Nautical Nostalgia (Web) Log

Queen Mary's Whistle

In November 2014 I had a speaking appointment aboard Queen Mary 2. Very pleased finally to get to lecture on board this magnificent vessel. It was to be a short cruise, Southampton to Hamburg and Oslo.

Delayed sailing from Southampton because of a failed Azimuth motor in one of the pods, we finally left the port around midnight. The passage up the Elbe was completed in darkness, and by breakfast time we were all secure alongside at Hamburg. That evening we sailed at about 6pm, again in darkness, but I was out on the promenade deck to “see her out”. Suddenly I heard something that took me back 47 years……..

In 1967 I was cadet with Ellerman Lines, completing a Mid Apprenticeship Release course at the School of Navigation, Warsash. In those days, large liners were commonplace. There was always something interesting to see on Southampton Water.

Queen Mary in Southampton, 1969
Queen Mary as she sailed from Southampton on 21st October 1969

We were saddened to hear that the Queen Mary was to leave Southampton, and the UK for the last time. On the 31st October 1967 I was on the beach watching her final departure. Many small craft accompanied her on her way down Southampton Water. As she came abeam of Fawley Oil jetties, one of the moored tankers gave her three long blasts. The “Queen” replied. That magnificent whistle was the most distinctive ever fitted in a ship in my opinion. I was 18. I didn’t expect ever to hear that again.

But I was wrong.

The whistle from the Queen Mary has been installed in the Queen Mary 2. Now sounded by compressed air, it still sounds magnificent. They’ve even installed a small steam boiler to provide the “feather” when the whistle is sounded.

Nostalgia for me, maybe. But it was quite a moment when I heard that whistle saluting the port of Hamburg last November.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

  • All
  • Articles
  • Curiosities
  • From the Brush of...
  • News
  • Uncategorized
  • Wherrying Tales
From the Brush of...

Turmoil

Fascinating story behind David Bray’s painting of the tug “Turmoil” towing the heavily-damaged cargo ship “Flying Enterprise” in 1952

Read More →
Good Hope Castle
From the Brush of...

Good Hope Castle

Illuminating story behind David Bray’s painting of the mail ship, “Good Hope Castle”

Read More →
From the Brush of...

Royston Grange

The tragic story of the “Royston Grange” – one of a class of refrigerated cargo-passenger vessels operated by Houlders on the South America service. May 2022 sees the 50th anniversary of her sinking.

Read More →
Arlanza
Articles

Arlanza and Penang

Published in ‘Sea-Breezes’ magazine “ARLANZA” and “PENANG” by David Bray and Simon Adams We have a breakfast bar in our kitchen, but it has never …

Read More →
Arlanza
From the Brush of...

Arlanza

From the brush of David Bray Arlanza “Arlanza” was one of three ships built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast, for the Royal Mail Line services …

Read More →
Brunel’s ‘Great Western’
From the Brush of...

Great Western

From the brush of David Bray The Great Western In the development of merchant and naval shipping, the ocean-going paddle steamer was ultimately a dead …

Read More →
Big Ships
From the Brush of...

Big Ships Need Big Tugs

From the brush of David Bray Big Ships Need Big Tugs “Big ships need big tugs” said Sir William Hoy, Chairman of the South African …

Read More →
38 Yeoward Alondra
From the Brush of...

Alondra

From the brush of David Bray Alondra ALONDRA in the Mersey When I was about 11 I started reading “Sea Breezes”. At that time the …

Read More →
From the Brush of...

Royal Archer

From the brush of David Bray Royal Archer Almost forgotten nowadays is the fleet of small passenger-cargo vessels running regular services around the UK and …

Read More →
Scroll to Top