Further expeditions to third class

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Ginni-Rae Hooker

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I am new to this site so I don't know whether this topic has been addressed as yet.
Has there been any expeditions to the wreck where they have been able to reach the 3rd class decks?
In finding or accomplishing this were they able to determine if the gates to this class were locked upon the passengers during the sinking?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Ginni-Rae, there were no gates to be locked. The idea of the Third Class passengers being locked away below decks with water around their ankles is a myth which has been reinforced by feature films. They did often suffer from a lack of effort to help them find their way to the boat deck over unfamiliar territory, and on some routes there were a few obstacles to be overcome, but no physical barriers more restrictive than a low garden fence. Some left it too late simply because they were ordered to await instructions which never came, not because they were physically restrained to any great degree. Those who used their initiative and struck out on their own generally did get to the boat deck, where passengers of all Classes were treated equally.
 

Kyrila Scully

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In addition to what Bob said, those locked gates you saw in the documentaries that the producers claimed kept the 3rd class passengers from reaching the boats - well, those locked gates were actually barriers to cargo areas or food storage areas.

Kyrila
 
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Ginni-Rae Hooker

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Thanks guys for the information, gosh who would have known?
But it still leaves the question open as to whether expeditions have been down to the lower third class decks yet? And if so, were there any photos taken?
 

Dan Cherry

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Ginni-Rae,
if memory serves, a cable television special entitled "Titanic - Secrets Revealed" hosted by Bernard Hill, who played the captain in the 1997 movie, has several scenes from an expedition where some of the third class areas were briefly explored (I am thinking it was the 1987 expedition but don't quote me) - this documentary showed the closed gates Kyrila mentions, and a few pieces of recognizable shipboard objects. As the third class area was plain and less opulent than the first class areas, there would be less to 'discover' - no wall sconces, chandeliers, ornate bed posts or carved woodwork are to be found in the third class areas. In several places deep in the ship, particularly in and around the cargo areas, the ship's interiors are a jumble of debris and mud. Of course, James Cameron has proved that surprises still exist within the wreck, just waiting to be discovered by the 21 century audience. Personally, I would like to see the Turkish bath and the possibility all that woodwork is still recognizable. Other highlights might include Scotland Road on E-deck, as well as the swimming pool, post office and sorting room (which has been explored just enough to recognize that the mail bags were covered in a pink mass of sealife and that one of the wooden tables was barely held together by its connectors). The swimming bath and squash courts were basically barren rooms in their design, and aside from possibly seeing a few changing room cubicles, the wall clock and the depth gauge, the swimming pool might be a 'disappointment' to view. A period illustration of the squash court suggests this room was little more than four walls, a floor and a ceiling.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Kyrila,

You say: "those locked gates you saw in the documentaries that the producers claimed kept the 3rd class passengers from reaching the boats - well, those locked gates were actually barriers to cargo areas or food storage areas."

Would you like to tell me where such gates were located? - I know of none!

None of the deck plans I have show any doorways between passenger areas and food or cargo storage areas. The food storage areas were reached via the cargo hatches for loading and by a "sealed" stairway from just aft of the 2nd Class Pantry; leading down to the Orlop deck. - By a "sealed" stairway I mean one that has no doorways leading off of it into other areas. - Just like the forward 2nd Class stairway where it passed up through A-deck.

Regards,
Lester
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Ginni-Rae,

There have been several "gate related" threads. - You should be able to locate them by typing in key words such as "Escape Routes" into the "Advanced Search box " at the top of this page.

Briefly, as advised by Bob, the gates at the top of the outside stairs from the well decks could have been climbed over.
However, I believe that some 3rd Class passengers could have been trapped if the Water-Tight Doors along Scotland Road has been closed.
The only internal areas where 3rd Class passengers could have been faced with locked gates [but I believe no stairs] was along Scotland Road, near the 1st and 2nd Class stairs and perhaps at the Steward's Stairway. - I believe that those doors are likely to have been solid, rather than a Grill type in order to prevent those passing along Scotland Road from seeing into 1st and 2nd Class. - However, I am open to correction on that!
It is also likely that there was a gate at the top or the bottom of the flight of "2nd Class stairs" that led up from rooms G-1 to G-40. Those rooms could be let to either 2nd or 3rd Class. I believe that 3rd Class passengers occupied some of those rooms, so the 2nd Class stairs would have been locked off, be it and the top or bottom. - 3rd Class would have then used a "sealed" stairway that ran up through the 2nd Class area of the port side of F-deck to emerge on Scotland Road. - see the deck plans on this web-site.

I hope that helps,
Lester
 
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Ginni-Rae Hooker

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Thanks a lot for all of your information, I have now looked up "escape routes" (thanks to Lester) and have put to rest a question that has been on my mind for some time.
To Dan Cherry, I too share your interest in the images of the rooms you discussed and hope to see them further explored.

I am not as half as knowledgeable as most of you readers (especially Lester - Titanic is obviously one of your great passions) but through these discussions I hope to learn more.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Ginni, you may want to check the deck plans sometime and you can do this by going to the Site Home then scrolling down to the section with the plans. Just click on whatever deck you're interested in.

Going over the third class area, you're not going to have the easiest time in the world finding many places where any locked gates could have been located below decks. There may be a couple of spots, but mostly what you'll see is a maze of dead ends and doors that could have been locked. When nothing is going wrong, this is no big deal. One would have the luxury of time in finding one's way around. In a crisis however...one where the ship is sinking and hundreds of frightened passengers know this...it can be a real rat warren where one could easily get lost. I have no doubt that quite a few did, and with fatal consequences.
 

Bob Godfrey

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A ship the size of Titanic would, like any large building ashore, contain many locked doors. But these were designed to keep people out of areas that did not concern them, not to keep them in when they wanted to vacate the premises. As Michael points out, it was as easy (maybe easier) to get trapped below by venturing too far than by staying put.
 
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Hi Michael,

You say: "Going over the third class area, you're not going to have the easiest time in the world finding many places where any locked gates could have been located below decks."

Have I failed to identify the locations? - I had hoped I had made it clear that the only places where I am aware of any possible "located gates, below decks" are along Scotland Road and at the top or bottom of the lowest section of the after 2nd Class stairway. That is the section between G and F-decks. - Do you know of any others?

The only major dead ends that I can locate are in the forward section on E and F-decks. But surely the passengers in those rooms would have left early on and I doubt that passengers from the after section would have walked forward [and even down a deck] into rising water to find a way out.
 
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Brian R Peterson

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I agree with Lester on this, he makes some fine points to which I will add.

From my own research on the subject, I too found that the only physical barriers were no more obstructive than a garden fence and were only found on G - F Decks.

I believe the main obstacle preventing most Third Class and steerage passengers from making it above to Boat Deck was the language barrier....I am sure it can be stated that most of the Titanic immigrants could not speak read or write English so all of the deck markers i.e. A B C D E F Deck, were of no use to them.

Also this prevented them from communicating with any members of the crew they may have encountered as well, further frustrating the escape efforts of many.

I also read someone comparing the Titanic to a large building and the ease of becoming lost, which is also an excellent point.

Wandering around in unfamiliar surrounds with not clue one as to where to go can create just a slight problem....especially on a ship as large as Titanic and not being able to communicate clearly with anyone who may be of assistance further adds to the problem.

In conclusion, Third Class was not locked below and left to die, many simply just did not know where or how to get up to the boats.

Best Regards,

Brian
 

Bob Godfrey

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Language difficulties might have been a problem for some, but in general this isn't borne out by the statistics of survival. In fact, the British in 3rd Class had one of the lowest survival rates - just 16%. Several non-English speaking nations achieved more than double that, including the Italians, Norwegians, Lebanese, Russians and Chinese. A lack of understanding of instructions (which often amounted to "wait here for further orders") was possibly a distinct advantage.
 

Kyrila Scully

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Brian, I've also heard that, but I can't place where. But I do concur that there is a resource to back up your statement "that the only physical barriers were no more obstructive than a garden fence and were only found on G - F Decks." I just can't remember where. You know, I've been to the Titanic Ship of Dreams a lot, and had conversations with John Joslyn, and I'm thinking some of the things mentioned in this thread that Lester has a problem with - well, it may be that I heard it in conversations with John and some of the other people there, who are quite expert on the subject of Titanic, and have to be, because they're faced with thousands of questions every day. But then I have about 90 books about Titanic, and it could be I read it in one of those, but you'll have to forgive my poor memory because of age, menopause and genetic disposition to forgetfulness, if I can't place exactly where I read it.

Kyrila
 
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I seem to recall one of the stewards interviewed at the Inquiries saying that many people down in 3rd class would NOT leave their luggage or rooms. Even when the stewards tried to get them to leave, they refused.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Well Kyrila, it would be nice if you and or Brian would look at Titanic's deck plans and suggest where such "garden fence barriers" could have been; or might you be saying that the gate that I spoke of as being at either the top or bottom of the lowest section of the after 2nd Class stairway between G and F-decks was not the type shown in films, but a climb over gate?

You seem to be speaking of multiple "garden fence barriers" . - Perhaps one at the top and one at the bottom of that flight of stairs?
And if rooms G-1 to G-40 were let to 2nd Class passengers one at the bottom of the 3rd Class stairs? Would that mean one also on "E-deck" to prevent 3rd Class passengers from descending from Scotland Road? - I did not mention a gate [or gates] for that flight of stairs before because as I said I understand that rooms G-1 to G-40 were 3rd Class for the Maiden Voyage.
 
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Brian R Peterson

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Hi Lester,

The gates I mention, IMO from seeing elevator door gates from the era, were probably made of wrought iron and i suspect there were two gates that met ad locked in the middle and these gates were of a scissor like design in that they could be folded away when not in use. My reference to them being flimsy like garden fences was perhaps not the best one.

And yes, I was referring to the 2nd Class stairway gates, and also of the possible E Deck gate, I failed to mention that in my post because I can only speculate that it existed though it would be plausible since, as you mention, Third Class was occupying what IMO normally would have been 2nd Class space.

Best Regards,

Brian
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Brian,

Thank you for that. OK, so they met in the middle. Do you believe that they were they full deck height?

I guess we have up to 4. Two on G-deck, one on F-deck and 1 on E-deck.

Any thoughts about the style of the dooways from Scotland Road into the 1st and 2nd Class Entrance-ways and to the area of the Steward's Staircase?
 

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