Ocean Liners

Ocean Liners: Getting there is half the fun!

Images of four ocean liners from the RIBA Collections

Prior to the arrival of the “jet age” and, in particular, the commercial success of the Boeing 707 “airliner” ocean liners were the dominant mode of transport between continents not only carrying passengers but freight and mail. Today only Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 (QM2) continues that line’s advertising slogan of “Getting there is half the fun!” Indeed the QM2 is now the sole ship in service as an ocean liner albeit not exclusively as she is also used as a cruise ship.

Ocean liners and cruise ships are actually different types of vessels. Ocean liners have regular ocean going routes and being built for the open oceans tend to be stronger, faster and sleeker. In comparison cruise ships tend to be much boxier being largely designed to cruise around the calmer sailing conditions of sheltered waters.

Only a handful of ocean liners now survive, including the SS Great Britain (1843), RMS Queen Mary (1934), SS United States (1951), SS Queen Elizabeth 2 or QE2 (1967) as well as a couple, MV Astoria (built as the Stockholm, 1946) and MS Marco Polo (1964), now plying their trade as cruise liners.

Illustrated here are a number of photographs and drawings of ocean liners from the RIBA Collections including several with interior designs by renowned architects including those for the RMS Queen Elizabeth by the designer of the RIBA headquarters, George Grey Wornum.

Feature by Jonathan Makepeace.

SS Normandie
Ocean Liners

SS Normandie

Click on the image above to go to the Normandie gallery.

RMS Orion & RMS Orcades II
Ocean Liners

Orion & Orcades II

Click on the image above to got to go to the Orion & Orcades gallery.

SS Oriana
Ocean Liners

SS Oriana

Click on the image above to go to the Oriana gallery.

108594 items
RIBA125272(left) Half-elevation of a doorway with broken pediment supported on large console, large seated figure on pediment; (right) half-elevation of doorway with triangular pediment supported by a panel which surrounds part of the upper doorcase

 
RIBA125273(left) Half-elevation of an arched entrance, flanking pilaster and figure in niche at lower left; (right) half-elevation of an arched entrance surmounted by a frieze and a tablet with a broken curved pediment supported on foliage consoles

 
RIBA125274(left) Half-elevation of an arched entrance with double pediments above; (centre) half-elevation of an entrance flanked by Corinthian columns (or pilasters) with frieze and cornice surmounted by broken curved pediment containing a tablet with a triangular pediment above that; (right) Half-elevation of a doorway with details of the console and door mouldings


RIBA125275(left) Half-elevation of a doorway flanked by a rusticated Doric pilaster with curved pediment; (centre) half-elevation of a doorway with triangular pediment; (right) half-elevation front view and two profiles of Michelangelo's door from the vestibule to the reading room in the Laurentian Library (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana), Florence

 
RIBA125276Brancepeth Castle, County Durham: the old gateway

 
RIBA125277Chiesa de Santa Maria de Carignano de Sigri Sauli (Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta di Carignano), piazza Carignano, Genoa: elevation of the facade


RIBA125278(left) Half-elevation of an arched entrance with broken pediment; (right) half-elevation of a doorway with triangular pediment

 
RIBA125279(left) Half-elevation of square-headed entrance with brick surround and stone voussoirs, flanked by a herm supporting a broken curved pediment which contains and is in part surmounted by a superstructure with a tablet; (right) half-elevation of a square-headed entrance above a flight of six steps flanked by a niche with a tablet over, a curved and scrolled pediment, within the pediment a tablet with a superstructure

 
RIBA125664(left) Half-elevation of a square-headed entrance above a single step, a female figure in profile above a large curved console, broken triangular pediment with standing figure with shield and spear; (right) half-elevation of a square-headed entrance above two steps (possibly intended as a variant of the previous design), double Doric pilasters with niche between, broken triangular pediment with standing cupid, above and set back is a curved pedim


RIBA125665(left) Elevation of part of an entrance screen with half-elevation of square-headed entrance with semi-circular element over, half-elevation of plain arched opening and, below, a rusticated dormer window; (right) half-elevation of an arched entrance with giant keystone, rusticated Doric columns, balustrade above, and, below, a part-plan

 
RIBA125666(left) Half-elevation of an arched entrance with rusticated piers and narrow facetted voussoirs and broken triangular pediment; (right) half-elevation of an entrance and profile of the same at right

 
RIBA125667(left) Half-elevation of an arched, rusticated gateway of an extremely elaborate design with heavy curved and broken pediment with a crouching lion and a seated female figure holding a cornucopia; (right) half-elevation of an arched gateway with facetted rustication with above a shallow broken pediment within which is a rusticated dormer or tablet with a broken curved pediment above that


RIBA125668St Etienne-du-Mont, Paris: east side doorway to the rood screen with alternative grille designs to right and left

 
RIBA125669St Etienne-du-Mont, Paris: west side doorway to the rood screen with alternative grille designs to right and left

 
RIBA125670St Etienne-du-Mont, Paris: section of side doorway design to the rood screen as seen in RIBA125669, with plan of left-hand side of doorway


RIBA125671Elevation of an arched entrance gateway with niches in the piers at either side, with a tablet above centre with a triangular pediment and, at either side above the arch, reversed segmental pediments with reclining figures

 
RIBA125672Two half-designs for cartouches with strapwork scrolls, foliage etc.

 
RIBA125673Elevation of an arched entrance gateway with a complicated decorative scheme


RIBA125674Elevation of a city (?) gateway with a large arched central entrance and very narrow doors either side with very elongated voussoirs above them and a triangular pediment

 
RIBA125675Elevation of an arched gateway with a relatively simple lower part, a broken segmental pediment surmounted by military trophies and framing an elaborate cartouche flanked by two female supporters

 
RIBA125676Three half-design cartouches


RIBA125677Elevation of an arched entrance with alternative designs for certain elements to left and right

 
RIBA125678Half-design for a cartouche

 
RIBA125679Elevation of the Porte Saint-Antoine, Paris


RIBA125680Three half-elevations of designs for entrances

 
RIBA125681Elevation of an arched entrance plainly rusticated, with triangular pediment surmounted by flaming grenades and a blank shield in the pediment

 
RIBA125682Elevation of the doorway of the Pavillon Conti at the Chateau of Montceaux


RIBA125683Two half-elevations of rusticated, arched entrances

 
RIBA125684Two half-elevations of rusticated, arched entrances, one with curved pediment and the other with triangular pediment

 
RIBA125685Elevation of an arched entrance supported on piers having a keystone with lion mask, broken segmental pediment with blank cartouche and surmounted by a triangular pediment


RIBA125686Drawing of Flora in a garden with architectural details in the background

 
RIBA125687Elevation of a window or possibly an opening in an entrance screen, possibly for the Chateau de Montceaux

 
RIBA125688Two half-elevations for doorways