Liverpool History Society Questions

A selection of Liverpool history questions submitted to the Liverpool History Society

Printers at Cunard


I’m interested in the history of printing and printers at Cunard – I know there were print workshops on their ships, but I think there was also one based in Liverpool. My understanding is that they would have printed covers of menus etc there for use on the ships, and then the actual menu for the day would be printed on board ship. Do you know anything about the Liverpool based print workshop, or where I might find information? I wonder does anyone have memories about their time working there?



13/02/2011 - Posted by | Printers at Cunard | , , ,


  1. Hello,

    I do know the Liverpool Printing & Stationery Co. Ltd undertook prnting of Cunard`s cabin plan of accommodation on quadruple screw turbine steamer Queen Mary in 1936.



    Liverpool History Socety

    Comment by Rob Ainsworth | 14/02/2011 | Reply


    Wolverton has been linked with the printing industry since 1878 when McCorquodales built premises in the town. The firm specialised in registered envelope manufacture, but undertook many other government and security printing contracts. However the history of the company commenced in 1841 George McCorquodale opened a stationers shop in Liverpool which became the Liverpool Printing and Stationery Company Ltd. The company prospered and five years later George opened the first McCorquodale printing works at Newton le Willows in Lancashire, specialising in providing a service to the ever expanding railway network.

    McCorquodales went from strength to strength and further factories were opened in London and Glasgow in the 1870s.

    The railway town of Wolverton had a labour problem for although the men were all gainfully employed in the railway works, their daughters remained unemployed. Sir Richard Moon, Chairman of the London & North Western Railway had an idea for solving the problem and contacted his friend George McCorquodale and suggested that he build a printing works in the town. George thought it an admirable suggestion and in 1878 he opened his registered envelope factory – success was immediate. The works rapidly increased in size and diversified into printing books, forms and commercial stationery.

    By 1886 McCorquodales of Wolverton was known as one of the finest printing factories in the country and employed 120 year women and 20 men. Most of the girls started work at the age 13 or 14 and were normally employed until they married. Girls were encouraged to remain in the factory as long as possible and a £10 wedding grant was given to those who had completed 10 years service. Until 1909 staff worked a 54 hour week starting at 6am with a half day on Saturday. The company were also quick to provide the best welfare and working facilities in the area, and the staff were provided with dining, reading and recreation rooms. A Good Samaritan Society was started and pension funds paid for holidays and service bonuses all made for a happy company.

    Comment by Rob Ainsworth | 14/02/2011 | Reply

  3. Hello

    Most liners had their own print shop. In the 1950s, on each day of the crossing, the Queen Mary’s printers delivered 18,000 menus as well as The Ocean Times newspaper and the programme of events for each class of passenger.


    Liverpool History Sciety

    Comment by Rob Ainsworth | 14/02/2011 | Reply

  4. Hello,
    By chance I entered your most interesting site. I am a complete “novice” on computers so am at a loss as to how best to respond correctly to two of your items.
    If you find it interesting I can reply to “Printers at Cunard” and “Malone Paper Co.”

    “Printers at Cunard”
    Between 1953 and 1966 I worked for Charles Birchall and Sons Ltd in James Street. They were high class printers and Publishers (they published the shipping paper “The journal of Commerce”) and The Cunard Line was among one of their many customers. One of the prestige jobs was the production of blank menu cards for their liners. Printed on high quality paper the work consisted of many subjects from reproductions of old masters to landscapes. They were collectors items. These blank menu cards were then overprinted on a daily basis, giving the daily menu, by the ships printers.

    “Malone Paper Co”

    The correct name was W.F. Malone & Co Ltd. They were based in School Lane, between The Bluecoat and Paradise Street. I remember that you went downstairs to order paper but they may have occupied the whole building. Mrs Malone was in charge. I lost touch in 1966 so have no idea if they moved elsewhere.

    Hope this may be of some interest and apologise for my unprofessional contact with you.

    John Carruthers

    Comment by John Carruthers | 22/02/2011 | Reply

  5. Hi Rob,

    Just a very short email to say thanks for the really useful answers to my query re. cunard printers!

    Teresa Breathnach

    Comment by Teresa Breathnach | 14/03/2011 | Reply

  6. Hi John,

    This information is really useful to me, and it would be great if I could learn more from you about your time at Charles Birchall. Would you be open to this? I could give you my email address if so.

    Many Thanks


    Comment by Teresa Breathnach | 15/03/2011 | Reply

  7. The Printers on all Cunard vessels were, until 1990 represented by the Liverpool branch of the National Graphical Association, which was at that time based at Graphic House, Duke Street, Liverpool. The NGA has since been absorbed into Unite the union through various other incarnations and is presently situated in the former TGWU Transport House in Islington. If you contact them I’m sure that they’ll have some information that may be of help.

    Comment by Alan | 01/05/2011 | Reply

  8. Only just came across your very interesting blog so my comments are probably out of date. I served my apprenticeship as a hand compositor with the Liverpool Printing & Stationery Co. Ltd. from 1954 to 1960. We did a lot of work for Cunard including posters (offset-litho and direct litho), stationery, log books, menu card fronts, commemorative menus for special days etc. One of the major contracts held by the company was for the printing of passenger lists to meet Board of Trade requirements. These lists which indicated cabin numbers were also used by pursers and cabin staff. The cabin numbers were removed and the lists turned into souvenir booklets for the passengers. The 1959 Printers strike saw the loss of the passenger list contract as Cunard were forced to produce them in-house.

    Many of the journeyman I worked with had experience of working as ships printers.

    Comment by Liverpool History Society Questions | 13/01/2012 | Reply

  9. According to the new Titanic exhibition at the Maritime Museum, Liverpool Printing and Stationery Co. Ltd. printed all the stationery, menu cards and log cards for the Titanic.

    Comment by Anon | 31/03/2012 | Reply

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