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Author Topic: The Coffin Club  (Read 699 times)

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Online Michael Gallagher

The Coffin Club
« on: Nov 13, 2019, 09:42 AM »
Social Hostess Maureen Ryan tells of the most sought-after party invitation on the old Queens was to the Coffin Club - a party held where the coffins were stored!
« Last Edit: Mar 24, 2020, 10:48 AM by Isabelle Prondzynski »

Online Lynda Bradford

Re:The Coffin Club
« Reply #1 on: Mar 23, 2020, 08:01 PM »
Brian Price has asked me to post on his behalf his memories of the Coffin Club:

I had the distinct privilege of visiting the Coffin Club on several occasions.

Coffin Club....RMS Queen Elizabeth. Circa 1963

Location.....at the forward end of the ship near the bottom of a hold....I think No 2 Hatch. It was opposite  the Specie Room, which was where the gold and other valuables were stored during trans Atlantic crossings.

As Junior Asst Purser 1st Class, on more than one occasion, I was assigned to meet Wells Fargo at the gangway and supervise the reception of trolley loads of gold bars to be loaded into the Specie Room in New York for their delivery to a Bank of England ‘person’ who then met the ship in Southampton. I believe this was gold that  had been stored at Fort Knox for the duration of WW11, and it was now considered safe enough for it to be returned to UK.

The Coffin Club was directly opposite the Specie Room, and was actually an area of the Hold which had been used to store empty coffins, lots of coffins. These were still in situ and were used as seats.
The otherwise unused room had been commandeered by various crew members, mainly Head Waiters, who had ‘converted’ it into a Night Club with music and copious amounts of alcohol in order to provide a more salubrious alternative to the Pig and Whistle.

Attendance was by invitation only. And an average evening would comprise an eclectic mix of passengers, officers and crew.

As Junior Asst Purser 1st Class, I had come into contact with Richard Burton. I had been sent to his suite to collect passport details for himself and Elizabeth Taylor for insertion onto the manifest. I had spoken to him with my very limited words of Welsh (I lived in Wales at the time), and as a result we were ‘nodding acquaintances’.

During the crossing, a Head Waiter approached me and asked if I would be at the Verandah Grill at 10.30 that night to meet with Richard Burton and bring him to the Coffin Club. We would be met at the forward staircase and taken to the Coffin Club.

After meeting Richard, we firstly dropped Elizabeth back at their suite and then proceeded forward to make our rendezvous to be conducted down to the Coffin Club. Elizabeth preferred the comfort and dignity of the suite rather than a bit of un ‘below decks’.

I remember sitting between a Laundry Lady from Liverpool named Queenie Dignam and Richard Burton, while they swapped jokes with an amazing contrast between Burton’s deep perfect pronunciations and Queenie’s strong Liverpool accent.

You could always tell when someone had been to the Coffin Club, because the red floor paint would rub off onto the soles of their shoes....a sort of Badge of Honour.

So there it is without embellishment. However it was 56 years ago.

I have tried to be as accurate as possible.
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Online CasinoChris

Re:The Coffin Club
« Reply #2 on: Mar 23, 2020, 09:21 PM »
Thanks Lynda and Brian for the story, it's memories like this that make this site a special resource.
Never heard about the coffin club during my working time onboard, wonder if it was still around in the 80's to 90's. Also did not know that Gold Bullion was transported onboard, thought the most valuable stuff was the Caviar! ;D ;D

Online Lynda Bradford

Re:The Coffin Club
« Reply #3 on: Mar 24, 2020, 09:26 AM »
Thanks Lynda and Brian for the story, it's memories like this that make this site a special resource.
Never heard about the coffin club during my working time onboard, wonder if it was still around in the 80's to 90's. Also did not know that Gold Bullion was transported onboard, thought the most valuable stuff was the Caviar! ;D ;D

Thanks Chris it is a wonderful story, but of the Coffin Club on RMS Queen Elizabeth not QE2.  Sorry for the confusion, I put the topic in QE2 section rather than the Queen Elizabeth board. 

Half of my brain is still in Australia, after returning home last week.  Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.   ;D
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Online CasinoChris

Re: The Coffin Club
« Reply #4 on: Mar 24, 2020, 12:46 PM »
Oops...I'm a dum dum! The ship's name is in the first line.... :(

 

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