RMS Orion & RMS Orcades II: Modern Liners

Described in the Architectural Review as “a landmark in the evolution of the modern liner”, Orion (1934) and her sister ship Orcades II (1937) were built for the Orient Line. Orion’s design was a departure from the more usual period styles to a simpler, contemporary style. With modern interiors designed by Brian O’Rorke this was the first time that an architect had carried out the entire decoration of a ship. Designed primarily for tropical conditions they featured air conditioning in all public rooms and a more flexible, informal, open air layout.

Both ships were converted to troopships in the Second World War. Sadly in 1942 Orcades was sunk with the loss of 45 lives south west of Cape Town after a battle with a German U-boat in which she was hit by 6 torpedoes.


RMS Orion

Launched:  Barrow-in-Furness, 1934

Disposal:  scrapped, 1963

Tonnage:  23,696 tons

Length:  665 feet or 203 metres

Maximum speed:  21 knots


RMS Orcades II

Launched:  Barrow-in-Furness, 1937

Disposal:  sunk, 1942

Tonnage:  23,456 tons

Length:  639 feet or 195 metres

Maximum speed:  21 knots


Also see: Ocean LinersSS NormandieSS Oriana.

19 items
RIBA4000Preliminary design for the interior of RMS Orion

RIBA4001Design for a lounge, RMS Orion

RIBA4002Design for the interior of RMS Orion: detail of a lounge

RIBA4025Design for a lounge, RMS Orion

RIBA12669Preliminary design for the interior of RMS Orion

RIBA14165Offices for the Orient Steam Navigation Company, Spring Street, Sydney: the shop window by night displaying a model of RMS Orcades II

RIBA14172RMS Orcades II: grille door to ship's side entrance

RIBA14174RMS Orcades II: the first-class lounge with mural by John Armstrong and carpet and fabrics by Marion Dorn

RIBA14178RMS Orcades II: the first-class cafe with glass decorative scheme by F. H. Coventry

RIBA14192RMS Orion: the first-class lounge

RIBA17071RMS Orion

RIBA17072RMS Orion: sea horse light fitting in the first class dining salon

RIBA17073RMS Orion: round mirror with clock

RIBA17074RMS Orion: the gallery

RIBA21131Design for the interior of the RMS Orcades II: preliminary design for the foyer, looking towards the saloon

RIBA21132Design for the interior of the RMS Orcades II: preliminary design for a lounge bar

RIBA23777RMS Orion: the tavern bar

RIBA23779RMS Orion: the main staircase viewed from the top of the stair well

RIBA23783RMS Orion: the nursery with a large model of the Orion