Queen Mary Stairways and Corridors

As I have described before, the Queen Mary was originally designed to carry three distinct sets of passengers in three areas of the ship that were divided by walls and locked doors. First Class occupied the most square footage of the ship, from the enclosed First Class Promenade on Promenade Deck, through the accomadations on Main, A and B deck amidships, to the Cabin Class Restaurant on R deck.

Cabin Class Entrance, M Deck

Cabin Class Entrance, M Deck

This is the entrance to the First Class suites on M Deck. On the left we can see the stairs that lead up to the shopping center on Promenade Deck, and down to the First Class Reception and Pursers Desk. That is where First Class passengers entered the ship from the dockside and were greeted by a swarm of stewerds to escort them to their cabins. M Deck is where the First Class Suites are located, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Winston Churchill, and others had the same suites every time they crossed. This space used to be stylishly furnished with chairs and served as a lounge outside the travel office, seen here on the right. The passages and long hallways on the Queen Mary were originally bare tiled floors when she was a liner. This rather busy carpeting was added sometime in the early 1980s. One can see a brief glimpse of the original look in the movie The Poseidon Adventure, filmed on board the ship in 1972. But the cost of maintaining the shine of the tiled floors would probably double the costs of the hotel rooms!

Tourist Class Stairway

Tourist Class Stairway

On ships stairways are normally installed facing either the bow or the stern as passengers and crew alike will not thus be thrown down the stairs when the ship rolls side to side in rough seas. Here we see a section of the Cabin Class stairway in the stern of the ship, curiously disobeying this rule of safety. I can't imagine why they built it like this. I suppose that is why there is such a strong looking handrail. When the ship is at the peak of its roll to one side, and sometimes this amounted to as much as 30 degrees in very rough weather, I can imagine that this stairway became a sort of fun house where Cunards slogan of "Getting there is Half the Fun" really came true!

Queen Mary Third Class Stairway

Third Class Stairway

Here we see the simple lines of the Third Class stairway in the bow of the Queen Mary. The stairway is steep and plain, with no landings to rest on halfway up as on the Cabin and Tourist Class stairways. I can imagine in rough seas this stairway being a great hazard indeed to all who used it. The bumps on the center handrail were not placed there to aid in ones grip, they were placed there to discourage small children (and adults I imagine) from riding down the banister. I presume it worked rather well.

Queen Mary Endless Hall

Endless Hallway, A Deck

I can remember this part of the tour on the ship in 1978, when I was a small boy. I can remember not understanding why the illusion of the hall never ending occured, only that it was simply the longest hallway I had ever seen in my life. Looking at this picture one notices the handrails along the walls. These were not on the ship until a few voyages in to her career. It was thought that the ship would not roll badly as her size would "span even the greatest trough between waves." Well, as her designers were to find out, the Queen Mary was a tender ship, a roller. She would roll to one side and hang there, sometimes for up to a minute before righting herself. On some storms people would shriek in terror as the ship healed over and stayed there as if to never return to level again. Navigating these hallways in such conditions, even with the handrails, would be treacherous at best. The handrails are made of the latest in lightweight materials of the day; bakelite plastic. It wasn't until the late 1950s that stabilizers were installed on the ship to arrest such dramatic motion. These stablilzers were removed in drydock after the ship arrived in Long Beach.

In the Bow of the Queen Mary

The Cant of the Bow

Here we are up in the very front of the ship nearest the bow on A Deck. The unique geometry of the doors in this part of the ship fascinate me and I had to photograph it. Each door on the ship was constructed paticularly for the frame it hangs within. If that door were to be damaged or need replacing, it would have to be specially built and would cost thousands of dollars today. The new owners of the ship in 1967 learned this the hard way. When the Queen Mary was sold in 1967 to the City of Long Beach, she sailed her last voyage from Southampton to Long Beach round the southern tip of South America. During this voyage the ship encountered some heavy seas and some of the Promenade Deck windows were cracked or broken out completely. Many others were scratched or just showing a lot of age. Someone had the brilliant idea that rather than having a patchwork of new and old windows they would remove all the old windows and order all new windows installed. The person in charge of this project must never have set foot on a ship before, as they simply measured one window frame and ordered all one thousand windows in that dimension. When the glass arrived they were dismayed to find that none of the panes fit any of the frames except for the one measured, and it was then that they learned that each frame was slightly different in dimension than the other due to the cant of the ship from stem to stern. The ship is built that way for longitudinal strength and flexability in heavy seas.

Return to Main Page