Cunard Passenger Lists


Ken Blasbery sent this story in after reading an interesting Titanic discussion on the Metal Type forum.

Says Ken: “I have written this piece in answer to forum discussions about the stationery aboard the Titanic, which was produced in the Thermographic Process by the Liverpool Printing and Stationery Company, so many years before I joined as a Comp.

I JOINED the company as a Compositor mid way through the 1950s and was involved with House Magazines which were produced for several large companies, including Tate & Lyle Ltd, The Gas Board and Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Ltd.

On several days I was without work but was put on to the make up of the Cunard Passenger list Books. These books started several weeks before the ship sailed. The two “Queens” were the most popular ships and work would start as soon as the ship had left Southampton, for the next voyage.

To start the proceedings, we would receive lists of passenger names in strict Alphabetical order to the third letter of the alphabet. There would be families, who would appear in order of father, mother, eldest male, eldest female and then the rest of the family. Other passengers would be in order of their surname.

When sufficient numbers of names were set, they were printed on double Royal sheets and sent to the booking office at Cunard building, Pier Head. They were checked and returned with additions to be set and inserted. When the deadline for the sailing arrived, the list became known as the Purser’s list. We also had to print 25 copies on Airmail paper which were sent Air Mail to the FBI at Staten Island one week before the ship sailed, so that their immigration officers knew in advance who was booked on the ship.

The individual books were made up in a very strict way. First class copies only had one column per page, but third and steerage had two columns to save paper.

The books were sent by Red Star Parcels to Southampton or Greenock, with the books for Liverpool sailings taken to the Cunard offices at the Pier Head.

When they were taken on board, they were given to the cabin stewards who had to lay them on the bed at a forty-five degree angle to the cabin door, so that the passenger could see their name on entering the cabin. This had to be completed by the stewards, two hours before the passengers embarked.

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