2nd Class Stewardesses how many is enough

Bob Godfrey

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21 women were employed on the Titanic as stewardesses. Three of them had specialised roles - the 3rd class Matron and in 1st Class the ladies' attendant and masseuse for the Turkish bath. The remaining 18 have traditionally been listed as 17 First Class stewardesses and just 1 (Lucy Snape) in Second Class, because that's how they appear in the Particulars of Engagement. It is now, however, generally accepted that Katherine Walsh (signed on as 1st Class) was actually a 2nd Class stewardess, as evidenced by the recollections of at least one 2nd Class passenger, Selena Rogers.

But I think we need to go further than this small increase in provision for 2nd Class. If there were only two stewardesses, then the ratio of 2nd to 1st Class provision would be just 1:8, which is completely at odds with the ratio of 1:3 or better which is found in all other areas of service involving stewards - bedroom, saloon, bath, boots etc. If we shift two more of these ladies from 1st to 2nd Class, then we have a ratio of 4:14 which fits in with the general provision. We would also have 14 stewardesses occupying 7 small cabins in 1st Class, and 4 to occupy the large cabin provided as stewardess accommodation in 2nd class.

Also, we know that Wallis (3rd Class), Snape and Walsh (2nd Class) were each engaged at a reduced rate of £3 as opposed to £3 10s which was the standard rate paid to stewardesses in 1st Class. Though we know that Walsh worked in 2nd Class, her name appears on the 1st Class signing sheet, but at the tail end of the list along with Bliss and Lavington, who also had the reduced pay rate of £3.

So my proposal is that Lucy Snape, Katherine Walsh, Emma Bliss and Bessie Lavington might all have worked on Titanic as stewardesses in 2nd Class, and roomed together on E deck in the cabin inboard of No 4 hatch on the starboard side. The anomalies I have mentioned here seem too obvious not to have been noticed by others, so perhaps I am just stating the obvious and have failed to notice an equally obvious alternative explanation? Comments welcomed.
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Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Bob,

Well found and suggested. Simply I have never looked at the wages paid; but have long thought it strange that there were so many stewardesses in 1st Class, with only 1, updated to 2 in 2nd Class and none in 3rd. The £3 as opposed to £3 10s suggests your thinking is spot on! - However, looking at the deck plans there was only a bunk bed and a sofa in the 2nd Class stewardesses room. - Unless the sofa could be provided with an upper Pullman berth?

Any thoughts as to why there were no [apart from Matron] stewardesses in 3rd Class?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Well, of course there were no bedroom stewards of either gender in 3rd Class. In fact, apart from a handful of people like the Matron and the Interpreter there were no specialised roles at all - just a provision of general duty stewards, about 45 in all. I guess in 3rd Class you got what you paid for!

Lester, I'm not sure what to make of the plans (TRMA presumably?) in this respect. I don't know whether the furnishings shown in the crew quarters are taken from actual H&W or White Star plans or specifications, or are perhaps educated guesses at what ought to have been there to accommodate the expected numbers. Do the same plans give an indication of the number of berths in the various stewardess cabins in 1st Class?
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Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Bob,

Thank you for the info on 3rd Class. Appreciated.

Yes and no. A-deck says cot-bed [that is why I wondered if there was only 1 stewardess] whereas the rooms on the other decks have 2 BD [variantly B and BED] & DRS.
All of the rooms have sofas.
Not sure if it is a clue and some of these are very hard too read; but A-deck says: Stewardess; B-deck says: 2 Stewardesses; C-deck [forward] says: Stewardess; [main-section] says: Stewardess [aft] says: Stewardess [according to the Shipbuilder 3 Stewardesses]; D-deck says: Stewardess and E-deck says: Stewardesses.
The room in 2nd Class reads: 2 BD & DRS and says: Stewardess.
Matron seems to have had a sofa.
The Lady Clerk & Rest Cashier 2 BD and a Sofa. The same for the Female Turkish Bath Attndts.

Hope that helps.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Many thanks, Lester, that's very useful. The room on A deck could well have been a 'single' as it was probably occupied by Miss Stap, who was the Senior Stewardess, though she doesn't seem to have been paid any more than the others so her status was not equivalent to that of a Chief Steward.

I imagine that the arrangements had a good deal of built-in flexibility and that any of the two-berth rooms could have accommodated at least one more as required on any particular voyage - probably not needed on this one since the staffing levels would have reflected the relatively low bookings. It would probably, in fact, have been quite easy to modify the capacity and/or furnishing of any of the crew quarters at short notice (as with the 'portable' 3rd Class accommodation), so I would be wary of regarding any arrangement as fixed.
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Jan 28, 2003
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Speaking personally (and ignorantly) I can't decide whether it was a shambles or near luxury. Matron had a sofa? Was this for her relaxation or was it to accommodate another stewardess when necessary? I just can't help it ... I keep visualizing these women trying to get into their corsets etc. (yes, well, we haven't discussed corsets for - oooh - nearly a year now, Bob) in these confined conditions.
 

Bob Godfrey

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I think Matron's sofa was all she had to sleep on, but in the other cases it would have doubled as an extra bed if needed. Monica, if you're into corsets (I've heard the rumours) I hope you're familiar with Titanic's No 1 corset story starring Winnie Troutt and Miss Norah ("Glory be to God, this boat will niver reach New York!") Keane.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Monica,

Looking at the deck plans there was no bed in Matron's room just a sofa, wardrobe and washbasin.

Hello Bob,

Thank you for your added thoughts and comments. As always they are appreciated.

Lester
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Having finally got hold of my own copy of the Bruce Beveridge deckplans, I can now see that the stewardess cabin on E deck does have just 2 berths. But on F deck, almost directly underneath but further inboard (amidst the toilets blocks), Bruce shows another stewardess cabin, again with 2 berths. This one had not been clearly labelled as such on other plans I have seen.

That leaves me with no doubt that there were 4 stewardesses in 2nd class - Walsh, Snape, Bliss and Lavington. All that remains is to establish which of these ladies occupied each cabin. It seems reasonable to assume that Katherine Walsh was berthed on F deck, as she is known to have served passenger cabins on that deck. Beyond that it's anybody's guess, but Katherine and Lucy Snape both died, which suggests an association. Katherine was older, more experienced and a kindly soul. Lucy was very young, very new and, by at least one account, very reluctant to leave the ship. Maybe Katherine was equally reluctant to leave Lucy.
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Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Lester, while in this thread I should correct an impression I gave in an earlier posting, concerning the division of duties among 3rd Class stewards. I said that they were unspecialised, but though they all were signed on as such and were expected to be versatile, it's clear that some were assigned particular duties on board - notably the 8 men who were responsible for looking after the passenger cabins in the aft accommodation areas. These men were not strictly bedroom stewards, but unlike some others they did 'have rooms' specified in the duty rosta, and a lot of rooms in each section.

I've seen accounts of travel in other White Star liners at the time which suggest that these men provided a very good service in answering to passengers' needs when the ships were running light. This included daily cleaning and tidying, making the beds and answering promptly to calls from the electric bells which were provided even for 3rd Class passengers. But with a full booking (ie about 60 per section) they must have been overstretched, especially in rough weather when emergency cleaning jobs would have been the main demand on their time.
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Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Bob,

Well found.- One of those things it is esay to overlook.

As a side issue I guess the 5th Mail Clerk would have had a sofa berth probably in the larger of the two rooms?

Thank you for the added information on the 3rd Class Stewards. - The Signing-on-Sheets list 43 of the 3rd Class Crew as Stewards, plus 4 Glory Hole Stewards. Do you know who the 8 were?

Regards,
Lester
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Hallo, Lester. John Hart certainly was one of the 8, and the only survivor. Presumably also William Cox, who according to Hart was seen leading a group up to the boat deck while he was on his way down. That's as far as I can take it. To the 43 you could add the hospital steward, the interpreter and the Chief and his 2nd, making 47 in all available to help the 3rd Class passengers 'on the night'. Plus Matron, who didn't lock herself away until late in the proceedings.

I see what you mean about the mail clerks. From a quick look the sofa would seem to be the only solution, but if so there ought to be 3 lockers, and I think there are only 2 (can't find my Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass!).
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Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Bob,

That was quick. Under 3rd Class I also have Pearcey, Albert: 3rd Class Pantry Steward; but I guess he was more like the Glory Hole Stewards.

I found my old magnifying glass. I see there is a boxed "S" which based on the 3rd Class rooms could be a sink, but what is the circle in the box next to the bunk beds? There seems to be one in the smaller room. Based on other areas they could be wash basins. So perhaps the "S" is something else? - Both rooms are labelled "2 Mail Clerks". So .... Seems we still have a number of mysteries left! - Please solve before retiring for the night! - A packet of Panadol is in the mail.

Re the Stewardesses: If as now seems certain there were 4 in 2nd Class, I count 14 for 1st Class. Do you agree 2 per room on B-deck, C-deck forward and mid-section and on D & E-decks; with 1 on A-deck and 3 in the room aft on C-deck?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Lester, I assume the rectangles with circles are the washstands. As for the rectangles with 'S' - as a last resort, I sometimes consult the key :) They are wall seats.

Bruce clearly intends these to be 2-berth cabins, and has labelled them as such. Looking at a late plan of Olympic, there again are the same two 2-berth cabins for mail clerks. Two of the men had 'Chief Clerk' status (one from each Postal service, US and UK), but that wouldn't explain just one man being housed elsewhere. Could be that 4 was the standard requirement, and there was one extra man just for the the maiden voyage to make absolutely sure that the sorting was completed on that occasion! If so, maybe he bedded down on a sofa, or maybe in a 2nd Class cabin.

Pearcey was the pantryman and wouldn't normally have had any contact with passengers, but he testified to having worked alongside the stewards to guide people to safety on the night of the sinking. He was paid more than the stewards, incidentally, though there would have been tips for stewards even in 3rd class so he probably took home less.

I've had the BB plans for only a couple of days, and having fun solving old mysteries and finding new ones in equal measure! Also carrying the rolled plans around with me all day, in best Thomas Andrews tradition. You will appreciate that I had a lot of trouble finding the keys to my wallet, having not used them much recently, but in this case it was worth the effort. :)
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Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Bob,

Yes I missed looking at the key. Looks like the forward 3rd Class rooms only had bunk beds and a wall seat?

Yes the BB plans are an asset.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Yes, I believe only the women and the families in the stern sections has cabin washstands provided in 3rd Class. I doubt they got the Vinolia Otto toilet soap, though! I need to spend a bit more time with these plans before commenting on the berthing situation for the 1st Class stewardesses, but I do agree that the room on A deck must be a single.
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Dec 6, 2000
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Thanks for that Bob. I now have a different picture of 3rd Class! No wardrobes and only the ladies and families with cabin wash basins. Single men and married couples in the forward section having to use communal ones! - Shows what another pair of eyes can do. - Can I please retain them on semi-permanent loan; but sorry no funds for the wallet!

Regards,
Lester
 
Dec 6, 2000
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For Monica Hall,

I must take a note to use a magnifying glass when looking at high detail deck plans.
There was as Bob has drawn to my attention a bunk-bed as well as the aforementioned sofa in Matron's room.
 
Feb 21, 2013
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Lloret de Mar, Gerona (Spain)
Well the talk on the 14 First Class Stewardesses' accommodations in the various decks never progressed! The rooms labelled "Stewardess(es)" that I could find are:

- 1 on A Deck forward (probably used by Snaps, the informal Chief Stewardess)
- 1 on B Deck mid-section ("2 Stewardesses")
- 3 on C Deck forward, mid-section and aft ("Stewardess")
- 1 on D Deck forward ("Stewardess")
- 1 on E Deck forward ("Stewardesses")

Assuming that every cabin was occupied by two stewardesses (despite of the label), that would mean that Snaps wasn't alone in her cabin as I read several times... Any thoughts on this? Or am I missing some of the cabins somewhere (which could be very well possible since it's 3.40 am and I'm falling asleep... damn! :mad:)
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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That conversation was several years ago but I think we discused the room allocations in another thread. Try the search engine. We can pin down some of them because we know which passengers they served and therefore which deck and 'section' they worked. But I don't think anybody has ever managed to place every one of them in the right room with absolute certainly.