Construction on the ship started in December of 1930 at the John Brown & Company Shipyard on the River Clyde within Scotland. Construction was briefly paused due to struggles caused by the Great Depression however thanks to negotiations with the British Government, a loan was granted to finish her construction. Part of the conditions to obtain the loan included White Star Line (this company had famously built the Titanic) merging with Cunard Lines (White Star Line’s primary rival) to which both companies agreed.
Before Queen Mary got her name, she was known only as “Hull No. 534”. There is much debate over her name as apparently Cunard wanted to stick to their tradition of naming ships ending with “ia” and had plans to name her Victoria. White Star Line also had a tradition of naming ships but ending with “ic”. The ship was allegedly going to be named Victoria however company representatives had asked King George V if they could name the ship after his wife to which he is reported as having said “She would be delighted”.
RMS Queen Mary was launched on September 26th, 1934 after about 3 and a half years of construction. She was built for a price consisting of about 3.5 million pounds ($17.5m during the era) ($354m as of 2021).
The RMS Queen Mary, named after Mary of Teck (the wife of King George V), was a British ocean liner that had served the Cunard-White Star Line for 32 years, mostly operating the North Atlantic routes. She won the Blue Riband (a maritime award for fastest Atlantic crossings) twice.
She wasn’t as luxurious as, say, the Titanic and her rivals such as French ocean liner SS Normandie were critically much more modern and comfortable than her however that didn’t stop her from being as successful as she was. Her interior was designed by the Bromsgrove Guild and despite the criticisms, people seemed to enjoy what complacencies she could provide. Among these contentments were two indoor swimming pools, libraries, beauty salons, a music studio, telephones, a lecture hall and outdoor tennis.
During World War II, she was escorted by the battlecruiser HMS Hood on her way back to Southampton due to arising tensions and by the time she made it back to port war had been declared. In 1940, RMS Queen Mary and her sister ship (Queen Elizabeth) as well as the SS Normandie were all converted into troopships. She was painted grey and the color combined with her impressive speed earned her the nickname “Grey Ghost”, an eerie foreshadowing of the reputation she will develop later on in the topic of paranormal activity.
In 1942, Queen Mary was carrying a few thousand American soldiers to rendezvous with allied forces in Europe. During the voyage, she had accidently sliced through one of her escort ships, killing 239 people. She would not stop to save any survivors as she was under order to keep sailing due to the risk of U-Boat attacks. Her lead escort would eventually return to rescue the 99 survivors.