Titanic: the Ship Magnificent (vol

Titanic: the Ship Magnificent (vol. 2) is just one of many books on Titanic. However it includes a wealth of detail on interior planning and fitting not found elsewhere

In 1912, the White Star liner Titanic sank, and also over 1,500 people lost their lives. One hundred years later, the ones are still referring to the ship that now lies at the end from the sea, two miles down. Titanic has spawned several films and numerous books. Titanic: the Ship Magnificent is a such book. But it's not for that faint-hearted.

The book will come in two volumes: the second, discussed here, covers interior design and fitting out. It does what most other books fail to do, it examines the finer points of Titanic’s look – from carpets to curtains to the design of the steps. It's technical and detailed, and examines layout and furnishings deck by deck. It offers some marvellous gems about life aboard.

Dining on Titanic

1912 England would be a class-led society, and people in different classes had significantly different experiences. Nowhere was this more obvious than you are on a ship like Titanic where passengers travelled First, Second or Third Class (steerage) depending on their means. At mealtimes, not only were the meals and surroundings different but the ambience differed too. In First, nearly all tables were small, for 2-8 people, creating an intimate feel, whereas in Second and Third, dining was more traditional with long tables.

The call for dinner was different too. In First, a bugler would announce the meal, a nearby steward would back this up. There would be also a dress call, 30 minutes earlier. In Second, passengers were called to dinner by a gong.

The Third Class dining room was quite distinctive, being split down the middle by a watertight door. Single men dined somewhere, women and families alternatively. It was exactly the same arrangement as for cabin accommodation, with single men sleeping at the front from the ship and ladies and families at the rear. But despite these differences, food in steerage was good, and passengers were served by among the stewards.

Titanic: Sanitary Arrangements

Being a steward had its very own challenges, especially for people who worked in steerage. The sanitary arrangements (baths and toliets) on Titanic were fairly great for the period, although passengers sometimes needed to visit another deck to find a toilet. There were also very few private facilities and in Third Class, not many baths.

One of the biggest issues was that some steerage passengers weren’t familiar with the sanitary appliances used, especially those who'd come from the poorer countries. Stewards needed to explain how to make use of the up-to-date flush facilities and Olympic's experience showed that some passengers would turn to using any dark space late at night, rather than walk to a different floor or tackle an unknown, sophisticated system. The following morning stewards had to clean up the mess.

More on this topic

    Titanic Events: Samuel Scott Honored as 1st Victim of RMS TitanicBook Foretells the RMS Titanic DisasterTitanic Honour and Glory Exhibition in Southampton

    Baths were a luxury on Titanic. They were relatively few in number and people who existed used brine; apart from the private baths within the First Class suites, that also had fresh water shower sprays.

    Lights Out on Titanic

    Even the times where passengers could retire was governed by the class structure. While 11 pm was classed as ‘lights out’ time, that being time when the dining rooms closed, in First Class the Reading and Writing room stayed open until 11.30 and the Smoke Room until 12. In Second it had been 11.30 for both. In Third, however, passengers were inspired to retire at 10.30 and women especially were expected to leave the decks by 10 pm in the latest.

    Beds and Bedding

    The kind of bed available varied considerably; for some passengers, these were indeed beds as on land, as opposed to traditional berths. Space allocations per person were also greater in First and Second. Third class bunks were generally of a wooden frame, but crew sleeping in dormitory quarters had metal bunks as did single men in steerage. Single male passengers had standard accommodation, being given mattress-shaped canvas bags full of straw to rest on (palliasses). They often used their bags or luggage as pillows and the only bed linen provided would be a cover for the mattress and a White Star blanket. Apart from the berths, cabins for single men included at least one wall seat, but no washing facilities, lockers or wardrobe.

    This was a realm of difference from Top class accommodation, which ranged from civilised to luxurious. Most of the staterooms were decorated inside a particular style such as Louis XIV or Georgian plus some could be quite ornate. Ida Strauss, who travelled on Titanic, marvelled over her Regency suite; but when exactly the same suite (on Olympic) was subsequently agreed to the Prince of Wales, he couldn’t accept it, feeling that ‘this really is too pretty for me’ (p315)!

    Scotland Road or Park Lane

    Titanic was an intricately built ship and nowhere is more evident than you are on E-deck where there were cabins for those three classes plus some from the crew. These different groups needed to be kept separate with appropriate use of their parts of the ship.

    One of the key options that come with this deck was Scotland Road (sometimes called Park Lane through the officers), the long, working crew passageway. The corridor had wooden flooring, was around 8.5 feet wide in many places, coupled with 7 inch wide waterways on each side make it possible for so that it is washed down. A number of stairways (companionways) were provided off Scotland Road, enabling crew to move about between decks easier.

    Barber Shops as Gift Shops

    As well as providing haircuts, the First Class Barber shop sold useful items for example pens and purses in addition to a range of souvenirs such as flags, plates and spoons. Frank Browne, who is famous for taking some classic photographs of Titanic, purchased a souvenir pin cushion from the First Class Barber shop. This, unfortunately, resembled a miniature lifebelt.

    Titanic: did you know?

    A-deck had 614 numbered locations for deck chairs (288 port; 326 starboard), which gives an idea of how big the ship, but there was no number 13While a number of cabins had fireplaces, the very first Class Smoke room had the only real genuine coal-burning fireplace, the others were fitted for electric heat

    Titanic: the ship magnificent (volume two) is a great resource for the specialist researcher. It’s particularly good on stateroom interior design and ship joinery. There are several lovely photographs, mostly of Olympic where she was like Titanic. Like a detailed reference source it can’t be beaten.

    Further Information

    Beveridge, Bruce et al. Titanic: The Ship Magnificent: volume one: design and construction. Stroud: History Press, 2008.Titanic: the ship magnificent websiteEncyclopedia TitanicaHahn Titanic PlansTitanic Historical Society


    Beveridge, Bruce et al. Titanic: the ship magnificent: volume two: interior design & fitting out. 3rd ed. Stroud: History Press, 2009.


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