S.S. France, 1912


North Atlantic Liners 1899-1913

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Launched in 1910, France was the largest French liner yet built. Noted for her luxury and timekeeping she was popular with Americans but not well known in Britain as she sailed direct to New York. From 1922 a call at Plymouth picked up or landed passengers by tender. Large ships could not dock at Le Havre so she was a modest 23,666 tons. To entice rich Americans France had décor and furnishings modelled on royal palaces of the 18th century. In the main lounge royal blue carpets and opulent chairs whilst Louis Quatorze hung over the mantelpiece, the mirrors and cherubs copied from Versailles. The dining saloon served at small tables. 26 ft (8 m) high, its two floors were linked by a great staircase copied from the home of the Comte de Toulouse. France sailed at 20-21 knots to fit the schedule with 3 other vessels. Her reserve of power ensured regularity. In 1914 she laid up at Brest. Requisitioned, she was renamed France IV. Sent to the Dardanelles as an armed troopship she then spent 3 years as a hospital ship and finally a troop carrier. Resuming service in 1919 money was plentiful and France so sought after that her cabins were bid for. Her great deluxe stateroom was let for up to 300,000 francs, while the officers let their cabins to passengers and slept in the hospital. Converted to oil she was modernized and offered 3rd class for middle-class Americans and returning Europeans wishing to visit Europe. Her last sailing in 1932 led to her laying up in Brest before scrapping at Dunkirk. The launch of the new France at St Nazaire in May 1960 50 years after he own launch added special interest to the previous ship of that name.

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Dimensions 48.5 × 23 cm