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.

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RIBA135144Harrods Department Store, Knightsbridge, London, at night

 
RIBA135145Harrods Department Store, Knightsbridge, London, at night

 
RIBA135146Distant view of the City of London skyline showing the Gherkin (Swiss Re 30 St Mary Axe), from 'More London'


RIBA135147Distant view of the City of London skyline showing the Gherkin (Swiss Re 30 St Mary Axe), from 'More London'

 
RIBA135148Statue of Eros, Piccadilly, London

 
RIBA135149View of Tower Bridge from near City Hall, London, at dawn


RIBA135150Trellick Tower, Cheltenham Estate, Edenham Street, North Kensington, London

 
RIBA13515102 Arena (Millennium Dome), North Greenwich, London, just before dawn

 
RIBA13515202 Arena (Millennium Dome), North Greenwich, London, at dawn


RIBA135153OXO Tower, South Bank, Southwark, London, at night

 
RIBA1351545 Merchant Square, Paddington Basin, London

 
RIBA1351555 Merchant Square, Paddington Basin, London


RIBA135156West End Quay, Paddington Basin, London

 
RIBA135157West End Quay, Paddington Basin, London

 
RIBA135158West End Quay, Paddington Basin, London


RIBA135159Paddington Station. London

 
RIBA135160Paddington Basin, London: Paddington Station train shed seen from the rear

 
RIBA135161 Houses of Parliament, Palace of Westminster, London, at night


RIBA135162Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London, seen from the Hungerford footbridge at night

 
RIBA135163Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, at night

 
RIBA135164South Kilburn Estate, London: detail of one of the new blocks along Albert Road


RIBA135165South Kilburn Estate, London: detail of one of the new blocks along Albert Road under construction

 
RIBA135166Southall Central Buildings, London

 
RIBA135167Southall Water Tower, London


RIBA135168Southall Water Tower, London

 
RIBA135169St Paul's Cathedral, City of London, at night

 
RIBA135170St Paul's Cathedral, City of London, at night


RIBA135171River Thames from Waterloo Bridge, London

 
RIBA135172River Thames from Waterloo Bridge, London, looking towards the Houses of Parliament

 
RIBA135173Tower Bridge, London, at night


RIBA135174Tower of London, seen from the River Thames, at night

 
RIBA135175Tower of London, seen from the River Thames, at night

 
RIBA135176Fountain, Trafalgar Square, London, at night