The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


It’s only a Ferry Boat

Jill and her husband Tony came on 28th April to give us a talk on her job as a Nursery Steward on Queen Mary and Franconia during the 1960’s. The talk was titled “It’s only a Ferry Boat”.

She would work from to She slept in a cabin with another person 10'x6' with no portholes. The only air came in through a vent which a stocking was put over and changed regularly to catch the dust.

In 1962 Jill looked after “First Class” passengers’ children to earn a bit of extra money. Her uniform consisted of a white dress and hat with a cream jacket with brass buttons. She held a ‘Members Contribution Books National Union of Seamen’ and a passport which was stamped each time she was in a different country.

The children had wooden toys to play with and sometimes there were as many as 20 children to one nurse.

She remembers looking after three children and being given a painting as an award. She still has this painting signed ‘G Hunt’ 1960. Jill remembers arriving in new York and seeing the Empire State Building which was the tallest then, and being ashore in 1963 when Kennedy was shot. She went to his temporary grave in Washington.

The Queen Mary ship was 12 decks high and sailed primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line. Built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank Scotland. After several years of decreased profits for Cunard Line, Queen Mary was officially retired from service in 1967. She sailed to the port of Long Beach California, USA where she remains permanently moored.

Jill also worked on the Franconia ship which was smaller that the Queen Mary. She worked on it for four years.

From 1963 to 1967 Franconia operated a reduced passenger service between the UK and Canada during the summer months, and spent the winter months cruising the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas. In 1967 the decision was made to withdraw her completely from transatlantic passenger service and after a refit she switched to permanent cruising service alternating between the Caribbean and the Atlantic Isles.

Jill brought along some pictures of these two ships which we all enjoyed looking at.

Priscilla Barlow

Festival Edition 2011

St George’s Ladies Group