: TS Queen Mary Photograph Archive

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Click on the links beside each photograph to see Queen Mary in different phases of her career

1933-1943 - Williamson-Buchanan Steamers

At the end of 1935 this hitherto independent company, itself a merger of two private fleets, was absorbed by the Caledonian Steam Packet Company, the subsidiary of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. From 1936 until 1943, the Williamson-Buchanan vessels remained in a CSP subsidiary, Williamson-Buchanan (1936) Ltd.
As Williamson-Buchanan had no connection with the railway companies whose fleets dominated the Clyde and owned the piers with railheads, they had traditionally concentrated on "all-the-way" sailings to the coastal resorts from Central Glasgow - a longer day out, but traditionally cheaper for passengers. Queen Mary brought unheard of luxury to what had traditionally been the poor relation of Clyde services and remained closely associated with this route throughout her career.


1943-1973 - Caledonian Steam Packet Co

Although she effectively came under the Caledonian Steam Packet Comapny from the 1936 season, it was not until 1943 when the Williamson-Buchanan subsidiary was wound up and Queen Mary was re-registered with her parent company. The Caledonian, which had been established in 1889, retained its name through railway amalgamations, and when, in 1948, most of Britain's railways were nationalised and operated as "British Railways", it became a subsidiary of this new organisation. During this period, Queen Mary was reboilered and emerged for the 1957 season with only one elliptical funnel. The CSP's ships were removed from railway control when, on 1st January 1969 it became a subsidiary of the Scottish Transport Group, whose main activities were running buses and whose task was to cut the losses being incurred on maritime operations.  From 1973, the CSPs Clyde operations and the Western Isles services of David MacBrayne Ltd services were combined into a new entity, Caledonian-MacBrayne. Photo by kind courtesy of Joe Dalrymple


1973-1977 - Caledonian MacBrayne

When the CSP was merged with David MacBrayne Ltd (whose remaining private shareholders had been bought out) the new state-controlled entity embarked on a rapid programme of modernisation. This involved providing fast and frequent point-to-point services for car ferries - a lifeline for remote communities and essential to handle the growing motorised traffic to the main resorts. They were left with two large passenger-only "cruise" boats on the Clyde and paddle steamer Waverley was withdrawn after only one season. Excursion cruises, with such a strong tradition on the Firth of Clyde could not be abandoned completely and, with nobody expecting Waverley to survive other than as a static exhibit, Queen Mary was retained for further service. With Waverley back on the Clyde in 1975 under preservationist owners and both ships fighting for the dwindling customers  and precious local authority tourist development grants available, Caledonian-MacBrayne decided, after three seasons, to withdraw Queen Mary. Photo courtesy of Martin Roberts.

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1978-1988 : The Wilderness Years

With Queen Mary out of service, the debate raged as to what to do with her. The public and press campaign never matched that of PS Waverley in 1973/4, but Glasgow Distict Council did buy her with the aim of turning her into a museum as part of their riverside developments. Reduced funding available from central government put an end to the project and she was sold on, eventually to restauranteurs who moved her to London. Very little happened until Toby Restaurants, part of the large brewing company Bass-Charrington bought her in late 1987 and immediately set about fitting her out as a restaurant ship to be moored in central London.

Photo of Queen Mary laid up at King George V Dock, London, courtesy of John Jones


1988-2009 : A floating restaurant in London

Arriving in central London at the end of July, 1988, Queen Mary became an immediate attraction, with numerous restaurants and bars in a prime location in the British capital city. Toby Restaurants were clearly very proud of their new premises, but over the years, the amount of space devoted to restaurants was reduced and the main deck was marketed only for functions, conferences and weddings. In the evenings she turned into a night club in an effort to attract custom. After 10 years she received a major overhaul, but by 2008 a further re-fit was necessary to maintain the internal standards needed to compete in an increasingly cut-throat environment. With the economic chaos in 2008 making it increasingly difficult to run Queen Mary as a going concern and the share price of Mitchells & Butlers, inheritors of much of the Bass-Charrington empire, collapsing at an even more alarming rate than the stock market in general  and the need for major expenditure looming, she was put up for sale. There were no takers in the pub/restaurant sector.


2009 : Aboard Queen Mary after closure for business

Photos by kind courtesy of Richard Lane of sales agents and auctioneers, Capital Boats / Capital Marine Auctions

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Late October / early November 2009 : Preparations for removal

With little chance of her being retained as a pub and her valuable berth eyed for new river bus developments, Queen Mary was advertised through a ship-broker and immediately attracted interest. How much was genuine and how much was just sentimental enquiries is unknown, but in April 2009 it became clear that she was destined to be sold to French interests. It then became known that she was bought for conversion to a hotel ship and would be moored in the marina at the French port of La Rochelle. Having closed for business in January of 2009, she was soon emptied and lay forlornly until final preparations were made for her tow away from London under the various Thames bridges on a suitable low tide. In late October 2009, her funnels and masts were dismantled and the end of Queen Mary's life in London could be seen to be coming to a close.

Photo courtesy of Ben Mann

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On tow through London : Monday 9th Nov 2009

Considerable interest was generated by the day of the tow and numerous photographers found suitable locations on the Thames riverbank and bridges to record her departure. Leaving her berth just before low tide and stemming the tide alongside HMS President, one of the few other historic ships on the London riverbank, she was turned and edged underneath London's road and rail bridges and through Tower Bridge which opened for the occasion. By mid afternoon she was at Greenwich and around 18:00 hrs tied up at Tilbury Dock awaiting further instructions.

Photo courtesy of Mike Jackson


At Tilbury

Includes photos taken on the the potential buyers' viewing day - 22nd August 2011

Photos of the viewing day are displayed by kind courtesy of Richard Lane of sales agents and auctioneers, Capital Boats / Capital Marine Auctions

The internal photos show the superficial damage caused by intruders who ripped out cables from cable trays plus general throwing around of furniture in the promenade deck lounges

Do you have any private photos of TS Queen Mary - old and new (for which you have copyright) - which you could supply for use on this website ? If so, the Foundation would be very pleased to receive them as it would like to make this website the central source of Queen Mary photographs on the internet.
Please e-mail the webmaster, Gordon Stewart, on  .
Some photos from internet photo sharing sites are used on this site with thanks where the photographer has granted an open licence for display.  


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