In 1906 Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson launched RMS Mauretania, a 790 foot luxury ocean liner built on Tyneside with a speed of 24 knots. In her time she was the largest and fastest ship in the world and held the Blue Riband for the fastest transatlantic crossing for 22 years. The people of the North East have long been proud of her place in history, as one myself I've recently been given the opportunity to look in detail at some of her features.
At Tyne and Wear Archives I was given the opportunity to digitise over 500 A3 glass plates from their Swan Hunters Collection. The plates cover ship launches, interiors, engineering parts and trials from the 1880's onwards. The vast majority of them are over 100 years old, they're artefacts as well as images, their large scale and detail make them remarkable witnesses to their time.
Amongst the glass plates are 35 images which became the contract photographs of the RMS Mauretania. Inspired by their history and their beauty I'm setting out to recreate some of the interior images I've digitised.
These early glass photographs can be viewed as windows holding a frozen frame of time. Gazing into them propelled a desire to step inside and extend my field of view. To do this I'm using 3D modelling, a digital art form over a century from the technologies of plate photography. This website covers my progress through the project.
3D Digital Heritage
3D Digital Heritage takes the information available on a historic built environment and recreates that environment in a 3D modelling package. To build the model information is sourced from plans, images, texts, documents and other archive materials. It involves investigation into dimensions as well as the materials, textures, fabrics and finishes of the day.
Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums
Alongside the plates I'll be utilising the wealth of information held in the Swan Hunters collection at Tyne and Wear Archives at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle. Throughout this blog I'll tell you what archive material I've used, most of which you can view yourself in the Archives Searchroom.
1st class - upper and lower dining saloon, children's room, library, lounge/music room, smoking room, grand entrance, Verandah cafe, regal suite parlour/dining room, en-suite rooms, parlour suite, special state room, corridor, boat deck promenade, state room 2nd class - dining saloon/drawing room, lounge/smoking room 3rd class - pantry, dining saloon
Swan Hunters Collection
The collection offers several deck plans in different formats and cross sections. There's also room descriptions in the Shipbuilder, several texts and documents and additional images outside the plate collection.
There's loads of on-line information waiting to be used and I'll cite where I've found the most useful of things. Dimensions and measurements should be pretty much covered by Tyne and Wear Archives, the internet will inform me of the colours and textures of the period, these I'll recreate in Photoshop for texture mapping onto the 3D models.
Many of the Mauretania's interiors are still around today, parts have popped up at auction houses as well as in restaurants and bars. Images from these will inform me further of the missing colour palette.
You can find a full list of reference material on the Reference page.
I've selected the interiors I like the best, this is based on where I'd like to sit if I were on board.
The Boat or A Deck and the Promenade Deck
The Boat Deck offers some of the the first class facilities with interiors designed by English architect and landscape designer Harold A. Peto. Its fittings were built by W. Turner Lord & Co. in French and Italian styles fashioned to the latest Edwardian tastes. From this deck I've decided to model the Smoking Room.
From the Promenade Deck I've chosen to build a section of First Class suites on the starboard side of the ship, also designed by Peto.
The Smoking Room alcoves - top left
The Smoking Room looking forward - top right
First Class Parlour Suite - bottom left
First Class Regal Suite - bottom right