The Blue Riband of the Atlantic


Front Cover and Spine, The Blue Riband of the Atlantic by Tom Hughes, 1973.

Front Cover and Spine, The Blue Riband of the Atlantic by Tom Hughes, 1973. GGA Image ID # 20c87b594d


From the Dust Jacket

The blue riband of the Atlantic was the symbolic prize awarded to the luxury liner that made the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. For more than ten decades, the Atlantic Ocean was the setting for intense rivalry between shipowners in Western Europe and North America, competing for the prestige, passenger traffic, and financial rewards that would accrue to the company operating the largest, fastest, and most luxurious liners.

This struggle for supremacy led to the building of a long line of ships, epitomizing all that was finest in naval architecture and marine engineering.

This book begins with a description of the origins of ocean steamship travel and then discusses the development and careers of the most famous ships involved—including the Lusitania, the Mauretania, and the Queen Mary— and concludes with the retirement of the United States, whose record crossing was three days, ten hours, and forty minutes. Details of both the ships and the companies which designed and built them are included.

The book provides a vivid picture of an exciting era now gone forever.



  • List of Illustrations
  • Foreword
  • Chapter One 1818-1839 the Pioneers
  • Chapter Two 1840-1851 Cunard Sets the Pattern
  • Chapter Three 1851-1862 America Throws Down the Gauntlet
  • Chapter Four 1855-1861 Interlude for an Interloper
  • Chapter Five 1862-1876 the Battle for Supremacy—Part One
  • Chapter Six 1877-1897 the Battle for Supremacy—Part Two
  • Chapter Seven 1897-1907 the German Break-Through
  • Chapter Eight 1903-1907 the Incomparables—Lusitania and Mauretania Part One—Conception and Commissioning
  • Chapter Nine 1907-1929 the Incomparables—Lusitania and Mauretania Part Two—Partners in Peace and War
  • Chapter Ten 1929-1939 the Last and Glorious Decade
  • Chapter Eleven 1952-1973 the 'Forgotten' Record
  • Appendix One Record Passages 1929-1952
  • Appendix Two the Blue Riband Ships—Post-record Careers
  • Appendix Three Rms Mauretania—Speed Records
  • Appendix Four Table of Distances, Published 1896
  • Bibliography
  • Index


List of Illustrations

  • The Hales trophy
  • The Great Western
  • The Great Western, designed by Brunei
  • The Caledonia, one of the first Royal mail paddle steamers
  • The Britannia, leaving an ice-bound Boston harbor
  • The Cunard record-breaker Hibernia
  • The Europa, an unsuccessful Cunarder
  • The Arctic, sinking after a collision off Cape Race
  • The Asia, one of Cunard's replies to the Collins' challenge
  • The Persia, the first-ever iron paddle steamer
  • The Caledonia
  • Plan of upper and saloon decks of the Britannia
  • The Persia
  • The Vanderbilt, the North Atlantic sensation of 1857
  • The Scotia, the last paddle steamer to be built for Cunard
  • The Russia, the first screw-propelled Atlantic liner to make a record crossing
  • The City of Paris (I) in her dock berth at Liverpool
  • The City of Brussels, one of the famous Inman fliers
  • The Vanderbilt
  • The City of Paris (I)
  • The White Star Adriatic which revolutionized passenger travel
  • Second cabin and steerage accommodation plan for the Adriatic
  • The City of Berlin, the first record-holder to achieve an average speed of more than 15 knots
  • The Britannic (I) lying to anchor in the Mersey
  • The Germanic, one of the outstanding liners in maritime history
  • The Etruria
  • The Arizona, which collided with an iceberg and survived
  • The Alaska, companion ship to the Guión liner Arizona
  • The lovely America, owned by the National Line, Liverpool
  • The Oregon, the largest merchant ship afloat at the time of her commissioning
  • The Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse
  • The Umbria, one of the last single-screw 'pair' built for North Atlantic service
  • The Etruria, sister ship to the Umbria, under sail at sea
  • Deck plans of the Umbria and Etruria
  • Time table and fare table issued by Cunard for sailings in 1888
  • The City of New York (III), first representative of the new Inman challenge
  • The Lusitania
  • The Mauretania
  • The City of Paris (II), sister ship to the City of New York (III)
  • The Teutonic, built to serve as an armed merchant cruiser in the event of war
  • The Majestic, sister ship to the Teutonic, also built to Admiralty requirements
  • The Campania, lying in the Mersey prior to her maiden voyage
  • The Campania as a seaplane carrier
  • The Lucania which, with her sister ship, held the Blue Riband for four years
  • The Hamburg-Amerika liner Deutschland of 1900
  • The Norddeutscher liner Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse
  • The Kronprinz Wilhelm, setting out for New York
  • The Kaiser Wilhelm II, last of the spate of German record- breakers which preceded the Lusitania and Mauretania
  • The Lusitania, passing the Old Head of Kinsale where she was to be sunk
  • The Mauretania outward bound from Liverpool
  • In her World War I camouflage, while serving as a transport
  • The Bremen
  • The Mauretania as a hospital ship during World War I
  • As an elegant lady, ready to set out on another cruise
  • The Mauretania, preparing to leave Southampton for the shipbreakers' yard at Rosyth
  • Artist's impression of an embarkation scene on the Mersey
  • The Norddeutscher Lloyd liner Bremen
  • The Rex, a superb and extremely luxurious liner
  • The beautiful Conte di Savoia, sister ship to the Rex
  • The French liner Normandie, arriving at New York at the end of her record maiden voyage
  • The Normandie sets out from New York on her return voyage
  • The Queen Mary maiden voyage certificate
  • The United States
  • Tugs take charge of the Queen Mary
  • The Queen Mary outward bound from Southampton on her last voyage from the port
  • The Blue Riband holder United States, passing her companion ship the America, in mid-Channel
  • A superb picture of the current, and almost certainly the last Blue Riband holder, outward bound from New York


List of Ships

▓▓▓ "A" ▓▓▓

  • Acadia (Cunard)
  • Adriatic (Collins)
  • Adriatic (W. Star)
  • Africa (Cunard)
  • Alaska (Guión)
  • America
  • America (Cunard)
  • America (Nat. Line)
  • Aquitania (Cunard)
  • Ariel (Vanderbilt)
  • Arabia (Cunard)
  • Arctic (Collins)
  • Arizona (Guión)
  • Athenia (Donaldson)
  • Atlantic (Collins)
  • Atlantic (W. Star)
  • Augusta Viktoria (Hapag)

▓▓▓ "B" ▓▓▓

  • Baltic (Collins)
  • Baltic (I) (W. Star)
  • Baltic (2) (W. Star)
  • Bremen (N.D.L.)
  • Brighton
  • La Bretagne (Fr. Line)
  • Britannia (Cunard)
  • Britannic (7) (W. Star)
  • British Queen (G.W.)
  • Burdigala ex Kaiser Friedrich (C.S.A.)

▓▓▓ "C" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "D" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "E" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "F" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "G" ▓▓▓

  • Germanic (W. Star)
  • Great Western (G.W.)

▓▓▓ "H" ▓▓▓

  • Hamilton
  • Havel (N.D.L.)
  • Hermann (O.S.N.)

▓▓▓ "K" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "L" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "M" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "N" ▓▓▓

  • New York (I.M.M.)
  • Niagara (Cunard)
  • Normandie (Fr. Line)
  • Normannia (Hapag)
  • North Star (Vand.)

▓▓▓ "O" ▓▓▓

  • Oceanic (I) (W. Star)
  • Olympic (W. Star)
  • Oregon (Guión)
  • Oregon (Cunard)

▓▓▓ "P" ▓▓▓

  • Pacific (Collins)
  • Paris (I.M.M.)
  • Persia (Cunard)

▓▓▓ "Q" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "R" ▓▓▓

  • Republic (W. Star)
  • Rex (Italia)
  • Royal William (I)
  • Royal William (2) (T.S.C.)
  • Russia (Cunard)

▓▓▓ "S" ▓▓▓

  • Savannah (S.S.C.)
  • Scotia (Cunard)
  • Sirius (S.G.S.P.)
  • Spree (N.D.L.)

▓▓▓ "T" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "U" ▓▓▓

  • Umbria (Cunard)
  • Unicorn (Cunard)

▓▓▓ "V" ▓▓▓

  • Vanderbilt (Vand.)
  • Vesta
  • Victoria (Allan)
  • Virginian (Allan)
  • Victoria Luise ex Deutschland
  • Viktoria (N.D.L.)

▓▓▓ "W" ▓▓▓

▓▓▓ "Y" ▓▓▓

  • Ysabel Segunda ex Royal William (7)


List of Steamship Lines

  • American Line
  • Anchor Line
  • Black Star Line
  • British and American Steam Navigation Co, London
  • British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Co
  • Cie Générale Transatlantique see French Line
  • City of Dublin Steam Packet Co
  • Collins Line
  • Cunard Line
  • Great Western Steamship Co
  • Guión Line
  • Hamburg Amerika Line
  • Inman Line
  • Inman & International Steamship Co
  • International Mercantile Marine Co
  • International Navigation Co
  • Liverpool & Great Western Steamship Company, see Guión Line
  • Morgan Combine
  • National Line
  • Norddeutscher Lloyd Line
  • Ocean Steam Navigation Co (US)
  • Oceanic Steam Navigation Co—see White Star Line
  • Quebec & Halifax Steam Navigation Co
  • Red Star Line
  • Transatlantic Steamship Co
  • White Star Line


List of Steamship Captains

  • Britten, Capt, Sir Edgar
  • Charles, Capt J. T. W.
  • Cleland, Capt R.
  • Cook, Capt T.
  • Dow, Capt D.
  • Engelhart, Capt
  • Ewing, Capt E.
  • Grace, Capt
  • Hosken, Capt James
  • Irving, Capt, Sir Robert
  • Jones, Capt
  • Judkins, Capt Charles
  • Lefebure, Capt P. C.
  • Manning, Capt H.
  • McDougall, Capt J.
  • McMicken, Capt
  • McNeill, Capt J.
  • Miller, Capt E. C.
  • Murray, Capt Digby
  • Pritchard, Capt J.
  • Rogers, Capt Moses
  • Stornier, Capt L.
  • Turner, Capt W. T.
  • Watkins, Capt
  • Watt, Capt J. B.
  • West, Capt
  • Williams, Capt J.
  • Ziegenbaum, Capt


About the Author

Born in England in 1903, Tom Hughes is a man steeped in shipping history. He has always lived within sight and sound of the River Mersey and, as a child, spent countless hours on the foreshore at New Brighton and wandered around the dockland.

In 1918, he began working as a junior clerk in the Cunard head office in Liverpool. He was later posted to the company's public relations department where, as a Press Officer, he covered the Cunard waterfront at Liverpool, London, Southampton, and Plymouth. He was assistant editor of the Line's house magazine and later the Cunard- White Star News editor.

In 1945, Mr. Hughes accepted an invitation to join The Journal of Commerce and Shipping Telegraph, Liverpool, as deputy editor. Later, he became editor and subsequently managing editor of this famous publication. During this period, he contributed articles on shipping affairs to the national and technical press. He made occasional broadcast talks on the BBC.

Since his retirement in 1968, he has continued writing and broadcasting.


Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • Personal name: Hughes, Tom, 1903-
  • Main title: The Blue Riband of the Atlantic.
  • Published/Created: New York, Scribner [1974, c1973]
  • Description: 192 p. illus. 23 cm.
  • ISBN: 0684137771
  • LC classification: VM381 .H83 1974
  • LC Subjects: Ocean liners--History. Atlantic Ocean--Navigation--History.
  • Notes: Bibliography: p. 189.
  • LCCN: 73020986
  • Dewey class no.: 387.2/43/091631
  • Geographic area code: l------
  • Type of material: Book


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