#30080, "Rearranging deck chairs on Titanic - Part II"
Much attention has been paid to the various benches that were shifted around at the after end of the Boat Deck, but curiously, the stacks of deck chairs have been pretty much ignored other than their role in displacing the benches. The deck chairs seem to be considered "permanent" parts of the ship, I suppose, whereas the deck chairs were not. I care because I am replicating my ship at a specific moment in time, that being just after her arrival at Cherbourg. Therefore I need to know where to place these stacks of chairs. Some may find this of passing interest and/or an exercise in deductive reasoning, and so I'll share my conclusions here.
I examined a number of photographs, including, but not limited to,
- the Cork Examiner photograph looking forward from the after end of the Boat Deck, and the same view taken at Southampton
- the photograph on p 73 of Father Browne's Titanic Album, looking up at Titanic's port quarter from the tender just prior to departure from Queenstown.
- the images captioned as Figs. xxxvii and xxxviii on pp 24-25 of TTSM, of Titanic at Cherbourg (for these, I was able to study the full-size digital version, not the small ones appearing in the book.)
I have not reproduced these images with lines of perspective and such drawn in, because my conclusions are for my own purpose (my model) and this probably is of relatively narrow interest. That said, here is what I believe based on my study.
The movements of the benches were, in each case, dictated by a need to place deck chairs in their place. That should be obvious based on previous discussions. For this reason, I have outlined their movements as well. I also believe that what bench ended up where, or where a particular stack of chairs was moved to, was dictated not by any particular plan, but by the "over there" principle. That's when two or more people have to make room for something and just say "let's put it over there". That said . . .
1. "baseline" bench locations
Using Olympic as a guide, the benches at the after end of the Boat Deck would have been positioned as shown, side by side, as shown here:
2. At Southampton
The benches in the above diagram that are visible in the Southampton photo are marked with a yellow dot below. Unknown if any of the others were actually in their "Olympic" locations at this time.
3. At Queenstown (skipping Cherbourg for now)
The Cork Examiner photo clearly shows that the benches marked with yellow dots have been moved as indicated to make room for the stacks of deck chairs that have appeared, although the movement of the bench to the starboard-side Smoke Room roof is an educated supposition as discussed in a previous thread. Three stacks of chairs have now appeared as well, indicated by the three largest yellow rectangles. The stack against the aft rail to port appears in one of Father Browne's photographs. In addition, at the lower left of the Cork Examiner image, we can see the bottom of a wheeled dolly leaning against the rail. I have marked this in green. I believe there were actually two if not three of these, for reasons I'll explain later, so I've drawn two in here:
I have added two stacks of chairs that do not appear in any photos here, because I'm confident they had to be there. The first is indicated by the yellow rectangular outline against the rail. Why do I believe this? because all the chairs that have now appeared against the Smoke Room roof and the deckhouse had to come from somewhere. Also, they have appeared in addition to the stack that has appeared against the aft railing further outboard. And there's another reason. The photograph taken by Father Browne from the after end of the Promenade Deck, looking up at the starboard side of the Boat Deck and taken early that morning, shows the bench at that location to have been shifted outboard. There must have been a reason for this, and another stack of chairs against the after rail near the center line would explain this.
The second stack of chairs I've added is represented by the smallest yellow rectangle against the port side of the 2nd Class Entrance, between the door and the bench. We know from the Queenstown photo that this bench was shifted forward. Again, there must have been a reason. Placing two rows of chairs here is a reasonable explanation, and Bruce recalled a photo of chairs here at some point on Olympic. Note, too, that the aftmost benches have been shifted forward away from the rail. The same Father Browne photo referenced above also shows someone standing between the starboard bench and the rail, and other (later) photos show this as well for both benches. Why was this done? Perhaps just to make standing room against the rail; maybe the passengers themselves moved them for this reason. We don't know, but they were moved - that's a fact.
4. Now let's go back to Cherbourg.
The photographs arriving at Cherbourg don't reveal a whole lot, because they're not very sharp and were taken at a distance, but I'm fairly certain they do show not just one, but two stacks of chairs against the aft railing, which is where I've placed them here, consistent with the Queenstown diagram above.
At least one stack (port aft) had to be there by the morning after Cherbourg, because they show up in the Father Browne photo taken early that day. Could they have been brought out at Cherbourg, or after leaving Southampton? Before this line of thought is pursued, we have to consider where the chairs would have come from in the first place. There are no storage rooms shown on the GA plans at that end of the deck to accomodate chairs, and even the storage rooms that were there weren't large enough to hold that number of chairs. For this reason I believe they were already there at Southampton, just as shown at Cherbourg above.
It's also logical that no chairs would have been moved anywhere until the morning after Titanic left Queenstown. Why? First, the time between Southampton and Cherbourg was too short, and the Deck Department would have been too busy securing the cranes, shifting baggage and cargo in the holds, etc. At Cherbourg, there would have been an additional load of cargo and mail coming aboard, the cargo spans had to be stowed and the decks secured for sea, and time off watch for messing and sleeping has to be worked in overnight. Deck chairs? Not a priority yet. I'd bet the bank that only on the morning of the arrival at Queenstown did anyone find time to start shifting those chairs.
Lastly, we have
5. Departing Queenstown.
By the time Titanic departed Queenstown, a final photo taken from one of the tenders , very clear and close to the ship, shows that there are no more chairs stacked against the aft rail of the Boat Deck on the port side. (This is one of the final Titanic images in Father Browne's album.)In place of this stack, we can now see two dollies leaning against the rail (the four wheels of each are clearly visible). Where did the chairs go? That's anyone's guess, and always will be. We also don't know whether any of the other stacks of chairs had been moved by then.
As a side note, I've always wondered why all the chairs in the Queenstown photos are on the port side of the ship. The answer is simple. This was a westbound trip, which would put the sun on that side of the ship for most of the day, and the crew would know that's where any passengers would want to be.
#30083, "RE: Rearranging deck chairs on Titanic - Part II" In response to Reply # 0
Art: One aspect of your observations which I wanted to inquire about is the presence or absence of deck benches on either the port or starboard side of the Tank Room. In your diagrams you place one on the port side. Have you ever been able to identify a deck bench there in photos? I have looked but maybe I'm not looking at the right photo but so far I don't see one.
#30086, "RE: Rearranging deck chairs on Titanic - Part II" In response to Reply # 0
One interesting aspect of this discussion is what exactly was to be considered the "baseline" positions of deck benches? You used Olympic as guide which in the absence of anything else would have been reasonable. Quite a few years back we found a video which panned an original Titanic detailed boat deck plan. Nobody knows where they got it or whose it was or what happened to it. The camera panned only a section of it briefly. We managed to get a couple of screen captures from the video. The quality isn't too good but you can see benches flanking the aft GSC and on the port side of the tank room. These are what Olympic's plan specified also. We see in photos that a lot of things like hand railings on deck houses on Titanic are not installed yet. What I have wondered is whether the three benches mentioned above would have been installed in time? Should we consider this our actual "baseline" configuration?
#30098, "RE: Rearranging deck chairs on Titanic - Part II" In response to Reply # 2
my apologies; that bench on the port side of the Tank Room shouldn't be there. The Odell photo clearly shows its absence. I meant to take it out and forgot, and it carried through all the drawings. Actually, if I had to draw them again, I would cut them off at the Engineers' Promenade barrier near the after end of the Tank Room, because any bench on the port side of the Tank Room - whether it existed or not at some point - isn't relevant to this discussion about chairs.
As to your second question with the screen captures, well, that's interesting, isn't it? Guess what? I'm going to duck that question as to what the Olympic "baseline" should be, because we really don't need to know as a starting point for my discussion. The way Titanic was set up at Southampton would have sufficed. The only need for an Olympic configuration is really to establish the probable position (on Titanic) of two benches side by side on either side of the centerline against the aft-most railing.
#30102, "RE: Rearranging deck chairs on Titanic - Part II" In response to Reply # 3
Art: Actually my question was what should be the Titanic "baseline" since we have at least a portion of her detailed boat deck plan. The part which I think should at least spark some debate is whether or not the two benches flanking the aft skylight cover were actually planned and just didn't get installed like some of the handrails, etc. I was wondering if they should be part of the "ideal baseline". If you are going with Southampton as the "actual baseline" then no, they wouldn't be included. I don't want to hijack this away from your discussion of deck chairs but I thought there needed to be a little clarification of the deck bench situation. As far as the deck chairs go, on the promenade deck there were actual numbered positions for all the chairs. We see these in the plans in Susan Wels book "Titanic" and the E.E. O'Donnell book "The Last days of the Titanic. We also have photos showing numbering of these stations on metal strips attached to the underside of the boat deck deck beams. As far as the boat deck goes, I've never seen anything setting out prescribed locations of the deck chairs. I believe at least some if not all were to be stored in the deckhouse under the fourth funnel.
#30104, "RE: Rearranging deck chairs on Titanic - Part II" In response to Reply # 4
believe me when I tell you that I'm very familiar with the plan in the Wells book. I recently photocopied and enlarged the Boat Deck section to clearly see all the numbered deck chair locations when I place 595 photoetched brass ones on my model. (There were actually a total of 613 positions (615 at sea), but the Father Browne photos don't show any chairs placed against the aft wall of the A Deckhouse, so I've left those 18 off. But let's not hijack this thread, as you said.)
You're right that there were no numbered locations on the Boat Deck. But no storage in the No. 4 Funnel deckhouse. GA Plans only show a small Deck Store, 2nd Class Cloak Room and Deck Games store. Storage for deck chairs was in a small room adjacent the No. 2 Funnel casing, just inside the 1st Class area. I don't believe that store was intended to hold all the chairs on the Boat Deck; I don't think it was physically large enough to hold anywhere near the number of chairs that we've been discussing.
#30394, "Rethinking things a bit" In response to Reply # 0 Wed Feb-18-09 02:04 PMby Art Braunschweiger
After further photo study, I've realized some of my conclusions were incomplete, and I managed to introduce at least one error. So here is an updated set of drawings based on what I believe to be the case.
First, the "baseline" diagram at Southampton. As Bob pointed out, although there's one set of Olympic plans that show a bench on the port side of the Tank Room, we don't see that in the Odell photo, so it wasn't on Titanic. As its presence doesn't affect the aft-most benches, I've cut off the diagram at the barrier railing between the 1st and 2nd Class promenades. Note that this diagram does not include any stacks of deck chairs.
Next, Queenstown. In my previous drawing I made the mistake of placing a stack of benches in the location of the short bench against the after side of the No. 4 Funnel deckhouse to port. But one of the Cork Examiner photos clearly shows those chairs to have been stacked against the aft railing of the raised roof, and another shows them against the aft railing on the opposite side as well. In addition, I thought both benches against the aft rail of the Boat Deck had been moved outboard from the centerline. Not so. Only the starboard bench was shifted. And I've also realized I was in error about the benches being shifted forward, away from the rail. This is an illusion in the Father Browne photo. Closer examination shows the bench slats to be running in front of the man in the FB picture looking up from aft.
I also did a rough estimate of how many chairs were in each position which raised a new question. Even with the after starboard bench shifted outboard, there wouldn't have been enough space between the two to hold the number of benches that have now appeared on and around the raised roof area. Therefore, I believe that the stack against the aft rail to port was originally larger. Based on these changes, I've redone my Queenstown diagram accordingly with my rough count of chairs at each location.
Working backward to Cherbourg, assuming I'm correct about the Deck Department having no time to shift any chairs forward by then, this is where the stacks of chairs would have been originally located. This same diagram would have applied to the time of Titanic's departure at Southampton.
Returning to Queenstown, and moving ahead to her departure, as with my original diagram it's anyone's guess where that aft stack of chairs went. (The photo from the tender shows them no longer there, with the two carts leaned against the aft rail.)
However, it's possible that this group was moved forward to the 1st Class deck chair storage room on the port side of the No. 3 Funnel deckhouse. To me this is quite possible given that many of the ship's things came aboard almost at the last minute at Southampton. The after end of the Boat Deck, port side, could have been the point at which they were loaded on the ship by one of the dockside cranes, with the "1st Class chairs" shifted forward from there.