Post office

Hitch

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Jan 6, 2006
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Hi everyone.

It is known that Titanic had a post office onboard. Before Titanic set sail lots of mail bags came onboard. Now did the postal clerks only separated tows the whole journey, or did they also excepted letters from passengers? And when would they sent tows out to all the people? I mean, they could end send them onboard, right?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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I'm not sure what you are asking here, Carl, but certainly the passengers could post letters onboard. These must have been sorted as those bound for addresses on this side of the Atlantic were taken off at Queenstown.
 
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Andrew Williams

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Besides Queenstown, the postcard from William Dibden Jr was posted from Cherbourg.
 
Feb 15, 2005
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But say there were many many letters to sort. could the Post Office crew do it all in a week? Or wasn't the actual sorting of the letters one by one not done onboard but on land?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Certainly the postal workers were there to sort the mail. There was a handling room where the mailbags were stored and a sorting room above that. 4th Officer Boxhall, who visited this area to observe the flooding, mentioned seeing the letters in the sorting racks. Sorting is of course done in stages. Once it left Queenstown, everything the Titanic was carrying was destined for North America and probably only for the US, but the bags might also have been pre-sorted into consignments for individual states, with the Titanic workers taking it one stage further by sorting for individual cities and towns. Or they might have been sorting by State and taking it no further. That would have suited the usual limit of 40-50 pigeonholes per man.

Hand sorting was generally done at the rate of about 8-900 items per man per hour. These men were experts, so let's say 1000. With 5 men and a working day of say 10 hours that's 50,000 items or 25 bags per day. Titanic was carrying 200 bags of registered mail, so it would have taken them about 8 days to complete a single-stage sort. Less of course if their working day was longer, but they would have been hard-pressed to complete the job by the time the ship docked in New York.
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Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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A note: stamps cancelled aboard the Titanic would bear the Transatlantic Post Office cancellation instead of the normal offshore town/city location. These cancellations are getting scarce, even on other ships from that period.
 
Aug 10, 2002
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The Public Record Office in Kew has a microfilm showing all the documents relating to claims by family members of the lost postal clerks. It is rather interesting to see how this claim was handled.
Regards,
Charlie Weeks
 
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Jennifer Ellington

Guest
Hello everyone,
My daughter has a question--
How did the Titanic's passengers get a message to the wireless operators?
We've looked on this site and in our books, but can't find anything other than (correct me if I'm wrong) the wireless room was located aft of the bridge on the boat deck (did I use my nautical terms correctly?)
Thanks,
Jennifer
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Hallo, Jennifer. You took your message to the Purser's enquiry office, where it was written onto a Marconigram form and you paid the fee. From there the form was sent direct to the wireless room through a delivery system which used pneumatic tubes. Incoming messages for passengers followed the opposite route and were delivered from the Purser's office to the passenger's cabin by a bellboy. The charges were quite high, by the way. A 15-word ship-to-ship Marconigram cost about ten shillings - a week's wages for the bellboy who delivered it.
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Jennifer Ellington

Guest
Thanks for the info. Bob.
Sorry it's taken so long to reply--we've just been busy lately.
Thanks again,
Jennifer
 
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João Carlos Pereira Martins

Guest
Was possible to ask for the newspapers headlines during the voyage by using the wireless messages? Did the passengers maintain themselves informed?

Best, João
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Ocean liners of the period provided passengers with daily 'newspapers' printed onboard. These covered mostly 'local' news of onboard events, etc, but also included brief summaries of world news events, which were obtained from daily broadcasts by the Marconi Company. There would generally be around 6 daily items of world news, all of course covered very briefly, like this example from 1906:

Moroccan Trouble
MADRID, Oct 28th

The situation of affairs are again assuming a threatening aspect. French and Spanish warships have been despatched to Moroccan waters. If found necessary forces will be landed.