The legendary Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2 on the Hudson River in New York City, October 16, 2008, as she departs for the final time.

27 April, 2010

QE2 Webcam Found

Thanks to "Dubai Guy" posting on my favorite website for finding this cam.,1912.0.html
This is a high resolution cam and if you save the image as mentioned in the forum post, you can zoom in and get a decent idea of our ship is doing in Dubai. 

While not the bridge cam that I used to have open and minimized to a corner of my desktop to see where QE2 was on any given day, this Port Rashid harbor cam is the next best thing.  How sad it is though to see her sitting there idle, baking in the hot sun.

11 April, 2010

Pride of the Clyde

When researching names for this blog, I found it difficult to come up with a unique name that had not already been taken. With the popularity of QE2, it is not amazing that there are a multitude of websites devoted to the ship.  I ultimately settled on "QE2 - Pride of the Clyde."  Unfortunately, a Goggle search found a Coach for hire company in Greenock using "Pride of the Clyde " already.  So much for my unique name.  Since I liked the ring to this name, I figured a way around this, which in theory, might add traffic to the site by adding "QE2" to the name.  Now I was ready to launch my new blog, thinking I had a somewhat unique name to capture my obsession, the pride of Scotland, and to honor the workers who built the last ocean liner in the UK.

The blog was started long after QE2 had made her trip to Dubai.  I had taken one of the final voyages, a very special one that had been shoehorned into the schedule once the announcement had been made that the ship had been sold to Dubai.  This voyage was billed by Cunard as the "Farewell to the UK" voyage and this would be a lap of honor for the ship around the UK.  When I saw the itinery, I knew the Greenock port of call would be special as this was the closest QE2 would return to where she was built.  Unbelievably, the weather was absolutely perfect for our arrival, with an escort my the HMS Manchester.  People were lining the waterfront as we arrived, along with our flotilla of small craft that accompanied us up the Firth of Clyde and eventually into Greenock.  My initial perceptions of Greenock were spot on.

The photo above was taken along the Esplanade, with the docks in the background.  QE2 had obviously not yet arrived, but as the photo shows, there was quite a turnout for QE2's final homecoming of sorts.  We unfortunately never got to see this display and it wasn't until months later did I find photos posted of this tribute.  Once the ship docked, we eventually got off and took a Cunard shore excursion to Glasgow to see the Transport Museum, which has a vast collection of shipbuilders models, but the main reason why we took this excursion was to visit the site of the former John Brown Shipyard to see QE2's birthplace.  I knew that there wasn't much left, but I was still shocked to see utter distruction.  Basically,  the only thing left is the Titan Crane as discussed in the previous post. 

This special day was full of a wide range of emotions.  For us, there was the initial excitement on the approach to Greenoch, seeing Scotland from the sea for the very first time.  Then, there was the feeling that we were experiencing something very historic.  It is not everyday that a non-military ship gets a naval escort into the pier.  The sense of pride was palpable.  People were lining the streets to see the ship all day.  After the euphoria of our arrival, seeing the remains of the John Brown yard later in the day brought the complete opposite emotion of incredible sadness. 

So many countless times I have heard that QE2 was the last great ship built in Scotland, but on this day, there was no escaping why this ship is extremely special, much beloved by so many, and the "Pride of the Clyde."  The once great yard that built her is gone along with industry that the Clyde was famous for.  At the peak of the shipbuilding industry in the UK, "Clydebuilt" meant the finest in shipbuilding, known worldwide.  The opinion voiced by our Titan Crane tour guide as well as everyone onboard QE2 was that the UK was about to loose their finest example of Scottish shipbuilding,craftsmanship, and engineering to Dubai in a few weeks time. The end was coming all too quickly.  QE2 would depart Greenock for the final time later that evening, with a spectacular fireworks send off and not a dry eye in sight. 

For me, though, the planner in me has kept thinking that there is a lost opportunity and by far a more suitible place for QE2 to be in her retirement.  The fitting out basin is empty, awaiting her return............
The John Brown Shipyard fitting out basin, with the red brick lined notch in the bulkhead, modified to accommodate the first two Queens in the background.  In the foreground, the bollards that QE2 and countless other great ships were tied up to during their fitout. 

08 April, 2010

Clydebank Rebuilt

This is the former Fitting Out Basin of the John Brown Shipyard.  In the background are mounds of  building demolition debris and the newly built Clydebank College.  This is the site where the great ocean liners Lusitania, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Elizabeth 2 were completed as well as many naval warships such as the HMS Hood.  Sadly, QE2 would end up being the last passenger ship built in Scotland, the "Pride of the Clyde."  The John Brown Shipyard, in a last ditched effort to stay afloat during the construction of QE2, merged with other yards on the Clyde into Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS).  UCS was later aquired by Trafalgar House , one time owners of QE2, then later acquired by Marathon Oil for oil rig repairing, which saw this industry declining on the North Sea and finally closed its doors for good in 2001.  The site was later completely demolished, save for the Titan Crane, which has been restored and is now open as a unique tourist attraction.

The Titan Crane is the only "A Listed" historic structure in all of Clydebank and stands silently as the sole reminder of the vast shipyard that once existed on this site.  Standing 150 feet tall, and with a 240 foot length of the cantilever, the crane was capable of lifting an astounding 200 tons.  The great gun turrets of the HMS Hood were lifted in place with this crane.  During World War II, Clydebank was targeted by the Germans due to the strategic importance of the shipyards.  Clydebank was the most heavily bombed city in all of Scotland during the war, but miraculously, the Titan Crane was never hit.  Fully restored and open now to the public via a new elevator, the views of the Clyde are breathtaking.

This view, looking down the Clyde towards the Erskine Bridge, shows both the beauty of the Clyde and the devastating remains of the building demolition of the site.  Clydebank Rebuilt has a master plan in place, covering redevelopment of the Clyde.  This short video offers a glimpse of the future for the area.  This video gives a glimpse of the past. For added context, this excellent series of videos document employment in Clydebank, the decline of shipbuilding, and the social changes.

Recently, a new mixed income housing development opened, but vast areas lay open.  Three minutes into the first linked video above, there is a view of the Fitting Out Basin as seen from the Clyde.  What I see missing from that view is the last great ship built on the Clyde and fitted out in that very basin, Queen Elizabeth 2.  Could she return?  There are obstacles such as the Erskine Bridge, which would require temporary removal of her Funnel and Forward Mast.  She could be THE centerpiece for redevelopment of the area.  Here is a Google Earth flyover of the area, which was obviouly taken before all of the buildings were demolished or the new College built.

Currently, QE2 sits in Dubai, fortunately being well cared for, while her ultimate fate is unknown.  Bring the Queen back home!