The Cunard Steamship
Company was a well-known company that had both the financial resources
and experience of North Atlantic traffic, two great assets that
would be of benefit to the expansion plans that Eagle desired. So
the short-lived marriage of Eagle and Cunard was made. Eagle moved
its operation and maintenance base to Heathrow, the maintenance
base, occupying Hangers 2, 3 & 4. The new name splashed across
the aircraft looked impressive; also the new Eagle emblem painted
on the fins gave the aircraft a look of importance.
The lease on G-APYY
was extended and two new Britannia's arrived. Things were looking
exciting for the company. Then towards the end of 1961 and into
1962 the marriage with Cunard began to crumble. B.O.A.C. became
concerned by the threat this new combination might be to them. They
could see the advantages of having a large shipping company with
themselves, and like the unfaithful maid they made overtures to
Cunard. Secret negotiations were held between the chairmen of Cunard
and B.O.A.C. The shock announcement was made B.O.A.C.-Cunard was
to be formed. There was no place for Eagle in this new arrangement.
So divorce was inevitable. Cunard transferred virtually all that
Eagle had achieved by hard work during its lifetime to the new Company
including the two new 707's. (One gets a good idea of what went
on by reading Sir Basil Smallpiece's book 'Of Comets & Queens'.)
Eagle's very existence hung in the balance, they were 'down' but
certainly not 'out'. There was in the staff an attitude of 'we have
been through difficult times before and survived'. They pulled together,
with Harold Bamberg still at the helm having bought back a controlling
interest in Eagle. The name Cunard was finally removed from aircraft
and advertising. British Eagle was born.
It had been a difficult
birth but it survived to keep the name of Eagle flying.......
to British Eagle