the exhibition along with advertising illustrations and memorabilia from the time.

They include pictures of the Mauretania in port. It was the fastest ship in the world when it inaugurated Cunard's new express service from Southampton to New York in 1919.

Image copyright Cunard
Image caption Caronia was nicknamed the 'Millionaires' ship'

The ships were a byword for luxury, with royalty, Hollywood film stars and the leading politicians of the day all travelling through Southampton on their way to or from the US.

The Caronia was known as the "green Goddess". It was renowned for its luxurious service, having 600 staff for the 600 passengers on board.

Image copyright cunard
Image caption Cunard moved its headquarters to the former South Western Hotel building

Cunard moved its headquarters from Liverpool to Southampton in 1965. More than 400 staff worked at the offices in the former South Western Hotel.

In 2011 Cunard announced it would stop sailing under the British flag and the port of Hamilton in Bermuda replaced the name of Southampton on the stern of Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.

Mike Harris, head of culture and planning at Southampton City Council, said: "It is important for us to recognise the contribution of the cruise industry to Southampton.

"It gives us a perfect opportunity to celebrate not only the 175th anniversary of Cunard but also our city's key role in its prestigious history."

Image copyright cunard
Image caption The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were photographed form Mayflower Park shortly after World War Two.

A series of lectures and an educational programme accompanies the month-long exhibition.

The current "three queens" will mark the 175th anniversary on Sunday when they all arrive in Southampton.

They are also due to attend celebrations in Liverpool at the start of July when Queen Mary 2 will replicate the line's first transatlantic voyage.

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