All work on building Queen Mary—then simply known as Hull Number 534—was halted on 11 December 1931 due to the worldwide economic depression. Some 3,000 John Brown and Co. shipyard workers were let go, leading to a very sad—and scary—Christmas in Clydebank.
As if the shipyard crisis wasn’t bad enough, as many as 10,000 other workers at Queen Mary suppliers throughout the UK also lost their jobs over the course of the next several weeks. Most of these workers, like their Clydebank counterparts, remained idled for many years, and many never returned to the jobs they were trained for. Member of Parliament David Kirkwood said, “As long as Number 534 lies like a skeleton in my constituency, so long will the depression last in this country. To me, it seems to shout ‘Failure! Failure!’ to the whole of Britain.”
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