Accommodating the passenger : interior design for the Union-Castle line 1945-1977

McKay, Harriet (2011) Accommodating the passenger : interior design for the Union-Castle line 1945-1977. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis examines the history of interior design for the Union-Castle passenger liners sailing from Southampton to South Africa between 1945 and 1977, when the last Union-Castle ship left Cape Town. Interrogating the passenger accommodation of five Union-Castle ships, Pretoria Castle (1948). Edinburgh Castle (1948), Pendennis Castle (1960), Windsor Castle (1961), and Reina del Mar (1973), it analyses the design choices and decisions taken by Union-Castle and its managing company, British & Commonwealth Shipping Ltd. (B&C), posits reasons for these, and considers their implications for the creation of Union-Castle's interiors. Drawing upon established design-historical methods, I also argue throughout for an interdisciplinary approach, in particular since this enables a reading of the 'un-designed' and non-canonical space. I contend that it is essential to engage with the wider histories that provided the environment for Union-Castle's operations, and argue that this is a design history that cannot be meaningfully written without also tracing the relationship between Union-Castle, B&C and the Afrikaner National Party government (1948-1994). It is this relationship that provides the underlying discussion of the thesis the extent to which the co-constitutive themes of both the 'representation of politics' and the 'politics of representation' informed the interior design of Union-Castle's ships Such was the nature of the National Party's hegemony that its political ethos can clearly be demonstrated to have had an impact not only upon the process by which, but also the interiors of the vehicles with which, the shipping line conducted business. Of critical significance to this history is the fact that nowhere on board any of the ships that provide my case studies is there ever any reference to black Africa Instead, a series of interiors were produced which were variously inscribed with wholly 'white' ideas about emigration, nationhood and colonial relations between Britain and Africa, and, in the post-colonial period, with ideas about British heritage versus modernity power-broking vis a vis Pretoria and with discourses associated with the rise of air travel and mass tourism.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page