Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

End of a royal ship's era

By Eleanor Williams
BBC News, Southampton Water

The QE2 sailing past Hythe Marina
The QE2 sailed past Hythe after the grounding delayed the ship

For 40 years Southampton has been the home of the luxury liner the QE2. As dawn broke over the city on Tuesday, she arrived for the very last time and many of her faithful admirers were there to greet the iconic ship.

Even an accidental grounding on a sandbank in the Solent, which delayed the grand entrance, did not deter the 50 or so enthusiasts who lined the waterfront at Hythe Marina to welcome her.

They all agreed that this was "a sad day" and "the end of an era" but also an occasion not to be missed.

Cynthia and Gerald Cardno, who travelled from their home in Kent, braved the cold November winds to say farewell to the QE2.

Mrs Cardno said: "I think it's very sad to see her go, but she is an old lady now.

"She is lovely to see and she's so majestic. It's a shame she is going but she will look very impressive [when she is made into a hotel] I hope."

Malcolm Cooper
Our heritage is being lost with her going
Malcolm Cooper

Les Ayris, of East Boldre in the New Forest, said he often comes down to watch the big ships as they come in.

"My brother and I cycled down to see her arriving for the first time [in 1969] but when we got here she was already in."

This time Mr Ayris made sure he would not miss the QE2 arrive by turning up at Hythe Marina in the early hours to wait for her.

His friend Kathy Hammond, who lives in Hythe, came down to join him after hearing that the QE2 had been delayed.

She said: I come down here quite often. Friends who come often want to see the ships.

"Sometimes you're just coming back with some shopping and there she [the QE2] is.

"I think it's a shame she's not staying in Southampton.

"They talk about building a luxury hotel [in the city]. This is a missed opportunity. They talk about wanting something iconic - what could be more iconic than the QE2."

'Stuck all day'

Malcolm Cooper, from Stubbington in Hampshire, said: "I've followed her for 40 years. Today is a very sad day.

"It's sad that this country couldn't have kept her here. Our heritage is being lost with her going.

Gordon and Sylvia Coster
The Costers would have liked a tour of the QE2 before she leaves

"The good thing though is she's not going to be scrapped.

"[But] it's totally wrong to replace the funnel with a glass one."

Gordon and Sylvia Coster, from Eastleigh, also came down for the final send off and said they were amazed to hear she had run aground.

Mr Coster said: "It's funny it should happen on the last trip.

"If it had happened on the outgoing tide she could have ended up being stuck all day."

Mrs Coster said: "It's a pity she's not in for a week or so. Then they could let people onboard to look around before she's gone."

The QE2 is set to leave Southampton on its last cruise to Dubai at 1915 GMT.

She will then be turned into floating luxury hotel permanently moored in the city.


QE2 arrives in Southampton ahead of its final voyage on Tuesday evening

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