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Cunard Celebrate 175th Anniversary With Spectacular Display of 3 Queens on Merseyside

26th May 2015
Cunard Celebrate 175th Anniversary With Spectacular Display of 3 Queens on Merseyside

#3Queens - More than one million spectators were estimated to throng Liverpool's UNESCO listed Three Graces waterfront to witness Cunard Line 's Three Queens celebrate a 175th anniversary with a spectacular maritime display yesterday on the Mersey, writes Jehan Ashmore.

For the first time in the prestigious history of the famous liner company founded by Samuel Cunard, that the Mersey was treated to the presence of the three Queen's, the flagship Queen Mary 2 and her 'baby' sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. Less than a week ago Queen Mary 2 had made an anchorage call off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

It is more impressive to watch in anticipation the build up as seen in the aerial footage (full length 90 minutes coverage HERE) overlooking the broad expanse of the Mersey. The footage taken from up to 1,500ft shows the 'Cunarders' display skillful seamanship led by the giant 148,000 tonnes Queen Mary 2 under command of Captain Christopher Wells.

Captain Wells was master of Queen Elizabeth during her first visit off Dun Laoghaire in 2013 and last month her elder sister Queen Victoria made a 'Remembering Lusitania' cruise to the wreck site of the liner off Co.Cork.

Captain Wells counterparts and Liverpool pilots on the other 90,000 tonnes 'Vista' class sisters took part in a maritime sail-past, a 180 degree turn on the river which formed a 'ballet' like scene.

The maritime spectacle during the UK Bank Holiday Monday is understood to have taken 18 months in the planning for the momentous occasion for Cunard, as the birthplace of the prestigious company is in Liverpool. In fact the Port of Liverpool had to dredge the Mersey in order to facilite the the deep-drafted Queen Mary 2 so that she could perform her display beyond the Liverpool Cruise Terminal where she has berthed on previous calls.

It was in 1840 that Cunard's first trans-Atlantic voyage took place with the Britannia that departed the Mersey for Halifax, Canada and Boston in the United States.

On board the Queen Mary 2 is the Britannia Restaurant named in honour of the pioneering ship in which its size would be able to fit within the current 'flagship' which was very much centre-stage to yesterday's wonderful display.

There were many highlights for spectactors ashore and guests on board the trio of Queens, notably the majestic line-up headed by the liner with her fleetmates forming the Arrow-Head formation as they approached Liverpool's famous pierhead waterfront.

At that stage all three Queen's were only 130m apart as they formed abreast a line-up opposite the Cunard Line building (noting footage at I hour 14 minutes) in the heart of the English north-west port city waterfront.

It is here at the Three Graces is where the Cunard Line building stands proudly in the centre between the Port of Liverpool Building and the Royal Liver Building that faces onto one of the World's most famous merchant shipping waterway's. Opposite is Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula that is connected by the famous Mersey ferry as well by road and rail tunnels.

The finale of the Cunard celebrations culminated with an aerial display of 9 Red Arrow jets that made a spectacular fly-past directly over the Queens while off the Three Graces.

Published in Cruise Liners
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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