Scullery Aboard TitanicOlympic

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May 1, 2004
Pacifique du Nord
Having just begun a night dishwashing job to pay for my next trip to Europe, I wonder what the sculleries were like on the Olympic class ships.

I know the Lusitania had electric/automatic everything. I presume the technology for automatic dishwashing was available for the Olympic class ships but I want to know more.

Anybody got any info.?
Jun 11, 2000
What an interesting question, and obviously born out of grim experience there, Jonathan. I discover the first dishwasher was invented by a woman ....well, it would have to be, wouldn't it?

But it doesn't look like the electric automatic dishwasher was invented until 1940, which begs the question, why didn't I get one until 1995?

The invention timeline on the above site, if accurate, does show that things generally tend to have been around much longer than one thinks. An electric washing machine was evidently around from 1901, but I've seen a picture of the White Star Laundry in Southampton, and it doesn't look very mechanised. So what was automated and electric on the Lusy, Jonathan?

In any event, I reckon the dishes were done by hand on the Titanic. And a thankless task I bet it was too.

Bob Godfrey

Nov 22, 2002
I imagine there must have been some kind of dishwashing machinery in the main sculleries, as the scale of the job was surely beyond the scope of hand labour - just one pair of hands in the 3rd Class kitchen area, for instance, to deal with thousands of items daily.

Any machinery used, however, was probably not motorised - the early machines were devised as a means of reducing the level of breakages rather than as labour-saving devices! Hand-cranked machines like the one Monica has mentioned were well-established in commercial catering by 1912, but the electric-powered machines had not been perfected. The list of the ship's electrically powered kitchen machinery published at the time includes no dishwashers - only a knife-cleaning machine.

There were about 20 people working on Titanic as scullions (dishwashers and general dogsbodies) and another 10 who specialised in keeping the 1st and 2nd Class 'plate' (silverware) spotless. The task of the 'platemen' might have been eased a bit by the knife-cleaning machine, but there wasn't much substitute for elbow grease in their line of work.
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