Good call Closet Classicist! Even though we had quite a through debate on attempting to establish a campaign over on Skysrapercity, it did in the end turn out to be a bit of a damp squib, and it completely slipped my mind to consider engendering an equivalent debate on here, even when the subject matter is far more pertinent to the ethos of this forum and project. The more extensive and eclectic ‘Hidden Glasgow’ community would provide the perfect bedrock to attempt to stimulate support in any potential attempt to acquire the QE2 for the River Clyde, Glasgow, and to be diplomatic about it, the rest of Scotland. Given my family’s, and probably the families of many who post on here’s intimate involvement with the realisation of Hull no. 736 back in 1967, it would no doubt achieve great personal satisfaction for all of us if she were to return home to the Clyde for her retirement. This is to say nothing of course for the huge reservoir of mainstream enthusiasm that could be precipitated throughout the whole of the West of Scotland and further afield if we could see the realistic prospect of one of our finest daughters returning home to the river of her birth. Every project has to start somewhere, and usually the ultimate result of the hard work of a collective few who get the ball rolling… A letters campaign to the local press sounds like an excellent idea to start off and will sound out the extent of the grass roots support, then it should possibly be the business of contacting influential local business figures like Lord MacFarlane of Bearsden to help add some credence to the campaign. Then approaching local and national government bodies, MP’s, MSP’s, Councillors etc…If she were to be located in Clydebank it may be possible to bring together an alliance of local authorities to administer the project, which would spread the costs and take advantage of economies of scale, while uniting all the communities of the Clyde in a common endeavour.
I don’t know what ever happened to that campaign that was attempting to establish HMS Glasgow as an attraction in the city, I only got wind of it when I went to see round her last October on her ‘farewell’ visit to her affiliated city. Here is the website for it, it may be worth contacting her and exploring the possibility of consolidating the campaigns...
I have to admit that I was not aware of any firm proposals as of yet to find an alternative use for her after she is paid off by Cunard, though I am not entirely sure what the exact timetable will be for her eventual decommissioning. Cunard, now owned by the world’s largest cruise operators, the Anglo/American combine; Carnival Corp. & PLC, who operate a 77 ship fleet and also own the P&O, Seabourn and Holland-America lines, are as far as I am aware wishing to establish and maintain an expanded trio of vessels in contrast to the twin fleet that the company has ran in recent years after it’s acquisition by Kvaerner, which only consisted of the QE2 and the wee Caronia, which was recently sold to Saga Tours, and rechristened the Saga Ruby. The new Queen Victoria, currently being built by Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A near Venice as part of a generic class originally planned for the Hamburg-America line will not be in service until 2007, although originally planned to enter service later this year. I have to say I did laugh when reading Melanie Reid’s article in the Herald. It’s quite obvious to me that she hasn’t a clue what she’s on about if she thinks that some hardwood fittings will kill off the QE2 due to new fire safety regulations. The QE2, like her nearest contemporary, the TSS France (now in the form of the much mutilated SS Norway) was designed with minimal hardwood fittings, indeed in order to conform to the fire safety regulations of the time, her interiors were initially branded spartan in comparison to her older glitzy but not gaudy Art Deco sisters. Indeed, the Queen Mary was known as the 'Beautiful Ship of Woods', whose some fifty six species included cedar and satinwood. Rather poignant of course considering her sister, the original Queen Elizabeth was the victim of an arson attack in Hong Kong in 1972, when she was being refitted as a floating university. The fire spread rapidly as her fire-suppression systems were still incomplete, therefore there was nothing to stop the fire from consuming her luxurious wooden interiors, the extreme heat of the inferno eventually causing her superstructure to melt and cave in on itself. The fireboats trying to put the fire out, committed the same careless miscalculation that put the Normandie on her side in New York during WWII. As more water was sprayed on her superstructure to try to extinguish the blaze, she started to list to starboard, as the water was confined to the upper half of the ship when her watertight compartments were sealed. By the next morning, she was on her side.
Of course today, the QE2's interiors are much altered from their original appearance, as she has been through several major refits, the most extensive of which was carried out by Lloyd Werft of Bremerhaven in 1986/87 which saw her notorious steam turbines replaced by more economic diesel/electric propulsion equipment, and her twin screw, six bladed propellers replaced by quin-bladed types. The last major refit was in 1999 which saw major refurbishment of the Grand Lounge, Queens Room, the Caronia Restaurant and Golden Lion Pub, as well as the addition of new suites. By then she had cost Cunard several times more in alterations than it actually cost to build her in the first place! My point here is that any requirement to replace hardwood that has been added over the years could be undertaken with relative ease and would not make her obsolete as she suggested. However, what may cause problems in the future is the extensive use of Aluminium Alloys in the design of the upper five decks of her superstructure (She was launched, in fact, with three decks of her superstructure already in place). This however is an extremely fire hazardous material, which was incorporated due to the fact that it is three times lighter than steel-plate. If any of you remember the Falklands War, then what happened to the Type 21 Frigate HMS Antelope amply demonstrates the fire risk posed by this material.
I just want to address other issues regarding the feasibility of navigating the Clyde, and of her probable location in relation to the ongoing Clyde Corridor Regeneration. I’m not entirely sure about the present levels of siltation on all sections of the River Clyde, though at Yorkhill Quay and BAE Systems Govan, the River Clyde is currently at a depth of some 28ft ranging to 30ft during the high spring tides, therefore pretty extensive dredging would almost certainly be required to facilitate the QE2 on this section of the Clyde if she was to maintain this displacement, which has a critical draught of 32ft, which can be increased to 41ft using ballast in calm seas. The existing slipway arrangement at BAE Systems Govan is capable of handling vessels at just over 1000ft in length. The Clyde is still deep enough for the QE2 below Shieldhall Quay and the KGV Dock, as this section is still regularly dredged and does occasionally handle vessels with a greater displacement than the QE2. The issue of suitable clearance under the Erskine Bridge is also quite a perceptive point. At deep draught, the QE2 has a total air draught of approximately 172ft, or 52 and a half metres, the Erskine Bridge I believe only has a clearance of 45 metres (can anyone confirm that?), so depending on issues regarding tidal conditions, suitable bunkerage and ballast would need to be taken into account. Depending on the outcome, it may even be necessary to temporarily, partly dismantle or even completely strip the QE2 of her smokestack casing in order to navigate further upstream. Depending on the extent of the alterations to the funnel, it could be refitted at BAE Systems Govan, the only yard left on the upper reaches of the river with adequate cranage, though I believe the Titan Crane at the former Barclay Curle Shipyard in Scotstoun is still kept in full working order, and could possibly be utilised. The Clydebank Titan has deteriorated to such a degree, that I doubt it could be put back into operation, and depending on the progress of the refurbishment project, this could completely rule it out by 2010. This of course depends on the extent of alterations to the ship itself and it may be possible to simply reconstruct part of the funnel on board. The Newshot Isle meander at Dalmuir and Rashilee is probably the single most hazardous natural obstruction in bringing the QE2 back up from the Firth. I was perhaps a little over optimistic about the Panamax point here, as she fits into it’s ship locks with only 18 inches to spare on either side! In-fact the Queen Mary on her only voyage downstream grounded in the deposited mud flats at Dalmuir, the stress almost causing her keel to fail. However as the QE2 has 2x1000hp variable pitch Bow Thrusters she has a greatly enhanced ability to manoeuvre in such restrictive bodies of water.
I would also be extremely concerned as to her possible integration into any potential land based component of the attraction that is overbearing and not sympathetic to her scale and lines. It will be inherently difficult to optimally achieve this with a liner some 294 metres in length and with a beam of 32 metres, especially considering a possible location would be Yorkhill Quay, at the Glasgow Harbour Commercial Phase, and adjacent to the new Riverside Transport Museum. Obviously this would require extensive reworking of the KPF masterplan to accommodate a ship of this scale. Every effort must be undertaken not to repeat the dreadful mistakes that has led to the horrific state that the R.Y. Britannia, now permanently berthed at Leith is in, being completely obscured and consumed by the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre, and disfigured by that ghastly access gantry and stairwell block that has been grafted onto her port side at the bridge wings, though I suppose Britannia is an inherently smaller, inflexible vessel and not as easy to convert into such a commercial venue, whilst simultaneously not impinging to a significant degree upon her aesthetics, but the state of her new berth at the Shopping Centre is really reprehensible. My personal preference if she were to come home, would be to berth the QE2 at the old 980ft long Deep Water Berth in the Fitting Out Basin at the former John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, which would also make manoeuvrability much easier due to the confluence with the River Cart. This site is thee home of the QE2, it is exactly where she was initially fitted out and adjacent to her Cradle on No.4 berth in the East Yard, and I feel that it would present the most appropriate, and indeed most convenient location for her on the Clyde. It’s position would also offer the flexibility to reinvigorate the old West Yard, which has been derelict since 1999, since Offshore Oil Platform Builders, UiE Scotland closed the yard down. The wider scope of the Clydebank Rebuilt project, which is at present proposing a new campus for Clydebank College at the old Shipyard, would also offer great potential to construct well tailored ancillary facilities to support the venture, in particular perhaps utilising the Titan Crane refurbishment as a new museum, charting the construction of the liner back in the mid sixties. The extensive Page and Park masterplan for the site is also at much less mature stage of development, therefore would offer the flexibility to tactfully incorporate the liner. It should also be noted that the QE2 will have massive scope for use in a multitude of commercial ventures; you have a ready made Berlitz rated five star hotel, capable of accommodating 1,777, it’s Royal Promenade Shopping Centre, which includes a Harrods outlet, world class conference and leisure facilities, and a host of world beating restaurants already on board, such as the Queens Grill, Mauretania Restaurant, Lido Restaurant, and Britannia Grill. The potential of this ship’s use as a commercial concern is virtually infinite…
Interesting point about it being fuelled by pure sentimentality. Perhaps, but even if the awareness of the Clyde’s heritage of building these historic liners is still in considerable evidence, how long do you think that could be sustained in the future, especially when the QE2 is out of sight and out of mind? It is vital that this ambition is realised for the sake of reasserting the position of the Clyde as the focus of Glasgow and it’s hinterland, and establishing an enduring symbol of the Clyde Valley at the apex of it’s heavy industrial era. As I said before over on SSC, “bringing the vessel back to the Clyde would pay massive dividends culturally and economically, as she would form a principal psychological conduit in re-anchoring the river as the focus of the city, thus retying our cultural heart to the sea and our maritime heritage, which would of course help bring about a re-invigoration in smaller scale river traffic in the Upper Clyde, as the modern commercial Port is now almost exclusively located in the Firth, one of the grandest natural harbours in the World. I agree and feel that the current sterility on the Clyde does explain why most people are under the impression that there is no contemporary Shipbuilding industry, though I think the mainstream public are pretty well aware of our maritime heritage (The Clyde Room at the Transport Museum paying more than most acknowledge to that). I would imagine that given the QE2’s iconic status, in-fact it is quite possibly the most famous vessel afloat, attempting to achieve government backing financially and in principal would be a pretty credible, and it is also a British flagged Merchant Naval vessel so there would be no issues there…”
Edit: I've just noticed that M Riaz has posted some pretty detailed images of the Clydebank Regeneration over on SSC, sorry if this ain't the done thing M Riaz, but I think it does help to illustrate my point!