For any Glasgow business interested in the supply of marine lighting and equipment, the growth of the city and surrounding districts into a port handling 7,000,000 tons of merchandise a year by 1900 was a good start for the new century. The Kingston Dock, opened in 1867, had been followed by the Queens Dock in 1880 and the Princes Dock in 1900. The Rothesay Dock was to follow in 1907, the year in which the ‘RMS Lusitania’ steamed out of the Clyde on her maiden voyage after being launched from John Brown & Co’s Yard Number 367 on 7th June 1906.
With a gross tonnage of 31,550, 787 feet long and with a beam of 87 feet, ‘RMS Lusitania’ was briefly the world’s largest passenger ship. She was one of two ships commissioned by the The Cunard Line at a time of fierce competition for the North Atlantic trade and many of her electrical fittings and lighting were supplied by William McGeoch & Co along with her sister ship, the ‘RMS Mauretania’, launched a few months later.
Both ‘Lusitania and ‘Mauretania’ were fitted with revolutionary new turbine engines that enabled them to maintain a service speed of 25 knots. They were equipped with lifts, wireless telegraph and electric light, and provided 50% more passenger space than any other ship. In particular, the first class decks were noted for their sumptuous furnishings.
Whilst on a McGeoch family holiday on the Isle of Arran in the summer of 1907, young Andrew McGeoch, great grandson of the founding father, spotted ‘RMS Lusitania’ in the distance from Whiting Bay and that his father pointed out with some relish and pride that McGeoch had supplied most of her electrical fittings and lighting.
Tragically, on nearing the end of her 202nd trans-Atlantic crossing on Friday 7th May 1915, she was torpedoed by a German ‘U’ Boat 11 miles off the southern coast of Ireland and sank in just 18 minutes with the loss of 1,198 passengers and crew.
The archive photographs below shows ‘RMS Lusitania’ and various areas within it, all illuminated by electric light fittings designed and manufactured by William McGeoch & Co.
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