You might be surprised at what might be tolerated even in the upper classes, to say nothing of steerage. Chamber pots have been found in the debris field and they weren't used to do ones "business" out in the passageways.
>>>>>>>I'm guessing, though, that chamber pots were still pretty much in use, considering the inadequate numbers of toilets aboard. (by today's standards) Chamber pots have been found in the debris field and they weren't used to do ones "business" out in the passageways. <<<<<<<
Ugh! I hope that even the most...er...uninformed of the steerage passengers used it for "No.1" only? Even that is a disgusting thought.
(Please do not be graphic in your answers if it was otherwise!)
The North Atlantic was rarely a millpond, so on most crossings there would have been at least a few passengers confined to their beds with mal-de-mer. That would have been the main reason for stocking a good supply of chamber pots. During rough crossings there were also 'cans' strategically placed in the corridors, but the stewards still spent a good deal of time wielding mop and bucket!
Sounds like you wouldn't have been a happy traveller a hundred years ago, Arun. There were still plenty of trains back then without corridors and therefore no toilet facilities, and this had been the norm not many years before. Men could equip themselves with a device based on a rubber tube and reservoir strapped to the leg, while ladies might carry am extra handbag containing a small chamber pot. When you gotta go (and where you gotta go) you gotta go. I'll spare you the diagrams.
>>>.>Sounds like you wouldn't have been a happy traveller a hundred years ago, Arun. <<<<<<
If even one-third of what you say is true, you can bet both our lives that I would not have been a happy traveller back then. I confess that I am paranoid about hygiene and even in the best hotels the first thing I check is the loo. As long as there are clean toilet facilities, I don't mind roughing-it otherwise.
>>Ugh! I hope that even the most...er...uninformed of the steerage passengers used it for "No.1" only? Even that is a disgusting thought.<<
Since some would not have been troubled by "Offloading" the previous night's dinner in a passageway, the chamberpot would have been the better choice.
A little sidebar here as the question of health and sanitation is one of the big reasons that a faithful replica of the Titanic will never be built for revenue service as much as any number of dreamers might otherwise wish: She would not meet current health and sanitation codes. These days, en suite bathroom and toilet facilities are not only taken for granted in even the most basic accomadations, they are required.
In 1912, even a number of the 1st Class cabins didn't even have a toilet! If you had to....errrrr...send an e-mail to whatever elected official you love to hate, you either used a chamber pot or went to one of the public restrooms to send your message.
I should point out that I used the word 'can' to refer to 'sick cans', not the US Navy euphemism for a toilet. Here's a typical report of conditions in steerage (NOT 3rd Class) in a German liner c1908:
"Floors ... are generally of wood, but floors consisting of large sheets of iron were also found. Sweeping is the only form of cleaning done. Sometimes the process is repeated several times a day. This is particularly true when the litter is the leavings of food sold to the passengers by the steward for his own profit. No sick cans are furnished, and not even large receptacles for waste. The vomitings of the seasick are often permitted to remain a long time before being removed. The floors, when iron, are continually damp, and when of wood they reek with foul odor because they are not washed."
"During days of continued storm, when the unprotected open deck cannot be used at all, the berths and the passageways between them are the only space where the steerage passenger can pass away the time. When to this very limited space and much filth and stench is added inadequate means of ventilation, the result is almost unendurable. Its harmful effects on health and morals scarcely need be indicated. Two 12-inch ventilator shafts are required for every 50 persons in every room; but the conditions here are abnormal and these provisions do not suffice. The air was found to be invariably bad, even in the higher inclosed decks where hatchways afford further means of ventilation. In many instances persons, after recovering from seasickness, continue to lie in their berths in a sort of stupor, due to breathing air whose oxygen has been mostly replaced by foul gases. Those passengers who make a practice of staying much on the open deck feel the contrast between the air out of doors and that in the compartments, and consequently find it impossible to remain below long at a time. In two steamers the open deck was always filled long before daylight by those who could no longer endure the foul air between decks.
Wash rooms and lavatories, separate for men and for women, are required by law, which also states they shall be kept in a 'clean and serviceable condition throughout the voyage.' The indifferent obedience to this provision is responsible for further uncomfortable and unhygienic conditions. The cheapest possible materials and construction of both washbasins and lavatories secure the smallest possible degree of convenience and make the maintenance of cleanliness extremely difficult where it is attempted at all. The number of washbasins is invariably by far too few, and the rooms in which they are placed are so small as to admit only by crowding as many persons as there are basins. The only provision for counteracting all the dirt of this kind of travel is cold salt water, with sometimes a single faucet of warm water to an entire wash room. And in some cases this faucet of warm water is at the same time the only provision for washing dishes. Soap and towels are not furnished. Floors of both wash rooms and waterclosets are damp and often filthy until the last day of the voyage when they are cleaned in preparation for the inspection at the port of entry. "
I could go on. And on. And on. But you've got the general picture. Compare and contrast with conditions in 3rd Class on a British liner of the same period:
"(Floors) were scrubbed every day by the stewards on their hands and knees, and were well dried, so as to avoid all unnecessary dampness. At 9 o'clock each morning all the passengers except those who were ill or indisposed were requested to vacate their rooms. The stewards then went through them all, giving each such attention as it needed - making beds and sweeping or scrubbing floors. At intervals in the hallways were placed cans to receive waste. These were not frequent and convenient enough to be used by all in cases of seasickness, but they did afford a place for other waste. If a criticism might be offered on the staterooms it could only be on the lack of cans to use in case of seasickness. The stewards were untiring in cleaning up the results of the innumerable cases of illness resulting from the rough sea during the first few days. Many of them provided such cans as were available for this disposition."
"There were numerous toilet rooms, containing usually five basins each, with a faucet of running water and five toilets. The basins were of the conventional shape and size and were supplied each with a stopper that could be applied so as to retain water in the basin or removed to allow its escape. There was always an abundance of soap, and large roller towels were supplied frequently enough to insure the presence of clean ones at all times. The floors in these rooms were of tile. These were practically always in a fit condition for use. Only when an accident occurred, occasioned by a leak in some pipe, was the floor wet, and this was remedied as soon as discovered. The toilet rooms were all located on the main deck and as much as possible immediately at the head of stairs leading up from the sleeping quarters. In no instance was it necessary to cross the open deck to reach a toilet room, and in many cases it was not even necessary to cross a passageway other than the one on which the stateroom opened"
There were great differences in all respects (eg sleeping accommodations, food, privacy, general quality of service) between 3rd Class and steerage. Note that the largest German liners generally offered 3rd Class and steerage (4th Class), and that it was quite common for a steerage passenger to pay the extra for an upgrade to 3rd Class within hours of stepping aboard!
>>>>>> There were great differences in all respects (eg sleeping accommodations, food, privacy, general quality of service) between 3rd Class and steerage. Note that the largest German liners generally offered 3rd Class and steerage (4th Class), and that it was quite common for a steerage passenger to pay the extra for an upgrade to 3rd Class within hours of stepping aboard! <<<<<<
And I used to think that sea travel was romantic.
If I had the misfortune of being a steerage passenger under THOSE conditions, I would have paid extra to be allowed to jump overboard!
Nah, you'd have put up with it for a few days to get to the promised land. Plenty did. Just bring your own food and be comforted by the fact that you wouldn't have been so concerned about hygiene in 1912. And if the worst came to the worst there was no extra charge for burial at sea!
>>And I used to think that sea travel was romantic.<<
The romance of sea travel was greatly over-rated I'm afraid. When regular commercial passenger service really took off in the 19th Century, it was still pretty damned risky, and the conditions in even the First Class could be appalling. Class distinctions didn't grant any immunity to sea sickness and even the best cabins were barely much larger then a prison cell. In fact, it could be argued that a man on the beach awaiting a date with the hangman's noose had more personal space, and at least he didn't have to worry about being drowned without warning in the middle of the night.
One of the driving factors in the ever increasing size of ocean liners for any service...aside from even increasing numbers of travelers...was the demand for ever greater comfort. Greater elbow room was no small part of that. The shipping lines would have been quite happy to transport passengers in crates if they could have got away with it, but the economics of the game were such that the passengers in even the lowest classes expected and demanded better. The lines which could provide it sold the most berths and made the most money.
Not surprisingly, those that couldn't didn't do as well.
It is very likely that most of the passengers, including first class had never used a water flush toilet before.
The WC or Water Closet is probably the most neglected device in the world of invention. For thousands of years man has concentrated on everything else without any regard for his basic need.
It is only in the last 50 years, that the flush toilet was brought indoors. All properties pre 1930 had outside toilets and only a small percentage were water flush. In 1912 the flush toilet was very rare item.
It is only in the last 50 years, that the flush toilet was brought indoors.
Oh, it's much longer than that, Gordon, at least in places I'm familiar with. I remember 1959 quite well and by then outdoor toilets were few and far between. In fact, the only outhouse I remember was at a farm my grandmother owned in a then-rural location in New Jersey, and even there there was full indoor plumbing by the late 1950's...flush toilet included.