09 October 2013
Willie More tells the story of the day he watched the launch of the QE2 from its home on the Clyde. ...
Willie More tells the story of the day he watched the launch of the QE2 from its home on the Clyde.
On 5 July, 1965, the keel was laid of hull 736 in John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank. On 20 September, 1967, hull 736 was renamed Queen Elizabeth the Second and launched by the Queen. Fourteen months later on a foggy November morning, the QE2, as she had become known, slipped its moorings at the shipyard and was silently led downstream by four tugs, monitored by a helicopter, to the Firth of Clyde Dry Dock at Inchgreen in Greenock for fitting out.
There were many of us gathered in the grounds of Erskine Hospital that morning to witness the spectacle of this beautiful ship slipping silently between the two already-completed towers of what was to be the Erskine Bridge, before disappearing into the mist. I was there with family and friends, including 18-month old Donald well wrapped up for the occasion.
There was a sense of history there that morning. We knew we would never see its like again.
The bridge workers were poised to get on with the superstructure of the bridge. Once built, with a headroom of only 45 metres – the bridge was an effective barrier and no giant ships could sail down the Clyde again.
During the weekend before the trip downstream, the QE2 was open to visitors. The three things I can still see in my mind are the gold taps in some of the staterooms, gold leaf inlay on the bedroom headboards, and the huge size of the stainless steel kitchens. There was much oohing and aahing. Years later, there was also sadness when we visited the resting place in Long Beach, California of the old Queen Mary, launched at the same shipyard in Clydebank 34 years before the QE2. Now, sadly, the QE2 has met the same fate in Dubai.