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James Hawkins

The Last Great Cruise of The Queen Mary


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Story by: The Queen Mary Archivist

Date added: 5 Oct 2017

As reported by Bill Duncan :
There is no ‘Long John Silver’ aboard the Queen Mary on her retirement cruise, but Jim Hawkins is aboard.
In fact, Jim Hawkins is one of the most important crewmen on the Queen Mary. Without him, neither passengers nor crew would know what to order to eat, where to go for events, or what's going on in the world beyond the 81,237 ton liner.
Hawkins is the ship's chief printer.
He runs the print shop aboard the Queen - a shop equipped to put out a daily newspaper, print breakfast, lunch and dinner menus daily, daily program of events plus any other printing orders.
Hawkins has spent 40 years as a ship's printer but has been aboard the Queen Mary only one year. "The company wanted to beach me for this voyage" the 61-year-old seafarer said "but I wouldn't have it. I wouldn't have liked to miss this trip, taking the Mary to her new home." Hawkins began his career in his native Southampton as a printer's devil with a newspaper. After his apprenticeship, he became a seagoing printer. He served with the White Star Line until the company merged with Cunard at the time Queen Mary was being built in 1935. During World War II he served with the Union Castle merchant fleet as a ship's printer, but as a side-line he tossed lead in another manner - he was loader on the guns of armed merchant ships.

In all his years at sea, he has never seen anything more in demand than for items that have a picture of or just the title ‘Queen Mary’ printed on it. In a few weeks after they went on sale, Hawkins and the three printers who work with him, sold out of Queen Mary Christmas cards. "The request for souvenir items has been fantastic, but it blends with the situation. Everyone is sentimental over this ship and wants a little remembrance of her."

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