Promenade areas and class divisions


Arun Vajpey

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I realize that class divisions with regard to public rooms were somewhat strictly enforced (in the ascending order, of course) on board ships like the Titanic but what about in the passenger promenade areas?

More specifically, would it be possible for a second class passenger accommodated in a sternward cabin to wander to the first class promenade areas towards the bow while taking a stroll at night?
 

Bob Godfrey

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A 2nd Class passenger wandering forward along the promenade deck would come first to the fenced-off engineers' prom, which had a low gate with 'no entry' sign. Further forward on the other side of the engineers' prom was another gated fence, then the 1st Class prom. So it was physically possible to get from 2nd to 1st Class if you were determined to do so, provided no crew member was there to stop you - which he certainly would if you were seen. But you couldn't simply 'wander' into 1st Class.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Thanks. Some friends back home in India are doing a sort of surreal play which includes, among other things, a brief Titanic sequence. In it, a fictitious female second class passenger is out for a stroll that fateful night and actually sees the collision. Knowing I was interested in the Titanic, my friend asked me for advice. I wanted to remain as close to the facts as possible.

I was under the impression that single female second class passengers were berthed near the stern (this woman is travelling alone). Therefore, for her to see the "allison" with the iceberg, she would have to be in a forward passenger promenade area.....at least I think so. As it was rather late at night and she was female, is it possible that any crew member encountering her would look the other way?
 
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Bob Godfrey

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Women (and families) traveling in 3rd Class would certainly be berthed at the stern while single men would be quartered in the bow, but I've not heard of any such segregation for 2nd Class. Bear in mind also that most passengers traveling alone would be obliged to share a cabin with one or more strangers (of the same sex, of course)..

The short answer to your last question has to be no. But out on deck late at night it's quite possible that she would encounter nobody. And of course in a fictional scenario anything is possible! Your friends might want to consider inventing a situation which made it necessary for her to break the rules. Or perhaps make her the kind of person who considers that rules are made to be broken.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I've not heard of any such segregation for 2nd Class. Bear in mind also that most passengers traveling alone would be obliged to share a cabin with one or more strangers (of the same sex, of course)..
I understand but as far as I can make out from BB's deck plans, there is no Second Class accommodation at all forward of the fourth funnel. Ironically, had this person been a single man and travelling in Third Class, he could have reached their open space near the forward well deck and easily seen the iceberg as the ship approached it. But it is not my play to imagine and my old friend says that it has to be a British woman travelling Second Class. That is built into their script and I have no say in that matter.
 
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If the fictitious woman was standing on the Second Class Section of the Boat Deck, she would be able to see the iceberg once the Titanic's lights illuminated it.

For my own Titanic story, I also had a few cases where the 'rules' had to be broken. I solved this by making one of my characters very appreciated by the Captain and his crew. That character seemingly saved the ship from colliding with another ship in Southampton.
 

Arun Vajpey

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A 2nd Class passenger wandering forward along the promenade deck would come first to the fenced-off engineers' prom, which had a low gate with 'no entry' sign. Further forward on the other side of the engineers' prom was another gated fence, then the 1st Class prom. So it was physically possible to get from 2nd to 1st Class if you were determined to do so, provided no crew member was there to stop you - which he certainly would if you were seen. But out on deck late at night it's quite possible that she would encounter nobody. And of course in a fictional scenario anything is possible! Your friends might want to consider inventing a situation which made it necessary for her to break the rules. .
Those guys back home are annoyingly naïve as far as Titanic matters are concerned and I am constantly telling them off for silly questions or ridiculous suggestions. Therefore, I do not want to be seen as bending my own 'rules' with them. As far as possible, I want to stick to what might have been, well, possible if this young woman really was a second class passenger on the Titanic. Apparently, she is just 19 years old at the time.

OK; using your pointers, although travelling alone, she would be sharing her second class cabin with, say, 2 other female passengers. Let us say they are older and too prim for our young lady who cannot sleep that night and so goes out for a stroll even though it is cold (being British, she would not mind bit of a cold). There is no 'necessity' for her to break any deck rules but she is young and curious on board a huge luxurious liner. Out on the deserted promenade deck, she first comes to the first fence that you mention and noticing that no crew member is around, opens the gate and walks through unchallenged. Coming to the second fence/gate, she realises that she is close to first class and with still no one to confront her, slips through for a quick look. Just as she goes forward (how far forward could she have gone unnoticed in the real world?) she is seen by a crew member who is about to challenge her when he is distracted by the three bells........is that scenario possible at all?
 

Bob Godfrey

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I think you can find an answer in Colonel Gracie's experience on the boat deck soon after the collision, when he did exactly what you've suggested (and in both directions). He toured the whole of the boat deck and saw nobody at all except a couple of passengers: "Going toward the stern, I vaulted over the iron gate and fence that divide the first and second cabin passengers. I disregarded the 'not allowed' notice. I looked about me towards the officers' quarters in expectation of being challenged for non-observance of rules ... but there was no sign of an officer anywhere, and no-one from whom to obtain any information about what had happened."
 

Arun Vajpey

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Also, according to Gracie the limit of visibility when looking forward or back along the boat deck was around 40 feet.
That part I would take with a very large chunk of salt. Remember that Gracie was a poorly controlled diabetic who died within a year of the collision due to complications associated with the condition. It is a fair bet to assume that he had significant diabetic retinopathy and/or maculopathy which would have seriously affected his vision. They did not know a lot about those problems back in 1912.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Maybe so, but in that respect Gracie's account is in accord with other survivor testimonies, the general consensus being that on the boat deck nothing could be clearly seen beyond a range of a few yards. In those times before radar it was crucial that nothing interfered with the crew's night vision, so the illumination on the open decks was minimal.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Thanks again. Incidentally, I got some more information from my friend. It looks like they are in their very early stages of this story. It is planned for the 50th anniversary of our primary/middle school leaving in April 2017. I am not sure that I'll be able to attend.

The girl's name is Myra Barnes and she is from Framlingham village in Suffolk, England. She is 19 tears old at the time of sailing on Titanic's maiden voyage. They wanted her to survive on one of the last boats to leave the Titanic and so I suggested "Ismay's boat" Collapsible C. They liked the idea after I explained that the originally supposed departure time of 01:40 am for that boat had been revised to somewhere between 01:55 am and 02:00 am.
 

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