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The luxurious passenger liner and sister ship to the Mauretania gives Fishguard global credibility upon its first arrival to the port in 1909.

In 1909, Fishguard became a port of call for the Lusitania on eastbound transatlantic crossings between Liverpool and New York. Not only had Fishguard brought the United Kingdom and the United States closer together, but it also demonstrated the ‘magnificent position and the potentialities of Fishguard as a Transatlantic port’, according to a 1909 newspaper article in The Tenby Observer.

The RMS Lusitania of the Cunard line was primarily built as a passenger ship to compete with German shipping lines during a lucrative time of transatlantic passenger trade. However, once completed in 1907, the Lusitania was the largest and fastest ship in the world. On 11 October 1907, the Lusitania won the ‘Blue Riband’ for the fastest Atlantic crossing, before being surpassed by her sister ship, the Mauretania, months later.

The Lusitania first arrived in Fishguard in the afternoon of Monday, 6 September 1909. A remarkable 1,000 bags of mails, 30 tons of baggage and approximately 200 passengers disembarked at Fishguard. Among the passengers was Sir Joseph Lawrence, a member of parliament for the Conservative Party between 1901 and 1906, who described the venture as a ‘most enjoyable voyage’. According to The Cardiff Times, the efficiency of Fishguard’s port workers were unrivalled with the full transfer taking place ‘within 30 minutes.’ The port was further praised highly by The Tenby Observer: ‘everything and everybody at Fishguard struck the high-pitched note of activity and precision. Nothing was left to chance. That was obvious even in the smallest detail. The disembarking operations were carried out like clockwork – without fuss or delay.’

The interior of the Lusitania was arguably the most luxurious and comfortable in the world. Designed by James Millar of Scotland, the interior had a bright, open-spaced ambiance. The white plastered finish differed from the Mauretania’s dark, wood panelled interior. Despite being of top class, passengers of all classes were welcome aboard, as seen in Fishguard when 160 first-, 54 second-, and 10 third-class passengers disembarked.

Five years after the first landing in Fishguard, the Lusitania was the last transatlantic liner ever to call at the port on 14 September, 1914. Competition from other ports and continuous rising costs challenged Fishguard’s future. Whilst it was hoped that transatlantic trade via Fishguard could be resumed after the war, it was not to be.

Despite warnings, the Lusitania set out on her last voyage on 1 May, 1915. During this time of the First World War, Germany had declared the North Atlantic Ocean a war zone and had advised Americans not to sail on the Lusitania across it. On 7 May, the ship was torpedoed 11 miles off the Irish coast by a German U-boat. It took just 18 minutes for the Lusitania to sink, killing 1,198 passengers. The sinking caused great protest from the United States and set in motion a chain of reactions which may have influenced their decision to join the war.

- The Lusitania was able to travel at a speed of 25 knots (or 29mph) due to the 25 Scotch boilers and 4 triple blade propellers.

- Amongst a lounge, reading and writing room, smoking room and veranda café, the first-class dining saloon was the grandest of the Lusitania’s public rooms.

- Measuring 787 feet long and 60 feet high, the 9-decked Lusitania was easily the largest ship in the world at the time.

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