Build

Once the concept for the first of the new express liners was decided, Cunard invited tenders for the build of the new ship. The contract was won by the John Brown shipyard on the Clyde in Scotland, the yard that had built both the Lusitania and Aquitania. On 1 December 1930 construction began, with the laying of the keel of yard number 534. Initially construction continued ahead of schedule. However, Britain entered a period of deep economic depression and Cunard effectively ran out of money. Work officially ceased on 11 December 1931, leaving the shipyard's thousands of workers without work. For over two years the situation continued until Government intervention provided a solution, of sorts. A complicated arrangement, whereby £3 million was provided for the completion of the ship, a further £1.5 million for company capital, and a £5 million loan for the construction of the second liner, saw Cunard merge with the White Star Line. The White Star Line was in an even more perilous financial state, offered for sale by a virtually bankrupt parent company, and the merger provided the Government with a solution for these two problematic companies.