Evacuation - Did 3rd Class Use Wrong Staircase?



Did most of the 3rd class passengers use the wrong staircase? The 3rd class stairway only led to the aft well deck while the 2nd class stairway led to the boat deck. I understand most of them followed each other to the wrong staircase and were packed together on the well deck when the ship broke in two. Should somebody have directed them to the right staircase?

Steward John Hart was asked about this:

Q - We have been told that there is an emergency door that can be opened and will let people from the third class into the alleyway, so that they could use the second class companion?
A - Yes.

Q - You did not go by that route, I know?
A - No.

Q - Did you see whether or not that door was open?
A - Yes, I could see the door was open.

Q - Could you see whether it was being used as a means of getting from the third to the second?
A - The people that were coming from the forward part of the ship were making right for the after-well deck of the third class, and one was following in the others’ train.

Q - And would they pass through that door?
A - No, they would have to pass that door but not through it.

Q - What I wanted you to tell me was, whether that door which you say was open in order that people could get through, was used at all?
A - I cannot tell you that; I saw nobody use it.

Was he referring to this door (blue circle) just aft of the Scotland road corridor? Did they pass this open door and walk towards the wrong staircase that took them all to the aft well deck by mistake?


Interesting hypothesis Aaron_2016. Since barely any of the crew would have known the ship was in danger and 3rd Class would have had to wait till 1st Class had gone first, It's highly likely no-one would have unlocked the door and so everyone would have gone to the nearest open door.
Both stairways you've indicated are 2nd class, although only the forward one goes to the boat deck. The aft one goes to B Deck. I read the testimony carefully and it's evident that Hart meant the aft one. He was assigned to 3rd class sections K and M, and the emergency door leading to the aft 2nd class stairway was in section K. That's the one you marked in red; the 3rd class stairway to the aft well deck is further aft.

The route Hart actually took (or testified that he took) was to go aft to the 3rd class entrance, up to C Deck, then across the aft well deck, into second class, then into first class to the first class forward grand staircase and thence to the Boat Deck. (The testimony alludes to it being the aft grand staircase near the barber's shop, but that doesn't go to the Boat Deck and Hart arrived directly opposite Boat No. 8, which is directly outside the forward grand staircase entrance on the Boat Deck.

This route is far from optimal, especially considering Hart was literally standing right next to the 2nd class aft stairwell and could have saved backtracking aft and then back to 2nd class.

Basically, Hart took the same route every other third class passenger going aft took -- the difference is that he went through a door into 2nd class, and did not stay in the aft well deck. Hart testified that many of the people going aft did not seem to know where they were going -- that is, many may have been fleeing the water with not a thought as to what to do once they arrive aft. They were, more or less, following each other. There was no one to guide them, and there was no "emergency exit" signage as there would be in the present day.

I hope that helps somewhat.