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Cunard anniversary: ships played vital role in wars

All this week we are marking the 175th anniversary of Samuel Cunard coming to Britain to start his famous shipping company, now based in Southampton. Cunard has played a major role in wartime with its ships and liners being used to carry troops.

But the company has paid a high price with more than 40 being sunk in World War One and Two with the loss of thousands of members of crew. The company also lost a ship in the Falklands conflict of 1982 which was torpedoed and sunk with12 lives lost.

More than 600 crew went to the conflict on QE2 which carried thousands of troops.

In this report our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse talks to Tim Castle from Kent and Jacqui Hodgson from Hampshire who sailed to the South Atlantic.

We also hear from Cunard historian John Langley.

Collector has rare Cunard documents

It is exactly 175 years since Samuel Cunard first came to Britain to start his shipping line - and all this week we are marking the anniversary. Over the years the company has owned 250 of the most famous passenger ships ever built.

An army of enthusiasts have spend coutless hours - and money - collecting everything from old menus - and artefacts - from the ships. One of the biggest fans is Andrew Britton from Dorset.

Much of his film collection has never been seen before. Now it's being made public for the first time. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse has been taking a look.


Cunard celebrates 175th birthday

Exactly 175 years ago a Canadian arrived in Britain with what at the time seemed a novel idea....a regular ship to carry mail and passengers to America. It ended up as the most successful shipping company ever.

Samuel Cunard came to Britain in the summer of 1838 to set up a regular service across the Atlantic. A year later he won the first Government contract - worth £55,000 a year - to deliver the mail to Halifax in Canada and Boston in the USA.

And it was in July 1840 that a wooden paddle steamer called Britannia made the historic first crossing. All this week we will be looking back at the history of the Southampton-based company.

Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse talked to Bernard Webb, Queen Mary bell boy and John Langley, Cunard historian.

QE2 'not to be scrapped' say former owners

The QE2 is now moored in Dubai, her fate currently in doubt Credit: Kamran Jebreili/AP/Press Association Images

There had been reports on Christmas Eve that the liner, bought by Dubai investment firm Istithmar for around $100 million in 2007, was about to be sold to a Chinese firm for scrap metal. Cunard Line reacted to the claims on the company's Facebook page. They said:

"We have noted the recent article in the Daily Mail with reference to QE2. We remain in close contact with Dubai and can reassure you that to the very best of our knowledge this story is pure speculation - our best advice would be to ignore the story."


Cunard forced to shut online booking after emails error

Southampton-based Cunard was forced to shut its online booking system after personal details of 1,200 passengers were emailed out to people who are registered with the company.

It is not known how many people were sent the information but it meant names, addresses and booking details were mailed out in error. The issue earlier has just been revealed. Cunard spokeswoman Jackie Chase confirmed the mishap.

Cunard can confirm that an e-mail was sent in error to some guests containing details relating to other guests' bookings. We took swift action to close down the check-in system, Voyage Personalizer, until we are able to re-issue new secure log-in details to all affected guests. We are very sorry if this error has caused our guests any concern and we would like to reassure them that the issue has been dealt with and we are in the process of contacting relevant guests with new, secure log-in."

– Jackie Chase, Cunard spokeswoman

Ports fear Liverpool rivals

Jobs could go - and millions of pounds could be lost from the economy. That's the fear tonight after the Government announced Southampton and Dover's biggest rivals could take a huge slice of the country's cruise trade.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning said Liverpool could become a base for cruise ships - if they handed back part of a public subsidy paid for by taxpayers.

This year, 400 cruise ships are expected to call at Southampton with one million passengers passing through the port. Each ship's visit is worth £2.5m to the local economy.

The loss of some of the business to Liverpool could cost Southampton £80m a year, as Phil Hornby explains.

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