|Kaiserin Auguste Victoria/Empress
of Scotland (I)
1906 - 1931
the Hamburg-Amerika Line put the Deutschland into service in 1900,
they soon learned an important lesson. In the quest for speed, comfort could
be lost. The Deutschland managed to win the Blue Riband, but her
powerful engines caused the ship to vibrate and shake when she was travelling
at high speeds. These vibrations were never remedied, and after only ten
years the Deutschland would be refitted as a cruise ship.
of the Deutschland led the Hamburg-Amerika Line’s managing director
Albert Ballin to make a decision. From then on, the company would no longer
emphasise speed, but rather size and comfort. The quest for the Blue Riband
was abandoned and left for Hamburg-Amerika’s rival Norddeutscher Lloyd.
the company’s new policy of size and comfort in mind, Albert Ballin ordered
new ships to be built. Two of these ships would be near-sisters, their
names intended as Amerika and Europa. The Amerika
was built by the Irish shipbuilders of Harland & Wolff in Belfast,
and the Europa was laid down as ship no. 264 at the German firm
Vulkan Shipyards of Stettin.
|The Kaiserin Auguste
Victoria in port.
29th 1905, the Europa was ready for her launch. But by
now it had been decided to change her name. It had been arranged so that
the Empress of Germany would launch the ship, and the company wanted to
honour the Empress by giving their newest vessel her name. The Empress
approved, and the ship was instead named Kaiserin Auguste Victoria.
The work of fitting her out would soon begin.
10th 1906, the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria left Hamburg
on her premier voyage across the North Atlantic. Her destination was New
York, and she would make stopovers at Dover and Cherbourg along the way.
The ship was the largest ship in the world, yet she would only keep that
title for a short time. In 1907, the Cunarder Lusitania entered
service and was the first ship to exceed 30,000 tons.
Auguste Victoria soon gained a reputation of being a very beautiful
ship, at least on the inside. Outwardly, she seemed almost piled up, as
if she had too many decks upon each other. She had a strange way of behaving
in rough seas – she never really completed her rolls and moved about in
the inside, the ship was known for her decorations. The man responsible
for the interior design of both the Amerika and the Kaiserin
Auguste Victoria was the French architect Charles Mewès. On
the Amerika and Kaiserin, Mewès introduced the à-la-carte
restaurant on the high seas. Inspired by the Ritz Carlton Hotel in London,
they offered an alternative to the first class dining saloon. But where
the meals in the dining saloon were included in the ticket-price, passengers
had to pay a special admittance fee when dining in the à-la-carte
restaurant. Ironically, this fee could cost the same as a one-way ticket
in third class.
|The innovative Ritz Carlton
Restaurant on board the Kaiserin
Auguste Victoria was soon a very popular ship among the travelling
public, most because of her luxurious interiors. Those who wanted to cross
the North Atlantic swiftly did not go on the Kaiserin or the Amerika.
Where the Deutschland had sped along at 22 knots, the two new ships
would never reach a speed over 18 knots.
next eight years, the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria continued to serve
the Hamburg-Amerika Line in a very satisfactory way. But in 1914, the first sparks
were ignited that would soon become the raging fire of World War I. No
immediate task could be found for the Kaiserin, and she was laid
up at Hamburg in August that year. She was eventually modified as a troopship,
in case she would suddenly be needed as such. But as time would have it,
the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria did not see any action for the entire
conflict, but remained in Hamburg for the duration of the war.
peace finally came in 1918, Germany and her allies had been defeated. The
ruthless peace treaty of Versailles in 1919 meant that nearly all of Germany’s
merchant ships were given to the victorious nations as reparations for
sunken and destroyed ships. This included the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria
as well, who was ceded to Great Britain where she arrived in March the
same year. She was soon chartered to the US Shipping Board to be used as
a repatriation ship for American troops.
when her repatriation work had come to an end, the Kaiserin Auguste
Victoria was chartered to the Cunard Line to fill a gap on the Liverpool-New
York run. On February 14th, she made her first sailing for Cunard
and she would remain in this service until the end of the year.
13th 1921, the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria was sold to
the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company and was renamed Empress
of Scotland. The
ship was in need of an overhaul, and for this purpose she was sent back
to her original builders in Stettin. The most notable change was that she
was now converted into an oil-burner. Other modifications increased her
tonnage with some 500 tons and her passenger accommodations were brought
down by about a thousand.
|The Empress of Scotland,
painted in familiar Candian Pacific-colours.
year, on January 22nd, the Empress of Scotland made her
maiden voyage for her new company on the route Southampton-New York. This
was not to be her regular trade, though. When she reached New York, the
Empress of Scotland was chartered to an American travel agency for
a cruise to the Mediterranean. When she returned she was placed on her
intended Southampton-Cherbourg-Quebec run. After a few crossings, Hamburg
was added to her service route.
the Empress of Scotland suffered her first major mishap when she
collided with the steamer SS Bonus in Hamburg. The damage sustained
was only superficial though, and was fixed with easy repairs.
went on, it became clear that the world was different than it had been
before the World War. To keep the Empress of Scotland up to date,
Canadian Pacific changed her passenger system in 1927 by adding a tourist
class. But this experiment was unsuccessful, and the Empress of Scotland
was now beginning to lose money for the company. Subsequently, she was
sold for scrap on December 2nd 1930, to the breakers of Hughes,
Bolckow & Co, Blyth for £43,000.
The arrival of the Empress
became a festive occasion for the people of Blyth. When the ship had been tied
up at Battleship Wharf on December 4th, she was opened up for public
viewing days during which her fittings would be auctioned off. A great many
people came to Blyth for the occasion, and during the following weekend nine pianos, settees
and easy chairs in French velvet, carpets, rugs, oil paintings and much more were sold to anxious buyers.
Volountary stewards sold item catalogues at
a shilling each, and these earnings went to the town hospital. At
one point, so many people were on board that the gangway had to be closed.
On the last public view day,
December 10th, the yard's skeleton crew on board the Empress of Scotland was
awakened by the cry of fire – the stern of the ship was ablaze. The Harbour Commissioner's fire float
was soon at the scene, along with the town's fire brigade. But the fire had already gotten a firm hold,
and soon flames 20 feet high were ravaging the Empress.
|The Empress burning in the
breaker's yard. (Picture courtesy of Trevor Harder)
Throughout the day, more than a hundred
firemen battled the raging fire, which apparently had started in the Tourist Class Barber's Shop. But
their efforts were in vain, and the tremendous heat caused much damage to the burning ship. By nightfall,
the mooring cables had burned through, and the ship's masts were swaying, causing fear that they might
topple onto the yard. At first, it was planned to tow the Empress into the river, but it
proved impossible to get the lines on board the burning hulk. Instead, she was scuttled where she lay.
Four days later, the fire had finally died
out completely. What was left was a twisted and burned-out hulk, sitting on the riverbed. Most of
the sold fittings had not been removed when the fire had started, and by now it was all destroyed.
All that was left to do was to start the demolition.
On December 15th, work
could finally begin. During the following months, the two funnels and part of the superstructure
were cut down. At the end of February, the Empress was refloated and pumped dry to allow for
further demolition. This lasted until May, at which point the Empress was to be towed to the
Tidal Dock for final cutting up. Unfortunately, there was still bad fortune in store.
On June 1th 1931, while
under tow, the weakened structure of the ship collapsed. The Empress of Scotland broke in two,
by now a sad shadow of her once glorious self. By October 1931, her last remains had been cut up.
|The Kaiserin Auguste Victoria/Empress
of Scotland - Specifications:
||705 feet (215.3 m)
||77 feet (23.5 m)
||24,581 gross tons originally,
25,037 gross tons when refitted as the Empress of Scotland.
||Steam quadruple expansion
engines turning two propellers.
||2,996 people originally,
1,897 people as the Empress of Scotland.