Author Topic: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors  (Read 44516 times)

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Online Cunarder Man

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #20 on: Jul 06, 2012, 01:13 PM »
Absolutely brilliant, a most interesting account!

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #21 on: Jul 06, 2012, 01:36 PM »
This is one of my favourite topics ever!

Feeling slightly sad, though, to see those beautiful powerful propellers, they most powerful in the world, destroyed. I'd have loved for one to be preserved somewhere, maybe clydebank.

Aye any of her propellors, other than the two still fitted to her, still in existence anywhere? (Cue start of another topic...)

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Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Paul Ableson

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #22 on: Jul 06, 2012, 04:58 PM »
to answer your question as to whether the other pair survived the answer is No . At Bremeharven the ship was completely gutted to the extent that her funnels were removed and she even had snow in the engine room in during the winter. If I remember correctly a company called Lipps removed the old ones and would have used the metal to produce new ones but not especially for the QE2. The old ones  were replaced with variable  pitch versions which were a development on the single cast ones . Unfortunately during the sea trials after the refit they caused a great deal of vibration and managed to shake themselves apart within the first few days.  The problem was sorted at great expense somewhere in the region of £1million pounds but don't hold me to that

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #23 on: Jul 06, 2012, 05:13 PM »
We spent months trying to figure out what to do with the metal after doing physical analysis of the material we discovered it was harder than stainless steel...

What kind of material was it? Where were they made?

And another question : would you or anyone else know whether QE2 has spares of her current propellers now and if so, where they are located?

After reading your description of how hard it was to move these propellers from their storage place, I imagine it would have been a ahrd job fitting them to QE2 as well, if ever they had been needed...

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #24 on: Jul 06, 2012, 06:21 PM »
I am so glad that you decided to join the Forum and share your story with us. 

You mentioned that the blades were cut in December 1987.  When were the first set of golf clubs ready to be shipped.
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank

Offline Paul Ableson

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #25 on: Jul 06, 2012, 08:52 PM »
Lynda . I dont want to ruin the story for everyone so you will have to wait a little while for the next episode just like a bed time story but better !!!

Isabelle , The material is called Superston 70 , an aluminium manganese Bronze thats why the clubs have a gold tinge to them . Developed by Stone Manganese Marine foundry in Birkenhead, Liverpool

I would expect that the spares for the current ship would have been scrapped as she is now berthed in Dubai and probably will never see her props turn again.  I have an original image of her props being fitted which I will post but health and safety would not be impressed

One prop we did move by road but thats another story which I'll get to

Offline Twynkle

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #26 on: Jul 07, 2012, 01:20 PM »
Hi Paul - and Welcome, too!

How good it is that you have joined us!

You really have an amazing story - and hopefully there'll be lots more installments!
It's not often that we meet someone who has had such great ideas about 'bits' of QE2,
and equally ingenious, has managed to put them into action!
I well remember as a child visiting a big steel-works in Shotton many times, and to understand what you planned - smelting etc, and in the non-metal-friendly world, your project may well have raised a few eyebrows in amazement!
I remember bits of her hull (post-refit?) being sold as paper-weights on ebay - that was interesting.
A set of "golf clubs", and with a special 'Q'? That's just brilliant!

PS - Just wondering, did you ever have the opportunity to try out your clubs on the sports deck 'bit' of QE2?

« Last Edit: Jul 07, 2012, 02:02 PM by Twynkle »

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #27 on: Jul 09, 2012, 08:53 PM »
It seems I can only load one image at a time so here is the pic of part of a blade being lowered into the furnace

Helpful guidance - you can add 8 images to one post.  To add the second and subsequent ones, click the small link to "more images".  As shown below.

Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #28 on: Jul 09, 2012, 10:15 PM »
There is also a fresh new album waiting for the photo story, here :

No photos there yet, but looking forward to them coming! From the album, it is easy to "quote" the pictures in the body of a posting in the Forum. More here :,2337.msg44303.html#msg44303

Offline Rod

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #29 on: Jul 09, 2012, 10:44 PM »
Superston 70...hmmmmmmmm. During the "half-life" refit, when the changed the original props for the spares. The originals were sitting alongside the drydock. Can't remember where it was but in Europe.
A couple of us decided that a chunk of the original prop...polished, mounted on a scrap of teak from the decking would be a good talking point. We "bribed" the rest of the watch to cover for us, by agreeing to get them a chunk,  and armed with hacksaws and walkie talkies we went to forage!!!!!

FUGEDDDD IT!!!!!! Hacksaws wouldnt touch this stuff. 
But interesting to note that rotating through the sea had taken 1 1/2" from the diameter!

Offline Paul Ableson

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs (the story continued...)
« Reply #30 on: Jul 11, 2012, 11:08 AM »
Within a couple of weeks of the press release and the story finding its way round the world not only did the golfing press world wide start to catch onto the fascination of the story of how do you turn a propeller weighing 32 tons into a golf club heads of only 300 grams.

Both Sandhill’s and Swilken’s phones , telex and fax machine were inundated on a daily basis for months on end with requests from members of the public wanting to put their name down for a set of the clubs even though we hadn't got a finished design never mind cast a head, some were avid golfers but many were collectors of marine memorabilia

Ian Bunch MD of Swilken was our chief designer and spent hundreds of hours coming up with designs. Initially some incorporated a propeller design in the back of the head and finally we agreed on the final design that had the curvature of the shape of a propeller blade.

The final design was submitted to Cunard for their approval and at the time we wanted to call them the QE2 Clubs but we were informed that would not be possible. That at the time was a major blow but we came up with the name Q2 and the relevant logo.

All through these development months the road from Leeds to St Andrews was a twice weekly commute and sometimes even 3 trips a week . I knew every cat’s eye on that road. The saving grace was that I had my own room in the Old Course Hotel and in the late 80"s the hotel changed hand so many times that I had a suite for £50.00 a night must be £750.00 a night now.

I diverse, back to the story. Once the finished designs were approved we then produced a clay model and then by lost wax process produced the moulds.  This took weeks running up to xmas 1987.

The day of the first casting was truly exciting as this was just like the birth of a new baby . The first multiple mould of the 7 iron was cast and we had to wait a number of hours before it had cooled down sufficiently enough for the outer casing to be broken open to see the result. It was a complete disaster the Superston 70 was perfect for making props but would not cast golf club heads in the traditional way. This was a major set back. Week after week we tried different methods in trying to cast the heads and still no luck. Fortunes were spent on new methods and technologies and eventually we succeeded but it was touch and go for quite a time.

The heads of all the irons and the putter are made from the propeller metal. We decided that the woods would be the traditional persimmon and when the whole set came together the final piece of the jigsaw was the packaging. At the time all the other brands put their clubs in cardboard boxes not for Q2's . Malcolm's early years were spent in the family timber business  of  L & D Ablesons in Leeds ,so his idea of a shipping crate for the packing was a natural choice.

We had decided early on that we were going to produce 7500 sets for world wide distribution 2500  for Uk and Europe 2500 for the Far East and Australia and 2500 for the USA.

We started marketing in the UK and issued a further press release to state they were ready and this time it was mayhem the world wanted them 1000 sets sold in the UK at £ 1000 a set within weeks and carried on selling out fast . Distributors all over Europe sold them out as fast as they could get their hands on them . The Love of the QE2 and the Q2 Golf Clubs was just magical.

To apply for a set of Q2's you required an official application form similar to a share offering . All was going well until one day while I was sat in the office in Swilken , I answered the phone and a gentleman with a Japanese accent announced who he was and stated he was from Mitsui London and was interested in talking to us about some sets for Japan . Briefly , Mitsui is the largest trading house in Japan with offices in just about every country of the world .
The conversation went something like this . Mr Suzuli, General Manager Mechandise , Mitsui Uk started the conversation by saying they have a client in Japan who was building a new golf course and for the 1000 members he wants to give them a set of Q2's , well my heart nearly punched its way through my chest . He them went onto say ,that the balance of the 1500 sets they wanted to sell on the open market. This did not seem real except to say that in the late 80's in Japan an apple was £5.00 . apartments and apartments  were  $10000 a sqm  so anything was possible.

After a week of exchanging messages it was concluded that a meeting was required to put this deal to bed . We arranged a conference suite in the Old Course Hotel we turned up 5 handed they arrived 16 handed , 11 of them had flown in from Japan for 24 hrs to seal the deal .  The largest export of golf equipment to Japan then and probably still today .

Mitsui's client JGPI corporation, wanted the very best for the Japanese sets so we produced them with Aldila Boron shafts the world finest and at the time. Finest English leather grips, solid oak shipping crate with a  tartan lining.  The shafts  were going to be a problem as Aldila only made limited quantities of them at the time and we needed 30000 shafts.  When I arrived at the Aldila factory to place the order , I must say they were very hospitable but who wouldn’t be when you are about hand over a cheque for in excess of £1.2m just for golf shafts.
The retail price for Japan £6300 per set.

The launch of the Q2 sets in Japan had to coincide with Mitsui chartering the QE2 for a month . The QE2 was to be moored in Yokohama harbour during April of 1989 where Mitsui was to sell corporate days to major corporations to take over the ship for a day or night for £250000 .  Dinner B & B was from £350.00  to £2000 per head and afternoon tea about £125.00 each.

We all knew they were onto a wining combination and with the right publicity they would sell but at £6200 we thought that was a bit much but they knew the Japanese market better than we ever could.

We had from October  1988 to April 1989 to prepare and ship the first consignments to Japan for the launch , the details which were to follow. During those 7 months both Mitsui and ourselves would fly back and forward from Japan to St Andrews to make sure that all was perfect.

During one meeting in September 1988 Mitsui asked if we could source them a couple of items required for clients , one was a submarine for a theme park , similar to the ones that Disney use in the states and  a Dinosaur Egg.  Our immediate response was “no problem “  Say yes and worry about it afterwards !! We'll find both for you. Before Jurassic Park was heard of I had the job of finding both. First stop MOD to ask if they had any spare subs , which was greeted with laughter . We eventually found one for them but there was a major problem, it would only dive once !!. A complete  Dinosaur Egg was going to a be a major challenge , if Mitsui couldn’t find one , what chance had I.. First stop Natural History Museum London, their response  was, we only have shell fragments . It may take you years to find one , I've got 6 months.

I did find an egg in Tuscon, Arizona , in January 89 and had it shipped across to the UK and authenticated by the late Dr Charig  at the Natural History Museum in London. A very rare find at the time  but I promised Mitsui I would find one as they couldn't and that would mean a great deal to our relationship.

The details of the Japanese launch were given to us in January of 1989 . The launch was to take place on board the QE2 moored in Yokohama harbour on March 30th 18989 to celebrate the 150 th Anniversary of the Port  of Yokohama. A gala dinner dance was arranged by Mitsui with 600 invited guests all members of leading Institutions, corporations and government officials. Our party of 5 which included Mr & Mrs Ian Bunch, Mr & Mrs Malcolm Ableson , Gerald Krazner the projects accountant and myself. We were all to stay on board ship for the night with another 85 guests only and a crew of hundreds.

Mitsui arranged for the British Ambassador to Japan Sir John Whitehead to present the no 1 Japanese sets of Q2's to the major or Yokohama City, Mr Michikazu Saigo,on board the QE2 in front of the 600 invited guests.
Trip To Japan for the Launch
Saturday 25th March 1989 is a day I will never forget .  The previous day I was photographed in Commercial Unions Offices in Leeds with our Dinosaur Egg , Originally Found in Aix en Prevence, South of France in the 1930’s . Its mother was a hypselosaurus. Estimated age 65 million years old Plus or minus 4 million years , doesn’t really compute . It was 20 cm diameter and weighed about 5kg We had the egg insured for £50,000 .
Picture this ; The only way to get the egg to Japan was for us to carry it as hand luggage as you will see with the pics to follow. There I am carrying our precious egg in its own wooden crate arriving at Leeds Bradford airport on our first leg to Heathrow.  First thing Saturday morning the staff a little sleepy .As I approached the security check the officer said “ What’s in the box sir” my response was “ Your not going to believe me , even though it’s the truth “ So what’s in the box sir  “ A dinosaur egg “  “ Of course sir , please come this way” .
As you can imagine we were turned over to say the least but they did see the funny side in the end.
Trying to pass through security at Heathrow followed the same pattern as Leeds .
We eventually boarded our flight to Osaka and with all the fuss at Heathrow the crew were aware that we were carrying something rather special so to please the flight attendants we  had the Dinosaur egg out on display with passengers and crew alike taking photos . The  11 hour flight passed in a blur.
This Dinosaur egg just so happened to be the only one in Japan at the time so there was going to be a great deal of interest but not what we expected.
On arrival at Osaka Airport we were escorted off the plane and as we started walking down the arrival concourse we saw TV , press and thought nothing of it . 
We didn’t pass through passport control or saw our luggage., which we thought was rather strange .We were ushered into a conference room which was packed with TV, Radio and photographers .
The gift of this Dinosaur Egg had caused so much interest for Mitsui that we managed to fill the papers and the TV every day for week that we were there with a mention along side of Mitsui and the QE2.
We didn’t realize what we had done with this gift but it cemented a business relationship, which is still spoken about today.

30th March 1989
The Night of the Gala Dinner on board the QE2 . We arrived early in the day from Osaka to Yokohama on the Bullet Train . We were shown to our cabins and dressed for Dinner .
Mitsui looked after us like royalty . The 600 invited guests ran the country from Banking , Trading , manufacturing , Shipping , Railways , Airlines . It truly was a who’s who of Japan night .
After dinner  ( pic of menu)  The British ambassador to Japan presented the No1 Japanese set to the major of Yokohama in frot of the illustrious audience .  That was it for Mitsui,  within 48hs of the presentation they had sold the 1500 sets  for almost £9.5 million.
That had created another problem for Mitsui and their partner JGPI , they had thousands of  requests for a single club as many couldn’t afford £6200.
I still had the American allocation of 2500 sets to produce and a whole propeller still lying in Southampton.
On return to the UK we formulated a plan to keep the Q2’s in the press. We had run competitions with various charities  for a full set of Q2’s, The boys Club with the late Frankie Vaughan , the British Deaf  Association where we had Cheryl Baker  ex Buzz Fizz present the winner with their set and a few with a number of the golfing monthly magazines . We even had one person sent in some 400 entries to try a win a set.
We had a number of sets stolen from  pro-shops around the country and even my own set no 10 was stolen which I adored.  That’s life !!
1990 arrived with great expectations the general market place was booming and a great deal to look forward to.
We decided that as St Andrews was our home town and the Open Championship would be held there that year that we should put on something rather special .
Mitsui and JGPI  were desperate for more Q2 products to satisfy the booming golf market in Japan . With memberships as high as £250,000 per annum and most mortals  not able to afford a round of golf which at any mediocre course could be as much as £250 a round then the pressure was on us to deliver.

We came up with the Q2 Putter Royal , traditionally shaped a beautifully packaged .  We made some samples and submitted them to Japan . They wanted them the same day 25000 of them to sell at £350.00 each Another £ 8.75million sale for Mitsui
It was decided that the second propeller should be brought from Southampton to St Andrews , 32 tonnes and nearly 20 ft diameter . How ???  Sea , Chinook  we thought . Call Stone Manganese Marine they must know .  The answer came back Road , but its too wide . Use a special cradle that puts its on an angle so its only a lane width .
Easy job we thought , trailer , cradle with propeller and drive . Not so easy or quickly . We needed a police escort from start to finish . GREAT more publicity and so it was ,it took months of organizing but finally the day came .
We had issued a press release to state that we were moving the second propeller the 390 miles by road from The King George V Dock to the Swilken factory in St Andrews to go on display for the duration of Open Championship .
The trip took nearly a week and with the publicity machine in full throttle the QE2 propeller hit every TV network on its travels and every regional and national newspaper .
The best bit of news was yet to come . When it arrived at the forth road bridge we were all there to greet it as it was going to be a great photo opportunity. The bridge master was there to greet us with members of the local constabulary .

Mr Ableson there is a problem .  We cant allow the propeller to cross the bridge with all the traffic at the same time . We are going to have to close the bridge specially for you until your clear of the other side .  Publicity heaven we thought, that cant happen that often.
And it came to pass that all the traffic was halted and for some 15 minutes the QE2 Propeller stopped literally thousands of cars crossing. BBC Scotland covered the story that night and immediately we were back in the news . The propeller finally arrived in St Andrews.
On arrival at our factory there were crowds of people who had come for the Open Championship . We had a brand new 100ton crane  to off load the prop and place it onto a specially cast plinth .  More TV crews turned up who were here to cover the golf and so the story had wings that literally covered the globe within hours.
It took nearly 3 hours to unload by the time the support legs were sited and the arm extended and the slings sorted but it was well worth it.
We had own stand within the tented village for the open which was mobbed from day one for almost a week. It was hot that week and  to cap it off Nick Faldo won the championship .
Ian Bunch was chairman of the Greens Committee for the R & A so fortunately for lunch we used to nip into the R & A Club House and have lunch overlooking the fist tee . For a golfer this is heaven . A few days before the start of the open we were having our lunch when one of Ian’s committee turned up at our table holding the holy grail of golf “ The Claret Jug  “  about to be taken for a quick polish . I must say it was surreal having soup and a sandwich with the most famous golfing trophy sat in the middle of the table . Someone cracked a joke at Ian and said “ I bet you could melt this down and turn into a putter .”  Thank goodness he was joking as there could have been an execution in Scotland , the first in who knows how long.
Straight after the Open Championship we had our Thermic Lance specialist up to St Andrews to cut the prop up into smaller chunks so that too could be smelted , turned into bars and then cast the intricate sole plate for the Putter Royale.
While all this was happening and sets were being delivered on a daily basis all over the world our friends at Mitsui were being inundated with requests for all sorts of items , so who did they call first , Paul.  Dinosaurs and Fossils were going crazy since we gifted our Egg and we had requests for more eggs . I did manage to find a nest of six which went to Japan to a construction companies corporate HQ.  Red Telephone boxes we sent 30 to Japan to a theme park . The new Lotus Elan Turbo’s were required , not one or two but 20 . Their shopping list was wild a varied to say the least.
RMS Lusitania
With all the press coverage that the Q2 Golf Clubs had produced it was near impossible to miss the developments of the project to such an extent that I received a call one day asking if we would be interested in a pair of props from the Lusitania , White Star Line Ship with a very tragic history . All the salvage was lying in Aberdeen so I flew from Leeds to Aberdeen via Edinburgh for the day to look at the salvage.  Allegedly the Ship was carrying arms and ammunition that was the reason the Germans torpedoed the ship but it was always denied by the powers that be.
I was offered the lot two props ,crockery , 6000 commemorative spoons with Lord Kitchener’s face embossed into the handle and surprisingly a vast amount of percussion caps or detonators.
I was given a number of samples including the detonators and headed back to the airport . Cleared security and just as I was about to board the plane thought what if one of these detonators that have been at the bottom of the sea for 70 years decides to go off at 10000 feet . I missed my flight back to Leeds that day as I returned the detonators in a hurry.
We didnt proceed with the Lusitania but John Letters a Scottish Golf Club maker decided to buy them and publish a brochure cheekily using plagiarizing our brochure . Their marketing lasted all of a week before our lawyers stopped them from  using our wording.  That project never happened and I believe there is one of the props on display in Liverpool.
I did however purchase a small pair from HM Royal Yacht Britannia, which ended up as 10000 putters all sold to South Korea in 1991.
The Q2 project in USA was not surprisingly marketed through a Japanese company who followed closely in the path that the Mitsui had taken . Based in Los Angeles they had the cream of Hollywood society to market to .
We had the Putter Royale  on sale through the Cunard Magazine  in the states and it went down a storm
The project took some 7 years to fulfill from the initial thought to the delivery of the final sets in 1992 . Less than 7500 people around the world have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed playing with their Q2”s. Many individuals bought two sets one to play with and one to keep have  a memento that will be passed from generation to generation.
Q2 from the oceans of the world to the Fairways of the World.
By the way if anyone comes across my missing set no 10 then  the champagne is on me
I was going to bid for the QE2 when she came up for sale in 2007 but my bath wasn’t big enough .
This was a once in a lifetimes project and thanks for coming along for the ride.
Please do not hesitate in contacting me if you have any questions.
Paul Ableson

More Pics to follow when I find them

« Last Edit: Jul 11, 2012, 06:00 PM by Rob Lightbody »

Offline Paul Ableson

Re: QE2 Golf Clubs
« Reply #31 on: Jul 11, 2012, 11:34 AM »
QE2 Propeller in St Andrews

Offline No 736

Re: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors
« Reply #32 on: Jul 11, 2012, 09:42 PM »
Hello Paul, and thanks for posting your fascinating story of how the Q2 clubs were produced, from concept to sales.
I own a set and a part set of these clubs and they are beautifully designed and finished. I wonder how many sets still exist in pristine condition?

Offline Rod

Re: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors
« Reply #33 on: Jul 11, 2012, 10:51 PM »
Great story!
Thank you!

Offline Alistair

Re: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors
« Reply #34 on: Jul 12, 2012, 08:46 AM »
An amazing story and a joy to read. Thank you for taking the time to post it here on the forum Paul.


Online cunardqueen

Re: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors
« Reply #35 on: Jul 12, 2012, 02:10 PM »
I remember receiving the lavish brochure for the gold clubs and thinking it was a heck of a lot of money for a set of clubs, back then l couldnt figure out why call them Q2, and wondered why they couldnt be called QE2 clubs.The Q2 Putter Royal again looked an impressive club,but realising that I had no interest in golf and the money would be better spent on a QE2 cruise, that was where my money went .

As it happened l had for some time an unfinished Q2 putter head that was used as a paperweight, bought it of ebay for a pittance, l had it for several years, resold it on ebay and the very day after it was sold Cunard announced QE2 was sold.. l still kick myself.  ???

Thanks for taking the time to post the detailed events on here, it makes for superb reading !
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline Paul Ableson

Re: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors
« Reply #36 on: Jul 12, 2012, 02:27 PM »
One thing I forget to mention which was hilarious . The morning after the Gala Dinner the 85 or so guests staying on board ship were informed that breakfast would cease at 10am . I turned up at exactly 10.05 to be informed by the maitre de that breakfast had finished and there was no way I was going to get anything . I protested and said you have a full crew and 85 guests on board and as they weren't serving any food for guests the rest of the day surely I could get some food . No, came back the answer. Jokingly I re told the story later in the day in a meeting with Mitsui , who were horrified by the situation. If I remember correctly Mitsui instructed Cunard that their staff were to be replaced with Japanese personnel who understood customer service to the Japanese clientele.

Offline Paul Ableson

Re: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors
« Reply #37 on: Jul 12, 2012, 02:41 PM »
Here are some pics of the QE2 commemorative medallion pack that we produced for Cunard for the 1985 re-launch.

This medal was struck in cupro-nickel. We did produce some in solid silver which were given to a number of Cunard Executives.

Online Bob C.

Re: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors
« Reply #38 on: Jul 13, 2012, 03:21 AM »
Just found this photo of one of the old props being chopped up on the web -
« Last Edit: Jul 13, 2012, 03:23 AM by Bob C. »

Offline Paul Ableson

Re: QE2 "Q2" Golf Clubs made from her propellors
« Reply #39 on: Jul 24, 2012, 01:05 PM »
Herewith a pic of the two original propellors lying beside the King George V dry dock in southampton


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