Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Cunard Line

The Aquitania leaves Liverpool on her maiden voyage circa 1914 courtesy http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/reflecting-one-greatest-ocean-liners-7233961.

Samuel Cunard, raised in Halifax, was the son of a German Quaker and an Irish Roman Catholic who fled the United States during the American Revolution, part of a large group of United Empire Loyalists.  During the War of 1812, Cunard fought on the British side with the second battalion of the Halifax Regiment.  The young man was a highly successful entrepreneur who was one of 12 people to greatly influence the affairs of Halifax.

In 1830, Cunard founded the Halifax Steamboat Company which ran a steamship between Halifax and Quebec.  Seven years later, Cunard travelled to the United Kingdom where he made a successful bid to run a trans-Atlantic mail service.  The result was Cunard Steamships Limited.  In 1840, the company's first steamship, the Britannia, sailed from Liverpool to Halifax and then on to Boston.  Cunard's ships soon earned a reputation for speed and safety.  However, that reputation came with a hefty cost; Cunard fled creditors in Halifax by 1843, unable to pay his bills.  By the following year, however, the entrepreneur started to turn a profit.

The Cunard Line has owned several famous ships over the decades.  The Carpathia (1901) came to the rescue of the Titanic when it sank in 1912.  The Lusitania (1906) was torpedoed by German U-boats and sunk in 1915.  The Aquitania (1914) served in both World War I and World War II.  The Queen Mary (1936) transported royalty, movie stars and war brides across the Atlantic.

Britannia sails from Liverpool to Halifax circa 1840 courtesy http://postalhistorycorner.blogspot.ca/2014/02/canadian-letter-rates-to-united-kingdom.html.

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