SS Normandie: Trans-Atlantic haut décor

Perhaps one of the greatest liners was the Normandie launched in 1932 for the Le Havre-New York route of Compagnie Générale Translatlantique (or French Line) and the great rival to the Queen Mary for the coveted Blue Riband trans-Atlantic speed record between 1935-1938.

The epitome of French haut décor the Normandie was truly a decadent, luxury ship with Art Deco interiors and large spaces, not least the first class dining room for 700 which was illuminated by pillars of Lalique glass. Exclusive accommodation was provided by a number of large suites including the Grande Luxe Trouville suite and the rather more historic than moderne in decoration Jumièges suite based on the chambers of Louis XV’s mistress the Marquise de Pompadour.

Just two days after the start of the Second World War the Normandie was impounded by the US government becoming the USS Lafayette in 1941. Sadly she came to an ignominious end as whilst being converted to a troopship in 1942 she caught fire capsizing in the Hudson River and although salvaged restoration was too expensive.

These photographs are from an album of 46 photographs of the Normandie acquired by the RIBA in 2014.

Launched:  Saint-Nazaire, 1932
Disposal:  Scrapped: 1946-1948
Tonnage:  82,799 tons
Length:  1029 feet or 314 metres
Maximum speed:  32.2 knots


Also see: Ocean Liners, RMS Orion & RMS Orcades II, SS Oriana.

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