Seattle Now & Then: The Dominion Monarch

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The ocean liner Dominion Monarch arrived in Seattle from Southampton, England on May 29, 1962 to a noisy Worlds’ Fair public relations greeting while it was carefully slipped between pilings especially driven beside Pier 50, where it was moored as a “botel” for the duration of its service thru the duration of Century 21. It was a brief reprieve for following the fair the liner sailed for Japan where she was broken up. (Photo by Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Thanks to the Seattle Police Department for including Jean Sherrard in their waterfront patrol last June 29. Jean got a wake-up call at 6:30 a.m. from patrol vessel No. 9 as it passed through the Chittenden Locks. Told he had 30 minutes to make it to the pergola at the foot of Washington Street for his “repeat,” Jean made a big exception. He skipped his home-roasted morning coffee.

Lawton Gowey, a friend now long departed, is still a frequent contributor to this feature.  Ordinarily it has been with historical photographs from his collection but this time it is with one of his own Kodachromes, and as was his considerate habit, it is dated.  On the late morning of June 20, 1962, with his back to the landmark steel pergola (1920) at the waterfront foot of Washington Street, Lawton recorded a harbor patrol boat carefully jockeying between its float and the 27,000 tons of the Dominion Monarch.

The 682-foot-long Dominion M. was the largest of three ships parked on the Seattle waterfront during Century 21 to serve as hotel ships, aka “botels,” during the worlds fair. With the hindsight of the  “Marine History of the Pacific Northwest,” which he authored, Port Commissioner and maritime historian Gordon Newell admitted that the fair’s “predicted major housing shortage failed to develop.”  The botels were not much needed, and yet the shapely English vessel was for many a sensational attraction and during the fair Newell won the concession for leading tours aboard it.  Standing on its flying bridge, ten stories high, one looked down on the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

It is possible that Gowey also toured this big botel on the day he photographed it, for on that same June 6 Wednesday morning The Seattle Times humorist John Reddin wrote about taking the tour.  Reddin imagined or mistook his guide, Commissioner Newell, in his “white, tropical uniform,” as “Noel Coward playing the lead role in ‘In Which We Serve’”  Reddin concluded that Newell “easily could play Lieut. Pinkerton in ‘Madame Butterfly’.”

Almost certainly it was another waterfront regular E. A. “Eddie” Black who favored Newell with his tour leader’s role, for it was Black who intercepted the Dominion Monarch, then on its way to Japan for scrapping, to come to the fair first.  Black was a seasoned and savvy operator on the waterfront who escaped official leans on vessels tied to docks by making his rented cruiser a “permanent installation.”  He simply drove pilings to both the port and starboard sides of the Dominion Monarch.  This made the gangway to the ship’s lodgings and/or Newel’s dapper tours somewhat longer than if the Dominion Monarch had been tied snuggly to Pier 50.


One correction, Paul, to your otherwise excellent column – I was up before 6 AM to meet the SPD boat at the foot of Washington Street at 6:30 – a real sign of dedication on an early but lovely summer’s morning.

Anything to add, my friend?

To read Paul’s colorful response, click HERE!

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: The Dominion Monarch”

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