Iconic and unique Turbine Steamer – TS Queen Mary

April 25, 2012

Iconic and unique Turbine Steamer – TS Queen Mary

Picture: Used with kind permission Copyright All rights reserved by Ian Murray

TS Queen Mary with her single Funnel

TS Queen Mary II arrives at Millport pier with her latter single Funnel guise

The Queen Mary was the largest Clyde Steamer, capable of carrying 2086 passengers. Built in 1933 to replace the first Turbine steamer TS King Edward built in 1901.


TS Queen Mary was built by William Deny shipyard at dumbarton for Williamson-Buchanan. In 1935 Williamson-Buchanan were contacted by Cunard line. Cunard were getting ready to launch their new Ocean liner which was to be launched by HM Queen Mary. Cunard persuaded W-B to Re-name the Turbine Steamer Queen Mary II and the new Ocean Liner would be named RMS Queen Mary.

A portrait of Her Majesty was presented to hang in the forward lounge.

She was reputed to be a very comfortable ship, her size made for a spacious interior. She also supported two Classes, 3rd & 1st. Other ships of her class had their livery changed to the LMS with yellow funnels etc, however, Queen Mary II retained her White Funnels until the outbreak of World War II.

During the War, she was one of only a few ships Not requisitioned by the Royal Navy, rather she continued her Clyde sailings. In 1948 she was taken over by the Caledonian Steam Packet Company and re-liveried to LMS.

Due to traffic increase in 1950, her coal fired boiler was replaced by Oil fired ones and her two Funnels were removed, replaced with a larger single one, which did seem to look in better proportion with the rest of the ship! She also had a new main mast added to meet with new regulations giving her two masts.

In the 1960s, holiday habits changed and in 1973 it was decided to “Thin out” the fleet, one ship to leave was PS Waverley, which was sold to the Paddle Steamer Preservation society for the sum of £1! TS Queen Mary (Now with the II dropped after RMS Queen Mary’s retirement) was the ship that took over Waverley’s routes!

But while Waverley blossomed in preservation, the Queen Mary wasn’t so fortunate! The introduction of more Diesel powered vessels saw a big decline in passenger numbers on board the ageing Steam powered ships. She was retired on the 27th of September 1977 after working a last Evening show boat from Largs to Rothesay.

She was laid up at Greenock until 1981 when the Lau family from London purchased her for use as a floating restaurant. This venture was a failure and she was sold again in 1987 she was sold to Bass PLC. In 1997 she underwent a major £2.5 Million refurbishment. She was moored at Victoria Embankment on the Thames in London.


She was one of the largest steamers on the Clyde, weighing a hefty 871 tons. After the installation of her second Mast, this rose to 1014 Tons.

Power was supplied by three Parson 350 ihp Steam driven Turbine engines powering three propellers which could shift the ship at a very nippy 21 Knots (Around the same speed Titanic was doing when she struck the Iceberg.)

Her length totals over 252 feet, over 35 feet in width and a Draught of just over 10 feet.

Two of her engines were donated to the science museum, one I believe remains on board!


It’s hard to find recent information about her current fate. She ceased being used as a bar in 2009 and was towed away. A buyer was going to ship her over to France for use as a hotel, but the plans fell through. She was put up for auction in August 2011, but failed to meet the reserve. There are rumours that she was sold this time to a UK buyer. I don’t think anyone knows what the current owner intends to do with her, there was a rumour circulating that she was going to become some sort of attraction at Southend Pier.

Queen Mary on the Thames

Queen Mary on the Thames

It would be nice to see her restored to working order, and the interior returned to it’s 1933 condition. She would undoubtedly be the most popular ship for a cruises around the coast of Britain, like Waverley!

At last report, she was still moored at Tilbury Docks.

Picture Right: © Copyright Lewis Clarke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gordon Stewart April 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Well, I do know exactly what is going on with Queen Mary. If you do want to know about this ship visit the constantly updated Queen Mary website at http://paddlesteamers.info/Turbine%20Steamers/QueenMary.htm
for the latest official news and join the circulation list for e-mail updates if you so wish

There is an ambition to have her returned to service, but there are obvious issues as to why this is still far from reality despitr the fact that she could definitely be successful in that role

2 davidpark May 31, 2016 at 6:32 pm

if ts queenmary2 tutbines are at science centre I think they should return them and refitted to steamer then she car join Waverley on clyde not just sit there like a duck or maid ov the loch

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