A few of us have been to see the wonderful Ocean Liners – Speed and Style exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

One of the posters displayed advertised a cruise on the QE2 and a flight on Concorde, a package developed by Cunard and British Airways in the 1980s to encourage luxury travel.

The visit made us think about some of the gems we have in our own collection such as a beautiful Art Deco leaflet advertising Weekend Cruises by Ocean Liner – a weekend circular tour by G.W.R. and Ocean Liner.

The leaflet is in red and black so reflects Cunard’s branding rather than the Great Western Railway (GWR).

Information on the sailings could be obtained on application to Cunard’s offices in London and information on train services in connection with the cruises would be gladly furnished by the Superintendent of the line at Paddington Station.

At that time in the 1930s, ocean liners docked at Plymouth and passengers wanting to get to London disembarked and caught a GWR train to London.

This left empty cabins for the final leg of the journey so the GWR and Cunard offered weekend cruises from Plymouth to London which included travel to Plymouth by train and gave passengers the enjoyment of trans-oceanic travel.

The Cunard ocean liners usually called at Plymouth on Saturdays and passengers could enjoy 25 or 26 hours’ sea travel from Plymouth to London. The cruise passed close to the Channel Islands and Cherboug, called at Havre and sailed within sight of the south coast and then up the Thames estuary to London.

Passengers joining the Cunard liners at Plymouth had full use of the public accommodation on the ships, including dining, drawing, dancing rooms and gymnasia. The leaflet says that private cabins are also available so presumably some of the accommodation was shared.

The fare from London to Plymouth and back to London was £4 19 shillings in First Class and £4 5 shillings in Third Class so it only cost an extra 14 shillings (70 pence) to travel in luxury on the train. The fares included Plymouth dock charges, rail and liner (cabin) fares as well as all necessary meals on the ships but no mention of dining on the train. The First Class fare is equivalent to about £1,000 at today’s prices so this wasn’t a cheap weekend away but it was a wonderful opportunity to travel in real luxury.

This leaflet is one of hundreds in the collection of the Great Western Trust at Didcot Railway Centre.