Mauretania model set to spark bidding war at auction

MODEL SHIP... Mauretania stopped off the Tyne on her way to the breaker's in the 1930s.
MODEL SHIP... Mauretania stopped off the Tyne on her way to the breaker's in the 1930s.

Eighty years and more since she went to the breaker’s yard, she is still a magical name in the history of trans-Atlantic travel.

So expect a fierce bidding war when an impressive model of the Tyne-built liner Mauretania comes up for auction next month.

Expect a fierce bidding war when an impressive model of the Tyne-built liner Mauretania comes up for auction next month.

The model, which is 12ft long and weighs half a tonne, is being put up for sale in London on May 12 by Swan Hunter, who remain its owners.

And already there is a concerted effort to secure the scaled-down representation of the ship for Liverpool, which has historic links to both the Mauretania and the Lusitania – the latter torpedoed and sunk 100 years ago next month – as their port of departure on their trans-Atlantic crossings.

An appeal has been launched to raise the £50,000 the model is expected to command; if secured, it would be put on display at Merseyside Maritime Museum.

So should we be fighting for it, too, given that the ship itself came out of the Tyneside yard of Swan Hunter’s?

Hm. There is an identical model in the Discovery Museum in Newcastle, which is of the same vintage and, unlike its twin, is complete with its original mahogany base.

So the one up for sale is not unique.

So where has it been all these years?

It seems that Swan Hunter loaned the model to the Science Museum in London in 1938, where it could be seen in the museum’s shipping gallery until its closure in 2012.

The model was then put into storage, but it has always remained the property of Swan Hunter’s, who have now decided to sell it.

Mauretania, of course, was launched from Swan’s in 1906, and we have become used to seeing impressive old pictures of her coming down the Tyne on her departure.

But here she is outside the harbour nearly 30 years later when, en route north to Rosyth to be broken up, she stopped off to say a poignant farewell to the river of her birth.