Stepping back in time with P&O FERRIES
I've just worked on an amazing project with P&O ferries, where I was asked to research and illustrate what guests would wear on board a passenger cruise liner in 1900. It was fascinating, all new to me, and so very far away from my experiences of long distance travel.
I first went travelling when I was 18 years old and spent a few months exploring Africa. I'd rolled up a minimal amount of dust coloured cotton clothing, a mosquito net, sketchbooks, enough camera film to get me through, and stuffed it all into a backpack. I jumped on a flight and in a matter of hours was in Nairobi. In 1994 we didn't have email or mobile phones, and so my parents found out by postcard two weeks in to my trip that I'd arrived safely. Things have changed dramatically in the 25 years since. Journeys are faster, everything can be booked online or picked up last minute at the airport and the world seems smaller.
In stark contrast, travel in 1900 required long careful planning and it took days to get anywhere. Ships were the only form of international travel and before the turn of the century they were really only used for essential journeys such as immigration or to import goods. But, soon enough, sea travel became a desirable activity, all about the journey and not simply about getting from one destination to another.
Cruises were extremely glamorous affairs, home to the very best restaurants and the most decadent of events for the most distinguished guests. Women who travelled first class changed their outfits around 4 times a day , and were often at sea for a week or more. Huge trunks were taken on board with an amazing range of dresses, undergarments, shoes, gloves, fans, parasols and furs.
I did all of my research for the article online, and would like to thank some fantastic resources. Vintage Dancer is an incredible website and helped me no end. Amber Butchart sent me some very useful copy from her fantastic book, Nautical Chic. And new friends on twitter were super helpful too with helping to suggest what passengers would have done to pass the time on board, as well as letting me know I should never call a ship a boat!
A big thank you to P&O for commissioning me to create these illustrations and to write the article.
I'd love to hear what you think of this post, so please leave any comments below.
This post is sponsored by P&O and all thoughts and opinions are my own.