A tantalizing preview of a huge collection of ocean liner documents has gone on display in the Guildhall Library in the City of London.

This is the Newall Dunn Collection, which is thought to be one of the largest such collections of photographic and reference collections on merchant shipping.

During his lifetime Peter Newall became recognised as one of the world’s leading passenger shipping experts. After a career at British Airways he became a full time cruise journalist, lecturer and shipping historian. He wrote hundreds of articles and nine maritime history books including the definitive fleet histories of Cunard, Orient and Union-Castle Lines.

Collected by the author, and made up of his own collection and several others that he bought, the collection was gifted to the Guildhall Library last year, shortly after he died.

The library plans to spend the next few years conserving and recording the documents so they can be accessed by researchers, but they’ve also put out a few items on display in a new exhibition.

The exhibition is a selection of documents, photographs and magazines that show off the golden age of the luxury of ocean travel before the aircraft came along to destroy it.

Like most displays of ocean liners, they are misty eyed for the luxury of travel, but often overlook how the majority of people travelled in these ships — in 3rd class down below in very different surroundings.

It can be hoped that a future exhibition will focus on these travellers, as they were after all the main revenue for the ocean liners – not the champagne drinking handful of 1st class passengers upstairs.

The exhibition, Merchant Navy Treasures: An Introduction to the Newall Dunn Collection is open Mon-Fri and selected Saturdays until 24th May 2019. Entry is free.


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