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Vintage Brochure - Cunard Line - R.M.S. Franconia and Laconia (1912)


This extremely rare brochure provides a remarkable record of these two short-lived steamships that brought thousands of immigrants from Liverpool to Boston from 1912 to 1916. The Laconia was torpedoed and sunk by the German Submarine U-50 on 25 February 1917; and, the Franconia was torpedoed and sunk by German Submarine UB-47 on 4 October 1916.

The R.M.S. Franconia and Laconia

Photo 2: The Cunard New Twin-Screw Steamers R.M.S. FRANCONIA and LACONIA.

The largest and finest steamers in the Boston Service.

Corridor on "A" Deck

Photo 5: Corridor on "A" Deck

The Franconia and Laconia, constructed at Wallsend-on-Tyne by the well-known firm of Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd , have been built for the Liverpool and Boston service during the summer and for the New York and Mediterranean service in the winter and early spring season.

Though not so large in point of gross tonnage, nor built with the object of attaining the unrivalled speed of the Express Cunarders Lusitania and Mauretania, the Franconia and Laconia embody features—especially in regard to their passenger accommodation-that place them in the very front rank of modern liners.

The launching ceremony of the Laconia assumed quite an international character in that it was performed by Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, wife of the American Ambassador in London, while the word Laconia, in addition to its Grecian associations, is an old name for part of New Hampshire, U.S.A., in which State is also situated the town of Laconia.

Franconia Notch, U.S.A.

Photo 3: Franconia Notch, U.S.A.

The origin of the name of the Franconia is also interesting. Franconia was a loosely connected aggregate of districts and territories lying chiefly within the basins of the Rhine, the Main, and the Neckar, the boundaries of which varied at different periods of its history. The name is also perpetuated in Franconia Notch, a beautiful suburb in New Hampshire, U.S.A.

Marconi Wireless, Watertight Compartments and Anti-Rolling Tanks

The Franconia and Laconia are equipped with the Marconi Wireless System and the Submarine Signalling Apparatus, while the body of each of the ships is divided into a number of watertight compartments. Their design, together with their bilge keels, ensures that steadiness and seaworthiness in all kinds of weather for which Cunard steamers are noted. In the case of the Laconia, Herr Frahm's anti-rolling tanks have also been fitted.

First Cabin Accommodations

In the internal arrangements as well as in graceful design the Laconia is similar in all respects to the Franconia. She has equally spacious accommodation, broad promenades, well ventilated and heated cabins, in fact all those qualities that ensure her being classed with the Franconia as one of the most successful and popular of the great ships of the sea.

The style of the decoration of the interior of the steamers is what is known in America as "Colonial," arid in Great Britain as " Georgian," and the general effect is a singular refinement and delicacy very attractive to the eye.

Hall and Staircase

Photo 6: Hall and Staircase

The Entrance Hall of both ships, with its quiet, refined dignity, at once gives the key-note to the whole theme of decoration.

The walls, with their broad panels and delicate moulding, cased stanchions with fluted columns and carved caps, are most imposing, while the large windows of the deck house, the light from which is augmented by the oval dome, give a charmingly bright and cheerful appearance. The staircase is in mahogany, with a wrought iron balustrade.

The deck is covered with rubber cork tiling, Gobelin blue and ivory, in large panels, and comfortable wicker furniture is provided at convenient points.

First Class Library and Writing Room

Photo 7: First Class Library and Writing Room

Adjoining the Hall on " A " deck is the Library and Writing Room.

At the forward end of the room is a beautiful reproduction of an old Adam's chimneypiece. The ceiling is an excellent example of the plaster work of the period, and the electric lights have been arranged so as to diffuse the light evenly over the whole room.

The general colour scheme is vieux rose and French grey.

The furniture, copied from old Sheraton models, is in mahogany, inlaid with box, the cane seats and backs of the settees and chairs being fitted with loose cushions covered with rose velvet. A large number of convenient writing tables and chairs have been supplied, and last, though not least, an excellent library consisting of nearly one thousand volumes.

The Lounge in First Cabin

Photo 10: The Lounge in First Cabin

The Lounge, approached by broad corridors, is a large, lofty room, 56 ft. long by 42 ft. wide.

The walls are panelled with St. Domingo mahogany, relieved with columns and pilasters. At the forward end is the fireplace, over which is a framed print of Mrs. Robinson, after Romney. The room is well lighted with large fenestrated windows, draped with green juopé embroidered curtains.

The floor is covered with handsome rugs patterned from old Persian carpets. The centre of the room is fitted with comfortable settees and easy chairs, while around the sides are spring settees, upholstered with cream and green tapestry. The ceiling is delicately modelled plaster, with semi-circular dormer windows, which shed a pleasant light.

To meet the growing demand for dances at sea the floor of this room has been specially levelled and laid with polished Austrian oak.

Smoking Room in First Class Showing Eliptical Bay Window

Photo 14: Smoking Room in First Class Showing Eliptical Bay Window

Situated between the Lounge and Smoking Room is the Gymnasium, a good-sized, lofty and light mom, which will undoubtedly appeal to those seeking amusement and exercise. It is fitted with the most approved health-giving and physical culture appliances.

The Gymnasium

Photo 11: The Gymnasium

Fireplace in the Writing Room

Photo 8: Fireplace in the Writing Room

The fittings include electrically driven riding horses, for ladies or gentlemen, vibratory machine for massage treatment of the body, rowing machines, cycling machines, chest developers, wall bars, horizontal bars, vaulting bar, trapeze, hand rings, ground bars, boxing gloves, fencing sabres, foils, single sticks, dumb bells, Indian clubs, and punching balls.

For those who prefer deck games in the open, quoits, tennis and golf are provided.

A distinct departure has been made in the decoration of the First Class Smoking Rooms, which habitués will at once appreciate. The lighting is obtained by large fenestrated windows at the sides, and dormer windows in the roof. The walls are panelled with specially imported harewood. The veneer embodies curiously interesting figuring, which has been further embellished with delicate inlaid ornament.

At the after end of the rooms is a large elliptical bay window overlooking the Verandah Cafe, and the famous " Cunard Atlantic Highway." A series of columns and arcades tend to break up the sides of the rooms into bays, in which are fitted tables and comfortable spring settees upholstered in an old red tapestry. In the centre a large number of tables and chairs are arranged, while writing accommodation i3 also provided.

The Verandah Café

Photo 15: The Verandah Café

The Verandah Cafe, which has proved such an attraction upon the Lusitania and Mauretania, was introduced into the Boston service for the first time through the Franconia, and of course this popular innovation is maintained on the Laconia. It has proved one of the most attractive resorts on the ship, and, commanding as it does a splendid view of the Cunard Highway, is a popular rendezvous for passengers. It is situated at the after end of " A" Deck, well sheltered from the wind.

The walls have been treated to represent stone stucco and covered with green trellis, upon which ivy has been trained, while palms and other plants are arranged in jardinieres.

The furniture consists of loose wicker settees, arm chairs and tables.

Dining Saloon in First Class

Photo 18: Dining Saloon in First Class

The First Class Dining Saloons are magnificent and spacious apartments. The floor is covered with rubber-cork tiling, laid out in large panels to give the effect of a marble floor, so often found in houses of this period.

A State Room in First Class

Photo 9: A State Room in First Class

The ceiling, reproduced from some of the original Adam's models, together with the walls, is painted ivory-white, relieved by Gobelin blue and beige coverings and hangings.

The various bays around the rooms are set out with small tables for two, and large oval tables for eight in the centre—altogether, there are over forty.

There are four-legged arm chairs, which in ordinary weather will be loose, but they can be fastened to the deck should necessity arise.

To facilitate the serving of meals, the old-fashioned sideboards have been replaced by service tables at various points.

The upper portion of the Dining Saloons are surrounded by a balcony of wrought iron, the ceiling being executed in delicately modelled plaster. At the after end of each balcony is the minstrels' gallery.

Coverred Promenade in First Class

Photo 19: Coverred Promenade in First Class

The Gymnasium Fireplace, Smoking Room, First Class

Photos 12 and 13: The Gymnasium; Fireplace, Smoking Room, First Class

Not an unimportant feature of the Franconia and Laconia is the spacious and pleasant Promenades, open and covered, provided for the passengers.

The State Rooms, situated upon " B," "C" and "D" decks, are replete with every modern convenience.

They are large and commodious, fitted with wardrobes, dressing chest, and washstand with running water. Particular attention has been paid to the bedding, which is of the Marshall sanitary type.

In addition to the ordinary state rooms, there are some en suite state rooms, with private bath rooms, and a large number of single berth rooms.

The corridors are all covered with blue and white rubber-cork tiling.

The bath and lavatory accommodation is of the most approved type.

Two-Berth Room - First ClassFour-Berth Room - Second Cabin

Photos 20 and 28: Two-Berth Room - First Class; Four-Berth Room - Second Cabin

Second Cabin Accommodations

In the Franconia and Laconia the requirements and comfort of Second Cabin passengers have received special attention. In modelling the part of these splendid new vessels reserved for them, nothing has been overlooked in the way of spaciousness of both the public and private rooms, and what is also very important, the ventilation arrangements ensure plenty of fresh air.

Drawing Room, Second Cabin

Photo 22: Drawing Room, Second Cabin

The Second Cabin Drawing Room on both ships is treated in a simple Adam's Colonial style, with white panels. The carpets and coverings are a " veiue rose," which gives a broad and cheerful aspect to the room.

A series of bays are arranged furnished with comfortable upholstered seats. There are also writing tables and arm chairs, and an extensive library.

Dining Saloon, Second Cabin

Photo 23: Dining Saloon, Second Cabin

The decoration in the Second Cabin Dining Rooms is very similar in character to that of the First Class, though, of course, not quite so elaborate. The ceilings have been levelled down so as to obtain a wide and broad effect. The bulkheads are treated with panelling, and the pilasters painted white.

The decks are covered with rubber-cork tiling arranged in broad, strong panels, which give a very similar appearance to the tiling of the First Class Saloons.

Service tables are arranged at various advantageous points in the rooms with a view to facilitating the service, and comfortable revolving chairs have been provided for the passengers.

Smoking Room, Second Cabin

Photo 26: Smoking Room, Second Cabin

A Corner of the Dining Saloon, Second CabinState Room, Second Cabin

Photos 24 and 25: A Corner of the Dining Saloon, Second Cabin and State Room, Second Cabin

The Second Cabin Smoking Room is at the after end of the vessels, and is always undoubtedly greatly appreciated by its users. The panelling is of a very fine figured walnut. The room is well lighted by a lantern light and also by square windows.

A series of bays are arranged round the room, with settees upholstered in green moquette, which harmonises very well with the walnut woodwork. Comfortable chairs and tables are provided for card-players.

The Staterooms are fitted in a somewhat similar manner to the First Class, and are arranged in two, three and four-berthed rooms. Good wardrobe accommodation, with the necessary toilet requisites, will be found in each Stateroom, while another point of considerable importance is the provision of excellent ventilation.

Covered Promenade, Second Cabin

Photo 27: Covered Promenade, Second Cabin

Not the least of the attractions of the Second Cabin is the very adequate deck space provided. There is a lengthy covered-in promenade, while in addition there is also a large open space.

Third Class / Steerage Accommodations

In the construction of the Franconia and Laconia the comfort of the Third Class passenger has not by any means been overlooked; in fact, special attention has been paid to this department of the ships. The Third Class accommodation no longer consists of what might be called large dormitories.

Four-Berth Room in Third Class / Steerage

Photo 34: Four-Berth Room in Third Class / Steerage

Passengers are now allotted enclosed cabins with berths of modern type for two or four persons, while there are also a number of six-berthed rooms for the use of families. These cabins are all lighted by electricity, and the light can be switched on or off as required by the occupants. In addition to a washstand the rooms are also provided with a mirror, towels, and a plentiful supply of other toilet requisites.

Dining Room, Third Class / Steerage

Photo 30: Dining Room, Third Class / Steerage

The principal of the public rooms is the Dining Saloon, which is fitted with revolving chairs and situated amidships on " F deck. This is an exceedingly spacious and well-lighted apartment, and extends the whole width of the ship.

There are also two smaller Dining Rooms on each ship adjoining the main Saloon. These rooms are conveniently situated near the Third Class kitchen, which is unusually large, and is probably the largest afloat for Third Class passengers.

On " D " Deck is the Social Hall, which is one of the new features introduced on the Franconia. It is a bright and cheerful room.

Ladies' Room, Third Class / Steerage

Photo 31: Ladies' Room, Third Class / Steerage

The other public rooms on the steamers are the Smoking Room and Ladies' Room. Both these are situated on "E" Deck, and are comfortably furnished and well-lighted by several port holes.

Not the least of the Franconia and Laconia's attractions for Third Class passengers are the spacious Promenade Decks ; indeed, the space allotted for passengers in this class is particularly liberal. There is an Open Promenade on "C" Deck and a large Covered Promenade situated on " D Deck Both Promenades are within easy access of the other portions of the Third Class accommodation.

R.M.S. Franconia on the StocksTaking the Water - the Launch

Photos 1 and 4: R.M.S. Franconia on the Stocks; and, Taking the Water - the Launch

Where the Tea and Coffee is PreparedChef's Office

Photos 16 and 17: Where the Tea and Coffee is Prepared; Chef's Office

The DispensaryA Corner of the Kitchen

Photos 29 and 32: The Dispensary; A Corner of the Kitchen

The Marconi RoomEngine Room - Dynamos and Switchboard

Photos 21 and 33: The Marconi Wireless Room; Engine Room - Dynamos and Switchboard

Brochure Information

Documents and Information on the R.M.S. Laconia (I) Available at the Archives


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