RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ – What Are You Waiting For?

RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ – What Are You Waiting For?

If you love ocean liners…what are you waiting for? Get this on your bookshelf now!

I am grateful to Captain Phill for his very positive review on his YouTube channel!  

It is packed with a wealth of additional photos…The colour section has also been expanded with some wonderful colour postcards and colour views of its lavish interiors and the two big things that need to be highlighted about this edition is that more information as come to light about its life as HMS Caledonia, the training ship, and so there is more information about what life was like for boys on that establishment and also what work had to be undertaken in order to convert the Majestic into the Caledonia… In addition to this he has found some wonderful nuggets of correspondence, letters, recollections from people who have travelled on the Majestic and their information about what it was like to be on this ship in the 1920s is pure gold…It adds a touch of warmth to the tale of this wonderful ship.

For those familiar with Mark’s work, you’ll know that he has a wonderful easy flowing style…You also know that all his information and statements are backed up with rigorous research.

Copies are still available with a signature and personal inscription, with secure payment options through this website.  If you have any queries before purchasing, please get in touch using the contact form.

 


 

RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ – The Reviews Are In!

RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ – The Reviews Are In!

Since its release early last month, the long awaited revised and expanded edition of RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ has been selling very well.  I am grateful to all those who purchased a copy, because it is this support that makes it possible to continue researching, writing and publishing books about these great liners.  All the research and time involved in producing something like this makes it an expensive enterprise.  It is something that the vast majority of authors can only do part time, because it is not feasible as a full time occupation (if it were, I would probably have written a hundred books by now!)

The reviews are coming in and are very positive:

Just finished reading this book, after missing out on the first print, this was worth the wait, an absolutely fabulous book!

Copies are still available with a signature and personal inscription, with secure payment options through this website.  If you have any queries before purchasing, please get in touch using the contact form.

 


 

Tourist Class: Majestic, 1932

Tourist Class: Majestic, 1932

Although it was primarily their magnificent first class public rooms which hit the headlines, Albert Ballin made sure that second class passengers were not neglected.  His three enormous liners, as well as Cunard’s Aquitania, made significant advances in second class accommodation.  There was an increased variety of public rooms compared to Olympic.

Their accommodation was not enough to impress Cunard’s naval architect Leonard Peskett, who wrote in 1913 that Imperator‘s second class public rooms were: ‘All a long way behind that arranged for Aquitania‘.  He thought that the second class staterooms were of the same standard as other German liners ‘with the exception that all ceilings (in cabins that could be seen) are panelled’.  He noted that the gymnasium was a ‘new feature’ in second class (White Star also added a gymnasium to Britannic‘s second class accommodation).

Nonetheless, Majestic‘s second class passengers had a smoking room and writing room available to them; a gymnasium; the main lounge and reading and writing room.  These were facilities which were not necessarily available to first class passengers onboard liners a few years earlier.  From the mid 1920s she carried second class passengers as well as tourist third cabin, but these classes were later merged to form a single ‘tourist class’.  In 1932, a lavish brochure was printed to show off the tourist class passenger accommodation.  The colour-coded deck plans showed all of the public rooms and stateroom accommodation available and are included in the new edition of RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ which was released earlier this month.

Below: we see on the right the former second class public rooms in their tourist configuration and the dance floor added in the main first class companionway; to the left, the deckhouse with the large lounge further aft on B-deck was originally part of the third class accommodation; at the far left, we see part of the deck above and the veranda which was now available for tourist class passengers.  (The deck designations are those used in the latter part of her career.)

 

Man Overboard: Majestic, October 1926

Man Overboard: Majestic, October 1926

In the early hours of 13 October 1926, Majestic was experiencing stormy weather during one of her many crossings of the North Atlantic.  First class passenger David P. Davis and a younger female companion, Lucile Gehring, had been together since dinner the previous evening.  They were sat talking in the sitting room of Davis’ suite, D42, while Davis’ ten year old son George lay asleep in the bedroom, D44, next door.

One of Majestic’s first-class ‘suite of rooms’ on the port side of D-deck, comprising a bedroom (D44) and sitting room (D42), wardrobe room and private bathroom facilities. The location of the sofa and the two portholes is clearly visible in the sitting room. (The deck designation later changed from D-deck to B-deck, as shown on this 1933 deckplan, so that B42 became D42 and B44 became D44). (Author’s collection)

 

They ‘had an occasional drink’ (a quart bottle of champagne between them) and Davis drank ‘half a bottle of rye whiskey’. Lucile ‘tried to leave on three separate occasions but he pulled her back after she had reached the door’. (Night watchman R.W. Tyrell ‘did not intervene as there was no violence and he knew the parties to be friends, who sat late as a rule’.)  Davis remarked: ‘If you go away and leave me, I’ll go through there,’ and pointed through the porthole. She thought it was ‘bravado’. He put his money on the table and ‘told her to keep it as she’d need it’. He ‘sat for a time in the recess of the port with his feet on the sofa’. She was ‘somewhat confused’ what happened next. He said ‘catch me honey, I’m slipping’ and ‘goodbye dearie here I go’.

She ‘caught his arm for a second’ but ‘almost before realising it he was gone’. She was ‘sure he slipped’. Her scream alerted Tyrell, who ‘immediately responded and reported to the bridge’. It was 5 a.m.: ‘The ship was immediately turned round, two lighted life buoys thrown overboard, emergency boats manned, officers and men stationed to keep a lookout…’ Majestic steamed 1½ miles to the westward of the buoys and circled slowly for an hour, but he could not be found. There was a ‘strong wind … accompanied by heavy rain and rough sea’.

This and other incidents, forming a rich social history of life onboard, are included RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ , released later this month.

FAQ: Majestic’s ‘Record’ Passenger List

Did Majestic Carry the White Star Line’s Highest Ever Number of Passengers in September 1923?

It has sometimes been reported that Majestic set a record in September 1923, carrying the White Star Line’s ‘highest ever’ passenger list of 2,625 passengers. There are several discrepancies. The statement, or a variation of it taken from several websites, appears to be traceable to Duncan Haws’ Merchant Fleets Volume 19: White Star Line (Starling Press Ltd; 1990), page 90:

1923 Sept: Fastest then crossing 5 days 5 hours 21 minutes. Average 24.75 knots. Only Mauretania was faster. On one crossing carried 480 first, 736 second, 1,409 third = 2,625, the company’s highest ever.

The first problem is that Majestic only made one westbound departure from Southampton that month, on 12 September 1923. She carried 1,774 passengers, including 815 in first class (her highest that year, westbound). She did, however, make two eastbound departures from New York – on 1 September and 22 September 1923 – with passenger lists in all three classes totalling 607 and 657, respectively. None of these three September departures had such a record list, although they did include the best first class passenger list that year for the westbound crossing, and (eastbound) Majestic carried 853 in first class on her 23 June 1923 New York departure.

The report appears to refer to the 26 October 1923 westbound departure, when Majestic carried 475 first class, 731 second class, and 1,416 third class passengers for a total of 2,622 passengers, her highest that year in either direction.  When Majestic arrived in New York on 1 November 1923, the figures given in America by the North Atlantic Passenger Conference were:

  • 480 first class
  • 736 second class
  • 1,411 third class

That total was 2,627 passengers, which is also very close to the ‘record’.  (Any of the figures represented a record for Majestic herself.)  If Majestic did carry that many passengers, albeit the following month, was it right to claim it was the highest passenger list of a White Star Line vessel?

No. We know that Celtic carried 2,957 passengers in September 1904.  That appears to be the highest passenger list ever recorded for a White Star liner.

 


 

RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ is available for pre-order!

The RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ second edition is available to pre-order!

RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’  is being released as a revised and expanded edition by the History Press.  It is scheduled to be published on 14 March 2024.

When the original edition was released by Tempus Publishing in November 2006, it was the first book to focus solely on her history.  Lots of material and illustrations were published for the first time.  Critics loved it:

 ‘Mark Chirnside has once again delivered a book that not only tells a story, but also makes that story come alive – Majestic is no longer a mere footnote. RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ is a book that fills the need for a comprehensive look at the White Star Line’s last flagship.’

Now, you can *pre-order* signed copies of the revised and expanded edition through this website.  The page count has been expanded 50 percent, from 96 to 144 pages.  It includes about 180 images (about 50 in colour), the majority of which are new (about a quarter appeared in the original edition). All in all, the revised and expanded edition is virtually a new book.  Highlights include previously unpublished information about

  • Cunard’s naval architect, Leonard Peskett, who set about examining Imperator when she entered service in 1913;
  • details of Edward Wilding’s role as he supported Bismarck/Majestic‘s completion and went about the unenviable task of liaising between Blohm & Voss, Harland & Wolff, White Star and the British Board of Trade (in particular, the struggle to get certain features accepted under British regulations as opposed to the German standards);
  • accounts about life onboard during the Roaring Twenties, including fights among the crew, drunken passengers falling overboard and getting into mischief;
  • life onboard HMS Caledonia for boys undergoing their training between 1937 and 1939;
  • data rich appendices, including a comparison of Imperator/Berengaria and Bismarck/Majestic‘s earnings throughout their careers. 

Other new features exclusive to the new edition include lavish deck plans of first and tourist class accommodation in full colour; a rare Italian brochure produced for third class passengers; detailed plans of the boiler and engine rooms drawn by the talented Lionel Codus; photos of life onboard in the 1920s and 1930s; and photos of her as HMS Caledonia, featuring areas such as the former first class dining saloon converted to a mess hall and boys undergoing training onboard.

To see page previews from inside the book and pre-order your own signed copy, checkout the Majestic book page .  Secure payment can be made by card or PayPal using the payment button (make sure you select your location – if your country is not listed, please contact Mark).  If you have a specific personal inscription you would like, make sure to include it with your order; if not, your copy will have the author’s signature and date. All pre-orders received by 14 March 2024 will be shipped as soon as the book is released. 

Signed  copies also come with a Mark Chirnside’s Reception Room bookmark, so you won’t lose your place.  That means no excuses for using dog ears, which will damage the book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Article from the Archives: Majestic Specification File

Majestic was the largest ship in service from 1922 until 1935.  The new edition of RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ will be published shortly and so it is worth taking a look at her key specifications and statistics.  This specification file was published in November 2007 and gives a good idea of the scale of the ship. It illustrates that Majestic carried up to 1,093 crew, including almost eight hundred in the victualling department, who were tasked with looking after the passengers in all three classes.  Her oil consumption per day was typically 840 tons (indeed, she burned 4,550 tons of oil during the course of her 189th westbound crossing in January 1935) and her engines developed an average of about 66,000 shaft horsepower.  Her gross tonnage (a measure of the ship’s size by the total enclosed space, not weight) was about 22 percent greater than Titanic‘s.  

RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’

RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ second edition

RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’  was published by Tempus Publishing in November 2006.  Unfortunately, the initial print run soon sold out and, following a change of ownership of the publisher, it was never reprinted.  For years, it has been rare to come across a second hand copy.  One was even advertised on Amazon UK for the grand total of £3,827.24 (plus postage) in 2014!

The good news is that this much sought after book is being released as a revised and expanded edition by the History Press.  The original book consisted of 96 pages and this has been increased to 144 pages, with new information and rare illustrations (particularly relating to her time as the naval training ship HMS Caledonia). There is an extensive colour section with previously unpublished images and deck plans. It is anticipated that the new edition will be available in spring 2024.

We will keep you posted. This blog will be updated as soon as signed copies are directly available, so stay tuned.