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Grand Staircase Theory

Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by Kyle Naber, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. Kyle Naber

    Kyle Naber Member

    Over the years, there has been much debate over the drawings illustrated inspired by survivor Jack Thayer. I'm sure everyone here has seen the infamous drawings, so I won't bother to include them. In the fourth drawing, the bow is shown above the water along with the stern, and the middle is buckling with the caption "Foward end floats, then sinks (1:50 AM)." Although there is still controversy of the bow resurfacing, I myself have come to believe that this is a physical impossibility. This leads me to think that either survivors were mistaken, or the fate of the grand staircase was coming into play. In this video, rare footage shows the entire staircase lifting from its foundation:

    (Skip to 1:40)

    Because of the sudden intake of sea water combined with the sheer boyancy of the oak, the entire set was torn from its base. Would this have happened on that fatal night? I am aware that Cameron's set and the real thing had their differences, but they were similar in so many ways.
  2. jerry7171

    jerry7171 Member

    Not entirely about this specific subject, but in general, I am fascinated by how we keep learning new things as the years march on. It seems as though we all thought there weren't many unanswered questions about the night the Titanic sank. Now we're realizing we knew far less and have to almost continuously revise established facts to account for things we're rediscovering. All this a over a century after that tragic night!

    I've heard of the staircase theory too. The theory that Jack Thayer mistook the Grand Staircase for the bow rising up seems to stretch credibility at first glance. But considering the rapid change of events in those moments, the dim lighting, the cacophony of screams and noise, it isn't hard to understand why he thought he saw the bow rising out of the N. Atlantic temporarily. It makes perfect sense.

    Pieces of debris that might've* been from the Grand Staircase were seen in the area afterwards by passing ships. Since there hasn't been any debris associated with the Grand Staircase found at the bottom of the shaft where it rose from, I'll wager much of the heavier material, like the iron balustrades is somewhere further to the south and east God-knows-how-many miles away. Once the wood finally lost enough buoyancy to keep debris floating at the surface, the debris would have descended to the seabed and probably still lies there, never to be seen again.

    * I cautiously qualify the debris identification theory as there weren't any people who were familiar with the specific characteristic of the Grand Staircase who saw the debris to conclusively state what exactly they saw.
  3. Kyle Naber

    Kyle Naber Member

    Thank you! That reminds me...the second class barber shop was located on C deck just beside the aft grand staircase. I was reading over a PDF called "The Facts - What did the Survivors see of the break-up of the Titanic." And in this, the testimony from
    Maj. Peuchen supports this theory:

    "It was intact at that time. I feel sure that an explosion had taken place in the boat, because in passing the wreck the next morning - we steamed past it - I just happened to think of this, which may be of some assistance to this inquiry - I was standing forward, looking to see if I could see any dead bodies, or any of my friends, and to my surprise I saw the barber's pole floating. The barber's pole was on the C deck, my recollection is - the barber shop - and that must have been a tremendous explosion to allow this pole to have broken from its fastenings and drift with the wood."

    This leads me to believe that there wasn't an explosion in the ship, rather it was the aft grand staircase lifting up and out of the ship, taking parts of the barber shop (which was directly next to it) with it. So if this were to happen with the aft grand staircase, then this makes me think that the same exact thing would also happen with the main staircase. When survivors say that the bow rose up, what they were really seeing was the black silhouette of a massive staircase lifting up from the hole in the glass dome. And the ones who thought that they felt it was rising back up, it was the staircase pushing up underneath their feet!

  4. jeffjenlucas

    jeffjenlucas Member

    I have always trusted Jack Thayer's account of the sinking, and I believe something did rise and fall over to his left field of vision after Titanic broke in two. For a while I guessed maybe it was just a giant mass of air bubbles. But I think his vision was keener than that and he witnessed a solid shape that appeared to have been the tip of the bow but couldn't have been. Your Grand Staircase theory is fascinating. Time dissolved much of the wood on the ship. How did The bronze Cherub get wrenched away though?
    Cherub Sat At Base of Grand Staircase
    TitanicCherub-150x150.jpg When the water was causing the RMS Titanic to sink, it began to invade the parts where the passengers were gathered. One place was the Grand Staircase, and at one point, the water crashed through the dome over the top of it. Water came rushing down the stairs of the Grand Staircase, and at the bottom of the A deck staircase sat a bronze cherub. There is speculation that people began to panic as the water came in, and someone may have grabbed onto the base of the cherub as the water began to fill the room. One foot of the bronze cherub was attached to the base, and the fact someone may have grabbed onto it might be what caused it to come loose from the base. Years later, the beautiful cherub would be found in the debris field at the bottom of the ocean, and brought to the surface for conservation.
  5. jeffjenlucas

    jeffjenlucas Member

    ...It looks to me that no person wrenched base of the bronze Cherub "loose". Instead, the entire Grand Staircase itself broke away from the bronze Cherub and floated upward, and then the bronze Cherub broke away from the Grand Staircase, and tumbled downward.
  6. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    In fairness, since the Grand Staircase was made of wood, even if it remained in the wreck, it would probably be a thick pile of sediment by now. So there probably wouldn't be much of the remnants to find.

    The 1st class Barber Shop (as well as the aft grand staircase) was right above the reciprocating engines, the part of the ship that was ripped out when the Titanic split - so basically everything - including the barber's pole and staircase - was ripped out of the ship, regardless of the buoyancy of the staircase.
  7. That cherub is not from the A Deck landing. The ship was flooded there was no such spectacular dome implosion as shown in the movie also it is very unlikely that many people were inside. The wreckage in the debries field show more that parts of the staircase find its way out of the ship though the break area aft.
  8. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    The metal frame of the dome was found in the debris field. Not sure if it came from the forward or aft staircase. If the forward staircase remained in place, should this frame be inside the wreck and not in the debris field? - unless it is part of the aft staircase which I understand was destroyed by the break up and descent.



    If Charles Joughin's timing was accurate and he heard the ship breaking apart shortly after leaving his cabin on E-deck, then the sea would have rushed in very rapidly, flooding decks A,B,C,D,E with such a roar and speed that perhaps it broke the staircase from its foundations and lifted the whole thing up? If each deck had gradually flooded, then the staircase would have probably remained intact inside the ship.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2016
    Steven Christian likes this.
  9. That piece of debris is from the aft Grand Staircase.

    I don't really buy the whole "staircase broke free" theory. I think the forward Grand Staircase was mostly flooded, causing it to lose so much buoyancy it never broke free. And the aft Grand Staircase was ripped apart completely when the ship broke up, which is why so many pieces of it are found in the debris field.
    Seungho Kang and HSRP131346 like this.
  10. Joughin had been mentioned for another strange theory. Aside that the foundation of the staircase landing on D Deck is still inside the wreck Joughin was clear where he was and when he heard the breaking of metal.

    6040. Tell us what happened? - I went to the deck pantry, and while I was in there I thought I would take a drink of water, and while I was getting the drink of water I heard a kind of a crash as if something had buckled, as if part of the ship had buckled, and then I heard a rush overhead.
    6041. Do you mean a rush of people? - Yes, a rush of people overhead on the deck.
    6042. Is the deck pantry on A deck? - Yes.

    6043. So that the deck above would be the boat deck? - Yes, I could hear it.
    6049. You say that you heard this sound of buckling or crackling. Was it loud; could anybody in the ship hear it? - You could have heard it, but you did not really know what it was. It was not an explosion or anything like that. It was like as if the iron was parting.
    6050. Like the breaking of metal? - Yes.
    6051. Was it immediately after that sound that you heard this rushing of people and saw them climbing up? - Yes.

    There are remains of the forward staircase in the debris field too which left the ship aft though the break area.
  11. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    I don't think the speed of water rushing in would have affected the buoyancy of the staircase, although it may have jarred it loose.

    Christophe, were the Grand Staircase flooded, it would aid, not hinder, the staircase from breaking free. Wood floats - immerse a massive block of wood in water and it will float. The question is, was the staircase buoyant enough to rip it loose from the rest of the ship?
  12. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    I'm not sure I buy the whole "staircase just up and floated away" theory, but I find it easier to believe that parts of the staircase floated up and out, rather than them rolling back past all those cabins or the dinning room out through the back end where the ship was torn. The idea of any bits of the staircase with a good 40 mph of momentum carrying it forward suddenly flying out in the opposite direction down the whole dinning room while all of those wooden tables just sit there is a bit much to believe.
  13. The easiest way out for any broken free parts of the staircase would be opened as soon as the sky dome broke. When did that happen?
  14. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    It would have either been A. When the ship hit the bottom sending a shock through the ship, B. When the ship splintered, C. While there was still a bubble of air under the dome, but it was flooded above. or, I suppose D. When the Grand Staircase floated up and out, taking the ceiling with it.
  15. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    Survivor William Mellors wrote a private letter soon after the sinking which is rather graphic and can be found below. Before the starboard collapsible was released the ship was heeling over to port. William said: "There seemed to be a tremble run through the whole of the ship and the next thing we heard were loud reports inside which I think were the water-tight doors giving way and before you could say Jack Robinson there seemed to be mountains of water rushing through the doors, and I was swept away...."

    Do you think something gave way below decks causing water to rush up the Grand staircase and spill out onto the boat deck? Was he hearing the breaking up of the ship and witnessing mountains of water rushing through the corridors now open to the sea aft and watching the water rushing forward through the ship and spilling out of the doors onto the boat deck sweeping him off his feet?

    Full letter:

    Letter from William Mellors to Dorothy Ockenden

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2017
  16. Remains of the forward staircase in the debris field like the remains of the D Deck Candelabra (with some cable) show that such items left the ship aft trough the break area.
    That was still "close" to the water surface as remains of wood from different landings of the forwards staircase were discovered and recovered from the sea from the Minia.
  17. Kyle Naber

    Kyle Naber Member

    Just an idea, but maybe it was the beginnings of the staircase breaking loose. The water pressure around it was growing greater and greater, and I believe that there were loud cracking noises that sounded almost like explosions. Did Joughin really hear the ship starting to separate? In my opinion, I don't see a gradual breakup occurring- I think that once a structure begins to fail, it does it all at once. However, it is a different story with the staircase: here, it is not a matter of dead weight hanging hundreds of feet in the air, it's a massive structure attempting to float as it naturally should. I can see a dome implosion happening once the skylight visible from the deck becoming completely submerged. This is when water intake would be the most rapid, and that's when I believe that the grand staircase broke loose. Perhaps the staircase beginning to break pushed water up and out of the first class entrance onto the deck which washed people clear of the ship? Or maybe the perception of the event was more dramatic in the eyes of the victims. Was there really a huge wave as they describe, or was it simply water beginning to claim the ship?
  18. Sam Brannigan

    Sam Brannigan Member

    I'm finding it hard to imagine the staircase "popping" out of the ship in one piece. Is there any evidence it was built as a single unit? That seems bizarre and needlessly, ludicrously difficult - surely the staircase was fitted deck by deck as individual units assembled from many pieces.
  19. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

  20. HSRP131346

    HSRP131346 Member

    I've read that the staircase's construction wasn't purely out of wood but was more of a veneer, it's main structure was actually made of steel bar. I'll find the link.