|Cunard Chairman David Dingle (far right) and Sir Samuel Cunard descendants.|
From left-to-right: Tom Cunard Charrington, Antonia Young, Veldes Raison, Laura Grimond, Giles Charrington and Teresa Tildon
David Dingle, Chairman of Cunard, was joined by several of Sir Samuel’s descendents including four of his great great grandchildren: Tom Charrington, Giles Charrington, Antonia Young and Teresa Tildon. Their Mother, Barbara Cunard, was the fourth daughter of Cyril Grant Cunard, who was a son of William Cunard. He was one of Sir Samuel’s nine children. So William was their great grandfather and Sir Samuel their great great grandfather.
Cunard has had Sir Samuel’s final resting place at Brompton Cemetery in London refurbished in this anniversary year for the company.
Prior to each laying a wreath both David Dingle and Tom Charrington paid tribute to the man who changed the face of ocean travel forever.
“We are here today to celebrate, exactly 150 years after his death, the achievements of one of the great Victorian entrepreneurs. Like Brunel, Stephenson, Wedgwood and Bazalgette, what he created has had an incalculable impact on the lives of millions. The success of Samuel Cunard in establishing the first regular steamship service across the Atlantic was not only of monumental significance at the time, but it has reverberated down the years. It has impacted on British history, on American history, on Canadian history, on European history, on maritime history and on military history.
“Cunard's triumph was to create a fast, reliable and safe steamship service linking the Old World and the New. Although specifically to ensure the speedy and precise delivery of the mails, the service was, as The Times reported in 1875, "like a hand stretched out from England to invite America to assume its proper place in the comity of nations."
“...the existence of Cunard Line has assuredly affected so much else in the world. Without it, there would have been no horses to charge with the Light Brigade at Crimea; without it, there would have been no survivors from Titanic; without it, and its unsurpassable role in bringing American GIs to Europe whole divisions at a time, D Day would inevitably have been postponed and countless thousands in Europe would have died; and without it, two and a half million of Europe would not have had the opportunity to find prosperity in the New World."
“In my first year at University I thought, as one did when young, that I would never be ill, so I did not register with a National Health doctor. I caught chicken pox, not life threatening, but irritating and not good for sex appeal, so a doctor was called and having prescribed whatever was necessary asked me for my full names. When I told him my name was Thomas Cunard Charrington he said “That’s two very famous names that will be two pounds”. So until recently I have usually only mentioned one name.
“Samuel was not just a great great grandfather but also a truly great man. When he was a boy of ten he witnessed a disaster when a frigate (La Tribune) went aground in a storm on Thrum Cap Shoals and 240 people were drowned. Partly because of that, safety was always his priority with his ships, rather than speed. He learned from an early age about how to make money, trading as a small boy down in the harbour at cargo auctions and taking his profits back in a sock he had knitted himself while driving their cows up to his father’s pasture. His motto was “By Perseverance” and he was devoid of bombast and bravado, of self promotion and conceit.”
Sir Samuel Cunard
The oddest thing about the founding of Cunard in 1839 is that the company was ever formed by a man like Samuel Cunard at all. The gamble, the challenge, the uncertainty, the sheer modernity of it all would have sat well with a man like Brunel, but not with Samuel Cunard.
To begin with, a Canadian of American parentage does not seem the classic candidate to establish a British icon. And a man so unremittingly prudent, conservative, cautious, austere – and, let’s face it, old – equally doesn’t seem the man to take such huge economic risks or to push the edges of known technology that the founding of the company entailed.
By the time he came to set up the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, as Cunard’s company was originally known, Samuel Cunard was already a prosperous businessman and significant figure in Nova Scotia. He was comfortably settled, with his children around him, a comfortable retirement in the cosy glow of local esteem seemed to lie ahead rather than the creation of a commercial revolution.
Cunard gambled everything he had to set up, 3,000 miles from home, a highly speculative and enormously risky venture uncomfortably close to the forefront of known technology. To do it, he even uprooted himself from his native Nova Scotia and took up residence in London. It all seems markedly out of character with everything he’d done before, and with everything he did afterwards when the company settled down to be a singularly cautious and conservative company in the mould of the founder.
# # #About Cunard Line
Cunard Line, operator of the luxury ocean liners Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, has long been synonymous with the quest for new discoveries and the epitome of British refinement since the company's first paddle-wheeled steamer, Britannia, crossed the Atlantic in 1840. Cunard voyages bring together like-minded travellers who seek a civilised adventure and relish the Cunard hallmarks of impeccable White Star Service, gourmet dining and world-class entertainment. Today, Cunard offers the only regularly scheduled trans-Atlantic liner service and continues the legacy of world cruising which it began in 1922.
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