Second and Third-class facilities on the RMS Titanic
Second-class accommodation and facilities on board the Titanic were the equivalent in comfort and space to many First-class facilities on other ships of the time. Although the Second and Third-class sections of the ship occupied a much smaller proportion of space overall than those of First-class, there were several comfortable, large public rooms and elevators for the passengers to enjoy.
Third-class was also remarkably comfortable by the standards of the time and had elevators. A Dining Saloon provided steerage passengers with simple but hearty meals thrice daily, at a time when many ships forced Third-class passengers to bring their own food provisions for the voyage.
The bulk of Second-class passenger staterooms were located aft of mid-ship, between D and F Decks. The majority of E-Deck staterooms were designated Second-class; visually and convenience-wise they differed little from a standard First-class stateroom. A good indication of how similar the rooms were is that large sections of the Second-class accommodation on E-Deck were First-class alternative, meaning they were normally reserved for Second-class but were prioritized for 1st-Class passengers when there was high demand. Staterooms E1-E42 were Second/First-class alternative cabins, which could accommodate either of the classes if one was overbooked.
Second-class staterooms were very comfortable, featuring oak paneling painted a glossy white, linoleum floors, mahogany furniture usually consisting of a large sofa, wardrobe, and dressing table with washbasin, mirror, and storage shelves. All the taps were connected to huge freshwater tanks located deep within the ship and many rooms contained "tipped" washbasins on shelves that could be folded back into the cabinet to save room. Shared staterooms were segregated by sex so that single women or men often shared staterooms with one another. Unlike in First-class, which offered many staterooms with private bathrooms, Second-class bathroom facilities were all shared. Communal lavatories and bathrooms were separated by companionways and divided by sex. A bath could be had on request to a steward and bed linen was changed daily.
Second-class offered passengers a spacious library/area, smoking room, outdoor promenade, and dining room. There was also a barber shop off the main staircase on E-Deck and a Purser's Office where passengers could store their valuables. There were two staircases for Second-class passengers - the main forward one communicated between the Boat Deck all the way down to F-Deck and featured an elevator, the first to be featured in Second-class aboard an ocean liner. The second ran between F and B-Decks and directly accessed the Library and Smoking Room. Both stairways were more modestly designed than their First-class counterparts; the balustrades were made entirely of oak and the flooring was in white and red patterned linoleum.
There were three separate outdoor Promenade areas for Second-class. The main one was a 145 ft long unsheltered stretch at the aft-end of the Boat Deck that encompassed the raised roof of the First-class Smoking Room. A small deckhouse was installed acting as the Second-class entrance, from where the elevator and main staircase were reached. There were wooden-slatted wrought iron benches installed along this deck and teak deck chairs could be rented for three shillings/1 dollar per person for the voyage.
The two other Promenades were on B and C-Decks, surrounding the Smoking Room and Library. The C-Deck level was 84 ft long and enclosed in steel framing with glass windows. It was generally used as a children's play area.
The Library was located on C-Deck at the aft end of the Titanic's superstructure, overlooking the aft well-deck and poop deck. Decorated in the Adam style, it was paneled in contrasting light sycamore and dark mahogany with columned accents. There were fluted, white-painted wooden columns throughout the room supporting a coffered plaster ceiling. Mahogany chairs and tables furnished the room, with writing desks by the windows with lamps and a large bookcase which functioned as the lending library. This room combined the functions of the library, lounge, writing room, and drawing room.
The Smoking Room, like its First-class counterpart, was a male-only domain. Located directly above the Library, it was decorated in the Louis XVI style, paneled in oak and laid with linoleum tiles. Oak club chairs upholstered in green Morocco leather surrounded square tables for card playing. There was an adjoining bar for stewards to supply drinks and cigars and an adjoining lavatory.
The Second-class Dining Saloon was located aft on D-Deck and shared the same galley as the First-class Dining Saloon further forward. Although only about half the size of its First-class counterpart, it was nonetheless a large room at 70 ft long that could accommodate 394 in one sitting. Supplied with natural light by portholes, the room was paneled in oak and lined with linoleum flooring. There were parallel rows of long, rectangular dining tables in contrast to the cozy seating groups in First-class, and the mahogany swivel chairs upholstered in red leather were bolted to the floor (this was a standard feature even in First-class aboard other ships).
None of the Second-class public areas of the Titanic survive in an appreciable form because they are located in the stern section, the decks of which have pancaked upon one another. The C-Deck steel housing which once contained the stairway and Library for Second-class are discernible, along with the once-covered promenade area with its enclosed windows.
Sections of RMS Olympic's Second-class public areas survived for many years at the Haltwhistle Paint Factory in Northumberland, England before they were auctioned in 2004. These included paneling, a pilastered doorway with cornice, and moulding from the Dining Saloon, the window and surrounding frame from the Second-class Purser's Office, and paneling and windows from the Second-class stairway. Part of the sycamore and mahogany paneling from the Library on Olympic is installed in the Silver Vestibule of the Cutler's Hall in Sheffield.
Third Class on board Titanic was noticeably more comfortable than what was offered on many of her competitors, though Third-class passengers enjoyed the smallest proportion of space on board and very few facilities. The White Star Line had earned a reputation for providing notably good service in Third-class, which was becoming an increasingly profitable share of the transatlantic passenger service. Technically "Steerage", the term for low-paying immigrant passengers housed in open-space dormitories, does not apply to the Titanic's Third-class passengers, all of whom were housed in private cabins of no more than 10 people. There were 84 two-berth cabins for the Third-class, and in all, 1,100 Third-class passengers could be accommodated.
Accommodation for Third-class was located in the least desirable parts of the ship, where passengers were subject to the noise and vibrations of the engines. These were on the lower decks at either end of the ship. Single men were housed in the bow while single women and families were accommodated in the stern section, with families occupying the larger cabins. Cabins were spacious by the standards of the time but often irregularly shaped, to conform with the curvature of the ship's stern and bow sections. Third-class cabins were very similar to Second-class ones in price and appearance; the only major differences were the lack of a wardrobe and a different style of washbasin. They were paneled in white-painted pine with salmon pink colored linoleum floors, furnished with plumbed-in washbasins, mattresses and White Star bed linens (the only exception was single men, who were provided with only straw-stuffed mattresses and a blanket). In contrast to First and Second-class, there were only two baths to serve the more than 700 steerage passengers on board at any one time.
There were four main rooms to serve steerage passengers, in addition to the outdoor space located on the Poop and Aft-Well Decks in the stern, and the Forward-Well Deck near the bow. All three rooms were simply appointed, with an emphasis on easy maintenance and hygiene.
The Dining Saloon was located mid-ship on F-Deck and was actually two rooms separated by a bulkhead. It was 100 ft long in total and could accommodate 473 at a time. Like other parts of Third-class, the Saloon was segregated: the forward room was reserved for families and single women and the aft room for single men. The uptake shafts from Boiler Rooms 2 and 3 partially occupied spaces in both rooms, dividing them into four different sections. There were some sections paneled in pine, but otherwise only steel painted in white enamel and hung with posters advertising other White Star ships. Nonetheless there were comfortable, freestanding wooden chairs and the room was brightly lit by portholes.
Underneath the Poop Deck were two gathering spaces for Third-class passengers, the General Room along the starboard side, and the Third-class Smoking Room along the port. Both were modestly appointed with pine-paneled walls painted white, linoleum floor tiling, and long wooden benches for seating. The Smoking Room, a male-only domain, featured its own bar, spittoons, and tables attached to the floor for card playing and other activities.
The General Room was a fairly small but popular recreation space for both sexes to interact, usually under the careful watch of their chaperones. There was a piano in the room and passengers with their own instruments could form bands to accompany parties. A party was held in this room the evening of the sinking until the lights were extinguished at 10:00 pm.
The Third-class Open Space was a very large room all the way forward in the ship on D-Deck, directly underneath the Forward Well Deck above. It could be entered from outside via two wide staircases off the well deck or from below via another set of staircases from E-Deck. While it had tables and chairs installed along the port and starboard sides, as the title suggests the room was mostly open space ideal for dances and socializing. There were a bar and numerous drinking fountains throughout the room. In the middle of the space were the enclosed wells of the Bunker and No. 2 cargo hatches, through which cargo was lowered down to the Orlop Deck before departure. It was tiled in red linoleum, with the exposed steel of the hull painted in white enamel and hung with posters advertising the White Star Line and the ships of the IMM.
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- Description from "The Shipping World", 14th June 1911. Tibballs, Geoff,"The Mammoth Book of the Titanic", Carroll & Graf: 2002; 10.
- (Bruce Beveridge 2008, p. 23)
- Lynch, Don & Marschall, Ken, Ghosts of the Abyss. 2001; 101.
- (Geoff Tibballs 1997, p. 42)
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- Lynch, Don & Marschall, Ken. Titanic: An Illustrated History, Wellfleet Press: 2005; pp. 52-3
- (Ballard 1987, p. 204)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 15)
- Geoff Tibballs (2002). The Mammoth Book of the Titanic: contemporary accounts from survivors and the world's press. p. 21.
- Lynch, Don & Marschall, Ken. Titanic - An Illustrated History, Wellfleet Press: 1997; 59.
- (Bruce Beveridge 2008, p. 23)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2008, p. 23)
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- (Geoff Tibballs 1997, p. 43)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 424)
- (Bruce Beveridge 2009, p. 350)