Carving the grand staircase


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mike disch

Guest
One visitor to the Titanic Exhibit in L.A., who works with wood, thought that a year (the fitting out period) wasn't long enough to do the intricate detail involved, and figured they must have started on the work prior to Titanic being transferred to the graving dock, and then assembled what was already, at least partially, completed. Anyone know?
 

Nigel Bryant

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Aug 1, 2010
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Wellington, New Zealand
Dear Mike,

I think that sounds right. Most of the carvings would of been done before the ship was in the dry dock. Most of the details, hand crafted, unlike to day would have taken ages. Areas such as the staircases, the lounges, smoking rooms, foyers, staterooms must of been prepared eariler on.

All the best,

Nigel
 
Jan 29, 2001
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It is my understanding that 500 Palestine wood carvers were an average to complete said wood-working to be fitted per OLYMPIC-CLASS STEAMER.

Myself, a 21-year tradesman (Carpenter) have seen many a fine hotel erected in an unsurmountable time!

Anything is possible with manpower...just have a look at the only man-made object visible from a space-shuttle viewport's vantage point...

...the GREAT WALL OF CHINA!

Michael A. Cundiff
USA
 
Nov 9, 2002
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Hey,
When you say Palestine Wood Carvers do you mean they were Palestinian? In a childrens' book that is kind of like a mix of "eye spy" and facts I believe there were workers taking carving into the ship during its building.

Sahand
 
Jan 29, 2001
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Sahand:

No *fairy tale* here...save for at this moment I do not recall if it were the CUNARD greyhounds or OLYMPIC class liners, of which shipbuilder actually employed the *500 Palestinian* wood carvers...

Michael A. Cundiff
USA
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
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According to Titanic Voices the carving on the Olympic class was done by British workers, including Charles Wilson, who did the carving round the clock. Other work was farmed out to various freelancers, who did things like turning wooden columns.
 

Bill Sauder

Member
Dec 19, 2000
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In "The Only Way to Cross," p 33 (HB) John Maxtone Graham writes about the Mauretania:

"In all cases, the carvings [used in first class] was extensive and meticulous... Three hundred craftsmen, imported from Palestine, had labored for months in the joinery shop and produced cords of stunning boiserie. Some were so proud of their work that they initialed the tops of the columns, a fact that came to light only when the [Mauretania] was scrapped."

A few notes.

Palestine was under British colonial rule at the time, and the political jurisdiction called "Palestine" was much larger than the term is understood today. I don't have a map in front of me at the moment, but I recall that Lebanon fell under the colonial jurisdiction "Palestine" as well, and that Lebanon had a Christian majority at the time.

Because I don't have the source that JMG quoted, I can't really say what the original author had in mind in using the term "Palestinian" ... Whether the indigenous Arab population of Israel (the modern understading of the word), Jewish craftsman living in Palestine, or Muslim or Christian Lebanese living in "politically greater colonial Palestine."

Bill Sauder
 
M

mike disch

Guest
I've been told the Grand staircase banister was carved in oak. Oak was hardly the most expensive wood around, as I understand it, and this seems out of character for the most luxurious ship ever built. Any comments?
 
Sep 28, 2002
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Northern Ireland
Sorry to disappoint you but, the Grand Staircase was built by Belfast men. The carvings were also carved by Belfast men, in fact, the same one who did the carvings in the Belfast City Hall (the Stone Titanic).

In fact there was a fault with the Grand Staircase which was filled with sawdust and glue.
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Hi Jim!
What and where was that fault on the staircase that was given makeshift repairs?

Thanks

tarn Stephanos
 
S

Scott R. Andrews

Guest
"...Filled? I thought they were solid pieces of wood?..."

Jeremy,

James is referring to the fault, not the paneling. Sawdust and glue is an old joiner's trick for filling nail holes, small imperfections, splits and crevices from splinters. Sawdust from the same type of wood was mixed with glue into a putty and packed into the fault. After the mix had cured, the area was sanded flush and then refinished. When done by someone with enough skill, repairs of this type were almost invisible, provided the damaged area was small and not in the middle of the work.

Scott Andrews
 
B

Brian R Peterson

Guest
Hi All!

Yes, using sawdust and wood glue is the best way to patch over nail holes and small splits and other imperfections in wood. I have become quite accustomed to doing this, not only to cover up scrape marks but to hide areas where the wood was damaged or had been re-nailed.

I had this privilege having helped my dad strip 50 + years of paint on stain and lead based paint off the woodwork in our turn of the century house - why someone would paint over such beautiful oak and mahogany carvings is beyond me, but then again they thought it to be stylish to paint the Oly's Grand Staircase GREEN - so there you have it.

Best Regards,

Brian
 

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