The Ultley's Patent Flood Proof Porthole, from the collection of:
Beveridge: I must give this offering from Scott Andrews an introduction,
as this plays a part in one of the many achievements of the TRMA, and the wide variety of
talents we have on board with our trustees.
While Robert Hahn and I were at the 2000 BTS Convention in Southampton, we had the opportunity to have a sit down with Ralph White. Ralph was asking us many questions about the ship and where certain things were located etc. Near the end of the night, Ralph brought up an object that he had found in the debris field that was rather odd looking. He had wondered if we had included the "porthole with the rectangular ventilating hole" on the Hahn Titanic Plans. I had no idea what he was talking about as I had never seen a rectangular ventilating opening on the sides of the hull of any of the Olympic class liners. Robert, on the other hand, remembered seeing this same object in a wreck video we have. In any case, we did not know what this rectangular duct's use was, as it was clearly attached to a porthole that had been dislodged from the hull of the Titanic.
During the first meeting of the TRMA in May of 2000 in Willow Springs IL., I just so happened to remember this conversation that had taken place between Ralph White, Robert and me. I asked Scott Andrews for his opinion of this thing. As usual, Scott had an answer immediately. He advised that he had some information on a special kind of porthole in one of his many books, and though the article did not mention the Olympic class liners directly, the description was right on the money. He explained how it worked, but realized that the best bet would be to send me a copy of the actual article. After doing a snap of the video footage of the wreck porthole, we found that it was certainly the same device. This information has been passed on to Ralph White. As to what he did with the information, I don't know, but here it is for all of the members of the TRMA from the archives of Scott Andrews:
From "Power of the Great Liners", by Dr. Denis Griffiths:
"As ships became bigger and passenger accommodations more extensive, the problem of providing adequate ventilation began to tax ship builders. Forced air circulation was an answer but it could be noisy, create draughts and go wrong. Traditional ports in the ship's side remained ever popular with passengers as they allowed for individual cabin ventilation. The major problem with these was keeping the sea out whilst letting air in as passengers could not be relied on to close ports when heavy, or even moderate, seas were expected. To avoid the inconvenience of wet cabins several patent ports were developed, most proving to be cumbersome and ineffective. One of the more reliable types was installed aboard the new Cunard pair. [the steamships "Campania" (1892) and "Lucania" (1893)]
Traditional ship's side ports were paired with Utley ports, thus allowing each cabin a supply of fresh air in all conditions. The Utley port consisted of a valve unit fitted inboard of and above the usual port. A glass sidelight in front of the port allowed light in, but the air came via the valve unit mounted above. If the port became submerged then water would enter through the port but would lift the valve and seal it, thus preventing water from entering the cabin. When the wave passed the valve would drop allowing air free access to the cabin once more. Similar valve units regulated ventilation in other parts of the ship. Although the system functioned it was expensive and the experiment was never repeated aboard other Cunard ships."
The porthole from the Titanic
"We believe that this device was of the same kind used
on the Olympic-class liners, though the ones seen in the Titanic's debris field are of a
later design". We also believe, that the portholes seen close to the
waterline at the bow and the stern, or along the lower areas of the hull, are these
Utley's patent portholes.
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