A launch is always a great occasion for a shipyard, and one of the biggest in the 1950s was that of the 25,516-ton liner Empress of Britain at Fairfield's. Built for the Canadian Pacific Steamship Co, she was launched by Queen Elizabeth in 1955 as the third ship to carry the name for the company, and its first new liner after the end of the Second World War.
Empress of Britain was the first fully air conditioned liner to be built in the United Kingdom and her streamlined, graceful, low silhouette gave her a look that was advanced for her time. Her hull was strengthened against ice and had a greater than usual amount of welded plates in combination with rivets. She entered service on the North Atlantic route in 1956, providing a regular service from Liverpool and Greenock to Quebec and Montreal.
Canadian Pacific sold the ship in 1964 due to the ever-growing popularity of air travel, but Empress of Britain has survived several changes of name and ownership. In 2004 she continues to sail as the cruise liner Topaz, under a long-term charter agreement with the Japanese-based Peace Boat organization. She is a rare survivor of the great post-war British shipbuilding era.
Reference: Mitchell Library, G 623.809 FAI
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning
air conditioning, Canadian Pacific Steamship Co, cranes, cruise ships, Empress of Britain, Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co, launch ceremonies, liners, passenger ships, Peace Boat, River Clyde, ship launches, shipbuilding, shipyards, Topaz