The Queen Mary Takes Me: A Tribute to Craig Anderson

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Blogging is a fascinating phenomenon. WordPress alone is said to be home to over 80 million posts a month, with authors busy hammering out articles on pretty much anything you can possibly imagine. I follow a small collection of diverse sites, all of which I thoroughly enjoy, even if I am guilty of being a bit light on leaving comments. There is however, one blog in particular, that has affected me more than most, and I wanted to write a short tribute to it, and more specifically, it’s author.

Being a collector of inter-war design and paraphernalia, I was delighted when I first stumbled across The Queen Mary Takes Me. Written by true romantic and British expat Craig Anderson, the site chronicles his search for original items from the RMS Queen Mary Cruise Liner in its pre-war heyday. In his own words…

 “The Queen Mary has special place in my heart, I proposed to my wife on board her and since then we’ve shared many important moments on board. Since we live far away from her we have found that collecting, restoring and sharing her furniture and fittings is our way of keeping her history alive and furthering her connection to anyone who loves and appreciates ocean liners, passenger ships and the Golden Age of Travel.”

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Craig & Shara Anderson

Most of the interior decor was stripped or covered over when the ship was requisitioned during the war. The exterior was painted grey, and the beautiful pieces of furniture, fabric, carpets, china, objet d’art, and general decor was stored, with some of it being sold off later. Since decommissioning in the late 1960’s, the ship has been used as a permanently moored hotel in Long Beach, California, and has in more recent years been restored back to its late 1930’s glory. Earlier refits however, had led to much of the now dated furniture, finding their way onto the market, to be ultimately scooped up by collectors like Craig.

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Third Class Lounge Table “In my eyes it is hands down the best table from Third Class”.

So long as there was clear provenance, Craig would apparently collect it. Each blog post updated the reader on the latest acquisition, with numerous photos of the piece in question, detailed research, and often period shots of it (or identical items) taken while on the ship, all delivered with an enthusiasm so infectious is practically leapt of the screen. Combined together, it showcased an expanding collection of museum quality pieces that I for one, drooled over the laptop screen at. I distinctly remember my own jubilation at a post relating to a curved veneer waste paper bin, desperate to find another I scoured the internet fruitlessly, seriously pondering the possibility of dabbling in 1930’s cruise liner memorabilia.

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Verandah Grill Vent Cover “art pieces in their own right”

Most bloggers are fairly erratic, with periods of inactivity often followed by a burst of posts. As such, I thought nothing of a gap in Craig’s articles, until an update was posted by his wife Shara in January 2016.

“Many people are aware that Craig Anderson was recently killed in a tragic work accident. 2015 should have been one of the best of our lives as we welcomed a baby boy to our family and we had worked hard towards some wonderful goals (on this blog, with the Queen Mary collection, and in our personal lives), instead it ended in heart break for me and our son as the person we loved the most the world was taken away.”

My limited vocabulary doesn’t even begin to provide me with the words to comment on this utterly tragic turn of events, it’s heartbreaking, he was just 33. I never met Craig, we exchanged a couple of messages, but I can’t help but feel we might of got on pretty darn well, sharing not just our appreciation of 1930’s design, but a love of classic cars (I discovered later) and similar aged children.

Earlier in this week I was researching a recently photographed house for the book I’m working on. The trail led me to the discovery that the original owner, one Captain Herbert Morgan, was a skipper with Cunard White Star. I doubt he piloted RMS Queen Mary, but who knows. I’d like to think Craig would have found this little piece of information to his liking.

I highly recommend you set aside some time to investigate the site soak up the collection, which Shara has vowed to continue with.

https://thequeenmarytakesme.wordpress.com/

I wish all the best to Shara, little Thomas, and all of his family.

 

Jumblesailing off into the blue…

There must be a million reasons to rejoice in the virtues of the British spring time, but one of my personal favorites is the return of good old fashioned boot sale. The anticipation of unearthing some genuine treasure for a few quid always gives me butterflies as the car squeaks and groans over the heavily ridged parking field. Of course 9 times out of 10 it never lives up to my expectations. We usually end up heading home glum and silent with perhaps some bananas and a blister pack of hearing aid batteries for the kids toys. Occasionally though, lady luck looks our way and we strike gold. Today was one of those days.
20160508_162717_resizedEven my 3 year old daughter was excited at the prospect of some new stuff. Her ‘Hello Kitty’ purse (containing about 27p) clutched close to her chest as she scampered off into the heaving sale. She took first blood with two Miffy the Rabbit books which dad forked out a round pound for. Then my wife unearthed a couple of small 1930s wade jugs. No chips or cracks, totally mint. “£5 for the two? Fair enough guv”. I quickly brought up the rear with a smart a-symmetric pressed pink glass tray for £1 (and a model Jaguar XJR-9 for 20p, but we’ll not go into that). 20160508_163014_resized

To be fair, there is always a selection of 1930s bits and bobs going at a decent sale. Glass, pottery, brown furniture & kitchenalia are easy to find if you keep your peepers open. Unfortunately we already have a house overflowing with the stuff, and as I don’t really ‘deal’ it’s always prudent to be a bit picky. Never the less, today my friends, I recon we done good!

…”It’s fun to shop at the YMCA”

Earlier in the week I found myself stumbling into the local YMCA shop on the way home from work. I occasionally do the charity shop rounds in the town centre when I’m in the mood. This usually results in a new paperback or the occasional bit of tat for the kids. On entering I had stocking fillers in mind.. but this was quickly put to the back of my mind when my eyes caught sight of this:

It’s a 1934 Stentorian Junior Type 38J ‘for use as a principle speaker’. Despite it’s somewhat disheveled appearance it clearly had to be mine. My wallet was swiftly unearthed from the bottom of my man-bag to close the deal.

What am I going to do with it? It’s still up for debate, but as the amplifier apparently no longer works I’m considering renovating the  veneer, replacing the fabric, carefully removing its inners and fitting a bluetooth speaker of some kind. Thus producing an attractive and useful bit of home audio. I’ve dabbled in this line before, creating a cabinet for the sky box out of a 1930 radiogram with pleasing results. For now it will probably reside in the workshop with a couple of other projects I’ll get around to in the New Year.

Lounge July 2013
Television sitting on an old radiogram hiding the sky box

Family Heirlooms

It’s not often you get the opportunity to add to your collection with pieces that have a genuine family connection, in fact it’s a first for me. As far as I’m aware, no one in my family has any particular affinity with home furnishings from the 30s and some even consider my fascination somewhat eccentric (dunno what they’re on about!). It therefor came as a huge surprise the receive an email from my uncle keen to hand down some pieces my grandparents had acquired new when they married in the 1930s.  I have fond memories of holidays spent as child staying with them in Devon. A huge garden to run around in and homemade shortbread and lemonade were always in abundance. Sadly they both died in 1990s and after 15 years in family custodianship, their old bungalow is up for sale and in need of emptying.

My Gran - Winnie Haines nee Chick, circa 1920s
My Gran – Winnie Haines nee Chick, circa 1920s

So we’ve just come back from a weekend near Sidmouth sifting for gold. The car was loaded with the usual toddler paraphernalia, so no room to bring back the gorgeous extending ‘magi-cube’ dining table and matching chairs this time. But we’ll head back with a van before completion. In the mean time I’m the proud new owner of lovely oak mounted frame-less mirror and a Grindley Cream Petal teapot. Now I’m going to spend some quality time hunting through my mums old photo albums looking for snaps in which they feature.

Grindley Cream Petal teapot
Grindley Cream Petal teapot

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