Siân Evans - "Cruising Between the Wars"
Sunday 13th May at 3.00pm
‘On Board’ Tea is included in the price of this event.
Memorial Hall, School Lane HP8 4JJ
Between the wars, there was only one way to travel between the Old World and the New. The great steamships crossing the Atlantic were microcosms of the societies which produced them, almost miniature floating cities.
Vessels such as the Aquitania and the Queen Mary symbolised national pride and identity, and reflected the hierarchy of their times. First-class suites, decorated like historic boudoirs, were occupied by aristocrats, millionaires and glamorous celebrities. Second-class cabins housed the respectable, affluent and upwardly mobile. Down in the bowels of each ship, the third class passengers were located above the cargo; it was their £5 a head one-way tickets to America which kept the whole enterprise financially viable.
The parallel ‘floating population’, the crew, officers, engineers, stewards, stokers and the all-powerful Captain, each had their own domains and duties. Life Below Decks was often hard and austere, but it offered unparalleled opportunities to travel the world.
Using contemporary sources, diaries and archives, social historian Siân Evans reveals the unknown stories of those who sailed for leisure and pleasure, for industry or indulgence, in the hope of making a fortune or to escape an intolerable existence in their own country. Focusing on the 1920s and 1930s, she examines the phenomenal growth of transatlantic travel amongst all classes, against the background of increasing international menace as the Second World War loomed.