Crew living/working/eating conditions

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Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby Ruark » Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:40 pm

I'm interested in the conditions that the crew members experienced on the Titanic. There's a huge focus on the passengers, obviously, but it seems like I hardly ever read much about the crew. For example:

1. What kind of off-duty quarters did they have? I'm assuming they had bunks to sleep in - how did that work? What about things like clothing changes and showers or baths, especially for those who had "dirty" jobs?

2. Did they have the run of the ship, or were they required to stay in a certain area(s)?

3. What was their eating arrangement? Did they have their own dining room/kitchen/food supply, or was it a branch of the passenger eating system?

4. Were there any leisure or recreational facilities? Say, a room where they could read, play cards, etc.?

5. WIth regard to all of the above, I'm very interested in differences among various crew positions. For example, the guys working in the Marconi Room vs. the stokers. Did they rub elbows at the lunch table, so to speak? What about 1st class vs. 3rd class waiters, cooks, barbers, deck attendants, etc.? All the same, or different?

This may have been discussed before or elsewhere; any discussion or pointers would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby Aly Jones » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:09 am

Hello, I really enjoyed reading your thread.

1. What kind of off-duty quarters did they have? I'm assuming they had bunks to sleep in - how did that work? What about things like clothing changes and showers or baths, especially for those who had "dirty" jobs?


Were there showers back in those days? Also, people never bathed as much as we do today. Smith had a personal bath to himself, I'm imaging officers shared a bath! 3rd class shared 2 baths between all of them and not all 1st class cabins had personal bathrooms....that's telling you something! Would firemen, stokers etc. have any privileges for any type of bathing until they reach port? After all, they were seen beneath 3rd class passengers.
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby shipbuilder » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:59 pm

Aly,
I would suggest you read this:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4164
I placed it on this forum some time ago. You may find it hard to believe, but it was so!
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby shipbuilder » Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:55 am

Further to the above, I can recommend this book as a starting point as to what ships were like in the late Victorian times:
http://archive.org/details/oceansteamships00huntgoog
This book is a free download. It is well illustarted and shows the pretty poor conditions then prevalent on most ships of that era.

I am quite convinced that no-one can really understand what the Titanic was like unless they have studied other ships of that era.

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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby Gail » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:39 pm

Looks like a fascinating book, Bob. I downloaded it and intend to read it. It's a well-timed recommendation as it'll go right along with my research. By the way I'm still, slowly but surely, reading "The Log of a Sea-Waif" which you suggested previously on the forum. (It was you, wasn't it?)
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby shipbuilder » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:58 pm

Yes, I recommended Sea Waif and enjoyed it very much. I download lots of these ancient sea books. I find them superior to most modern publications.
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby shipbuilder » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:02 pm

I seem to have a remarkable capacity for closing discussions! :o
How many of you have actually read the above link that was an official report, rather than one of my own fabrications?
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby VW1956 » Sat Apr 13, 2013 8:19 pm

Hello Bob. Yes, I read it the first time you posted it. I replied some thing about Oliver Twist would have found it all too much. Ken.
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby Aly Jones » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:47 am

I am quite convinced that no-one can really understand what the Titanic was like unless they have studied other ships of that era.

Bob<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Yes Titanic represented the best technology of her time, why didn't they pushed it a bit more? Having all 1st class rooms with own bathrooms and 3rd class having more baths to accomandate all 3rd class? Why did they stop there? Only handful of 1st class rooms had there own bathrooms and only two baths for 3rd class. Who knows what the lower class workers had as accomandation?
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby shipbuilder » Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:35 am

Aly,
The crew accommodation aboard Titanic and other ships of that era is not a mystery, or secret, neither is it lost in the mists of time. It is well known! Once again, click on this link:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4164
It is an official report from 1914 and not a figment of my imagination!
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby VW1956 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:26 am

Hello. I think what Aly was saying was why did only a couple of first class suites have there own bath. Surely washing was a thing that you wanted to do. Or in the case of third class needed to do. What did the designers actually think of the third class passengers (and second and first). I wonder how often the bath water was changed? I am assuming there would have been a continuous queue waiting to have a bath. And what water would have been used? Would it have been sea water or fresh water? If it had been fresh water then that would explain why it was hoped that not too many people would want a bath. Ken.
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby myTITANIC 2013 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:14 am

Oh man, I seriously can't imagine the pathetic conditions the crew of Titanic had to go through, especially when it comes to provision of food and the type of cabins they had to stay in... What I do remember is the fact that the guys manning the boiler room (including that J. Dawson fellow, I guess?) had a tough job there, having to shovel coal all the time to ensure the ship is being powered adequately... And in that hot, stuffy, and humid condition! :(

Thankfully, today's crew have a much better life on board their ship and at least there is no need for coal workers, since vessels are now mainly diesel-powered, which also resulted in the decrease in number of funnels... Still, one unfortunate similarity remains from then and now - the fact that human error can lead a ship into disaster, such as Titanic in 1912 and the partial sinking of Costa Concordia, exactly 100 years later... :shock:
Titanic is now on Twitter - follow her @titanic_1212
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby shipbuilder » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:11 am

Ken,
I am simply following on along the subject of this discussion that is about crew and officer living conditions. Nothing to do with the passengers!

I have sailed in three passenger liners in which the only officers who had their own bathrooms were the captain and chief engineer. The rest of us had to share, although we had H & C running water in washbasins in our cabins!

What I am trying, and generally failing to do, is get the point across that none of the passenger ships of the 1912 era were particularly comfortable and luxurious. To hear most people talk, you would think that Titanic was the finest and most luxurious ship that ever sailed! They were all pretty similar, and passengers, crew and officers would not tolerate such conditions today!

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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby Aly Jones » Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:14 pm

Yes ken, thats what i was trying to say :)

I know what you mean Bob, Titanic was the biggest but not the most fabulous ship.

Well since the 6th officers cabin was tiny, the engine crew would have something smaller than the 6th officers cabin... I hate to imagine how these guys lived on ships.
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Re: Crew living/working/eating conditions

Postby shipbuilder » Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:24 pm

Aly,
There was not much to choose from with any of them. The reason officers and crew joined the big North Atlantic liners was probably the fact that the voyages were short and they got home regularly, if they lived in Southampton. Prestige, of course, for the officers, but little in the way of comfort.
Most of them didn't eat with the passengers either, but had their own messrooms. By the time I got to sea, the accommodation on big passenger ships was still pretty awful, but the officers nearly all ate in the 1st Class saloon, but only the senior ones had tables with passengers on them!
In 1912, the officers were not encouraged to mix with the passengers at all, apart from the senior officers.
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