Open or enclosed hatchways?


Dec 11, 2012
The #1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 hatches pass through the passenger compartments. In some cases, it is clear that parts of these were enclosed with walls, but is that true in all cases? Were the hatchways enclosed with walls all of the way down to the cargo holds, roped off, or were they covered over with temporary decking?

Jay Roches

Apr 14, 2012
Hi Tim,

I'm back where my copies of Titanic: The Ship Magnificent are -- so I can try to answer this now. The full details are on page 193 and 194 of Volume 1.

At every deck, each hatchway was fitted with a coaming, a metal lip or edge along all edges of the hatchway. This is necessary to prevent people and water falling in. The coaming varied in height. Eight inches was the shortest and most common height, except for one case where there was no coaming (No. 2 hatchway at Orlop Deck; the intention was to avoid obstructing No. 2 hold in the area for motor cars). Roughly half the coamings were taller than 8 inches. At the weather decks (the tops of the hatchways), the coamings were 2'8" above the wooden deck. (Otherwise the measurement is from the steel deck, not including any wooden decking laid into that space.)

Trunked hatchways: If a hatchway has a wall built from the coaming to the deck above, forming a wall around the hatchway, it is called 'trunked'. Titanic's hatchways varied significantly from deck to deck. In some cases they were fully trunked (walled off on all sides), in which case there was a ladder inside the trunk that connected it to other decks. In some cases only one, two or three sides were closed off. In some cases the hatchway was fully open on all sides. On the Beveridge plans, you will notice a rounded corner when a hatchway is not trunked and a sharp corner when it is. This reflects reality in that untrunked corners were rounded to improve their strength. This should give you the right answer in most cases except for Hatch No. 6, which is trunked on the fore and aft sides on E, F and G (this results in no round corners).

The hatches at the weather decks had strong covers, as these needed to keep rain out. Inside, openings in passenger spaces could be fitted with wooden covers that rested on portable port-and-starboard beams. This would form a platform above the deck, as the covers ran between the top edges of the coaming. All hatches had waterproof tarps available at Decks D, E, F and G. In a few cases where the hatchway was open and not trunked, there were chain-and-stanchion barriers or gratings made of vertical bars like jail bars. The gratings are marked on the Beveridge plans. Also on the Beveridge plans, you will notice a hatchway is solid white where it is open and is divided up into rectangles where it is not. Some of the rectangular subdivisions clearly indicate metal gratings. There are two other types -- one with two dots at diagonally opposite corners, and one with a smaller rectangle inside. I am not totally confident I know the difference, although I think the rectangles-in-rectangles are a stronger type as they seem to be used where people would walk over them or where they would need to be used to place cargo on.

Sorry I couldn't just copy out the information from The Ship Magnificient, but I hope this helps.


PS: At places where access to cargo was possible, "hatch covers were secured by metal straps secured with Yale locks". Also, as should be obvious, there are doors indicated on the Beveridge plans and these were, for the most part, lockable. For example, Hatch 3, which led into baggage spaces at G and Orlop decks and the mail room as well, had lockable double steel doors that afforded a 5' wide entryway. On Orlop level, Hatch 3 also had a single door into the Specie Room. Baggage was packed tightly against the specie room gratings and that doorway when the room was in use. (Designed for carrying gold and silver bullion and coinage, the Specie Room wasn't used on Titanic's only crossing.)

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