A Photographic History
- Janette McCutcheon
15th October 2008
The history of the British transatlantic steamship line in words and pictures.
In 1839, Samuel Cunard travelled from his native Nova Scotia to Britain to raise capital to found his fledgling steamship company, which was to be named the British & North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. Quickly shortened to the Cunard Line, the first ship set sail for Canada and America in July 1840 and opened the steamship trade to the Americas. The fleet rapidly expanded to become the dominant force on the transatlantic route, with feeder services from the Mediterranean too. Never having lost a passenger's life at sea, Cunard was also one of the safest of the steamship lines and operating comfortable ships. By the 1900s, few lines could match the company's vessels for speed or luxury and the advent of the four-funnelled Mauretania, Lusitania and Aquitania just confirmed the pre-eminence of the line. During the inter-war years came the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and the line could boast the fastest and largest ships in the world. Never a line to stand still, in 1969 came Queen Elizabeth 2 and in the 2000s came the world's largest liner, RMS Queen Mary 2.