Second Class aft Staircase

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Arun Vajpey

The photo at the bottom of this post (presumably taken on the Olympic) must be a familiar sight to most Titanic enthusiasts because it appears in several books as a possible escape route to the Boat Deck during the sinking. What I want to know about is the access to the just visible corridor BEYOND the open door in the centre of the frame. This photo has been a subject of discussion among group gatherings at various THS conventions; some claim that almost any steerage passenger who knew his or her way about the ship had unrestricted access to that corridor, even if it was a convoluted route to get there. The door was left open throughout the sinking.

If that was true, then theoretically at least almost any passenger could have reached the boat deck early on. Is there any basis to this?

That photo appears to be taken on C-Deck looking towards the port side of the ship. See Titanic Deckplans : C Deck

Go through that door and head aft and you would find a door leading outside. A rather convoluted way to go since the third class could easily get topside and out to the after well deck without intruding on the second class area. From there, all any of them really would have had to do would be to climb the ladder leading up from the well deck and jump/climb over the gate to get up into the superstructure.

Which doesn't mean that somebody didn't take the scenic route. Only that it wasn't really necessery.
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Hello Arun,

As I replied to Loup Garou on
Looking at the photograph, it is of the forward or main 2nd Class stairway on B-deck, as you can see the enclosed area which housed the elevator and also what appears to be the Elevator sign as well as one in the top left corner which reads Smoking Room. - See TT&T page 120.
Note: The after 2nd Class stairway faced the other way.

I think what is featured [and what you are referring to as an open doorway] is the entrance lobby which shows on deck plans and in The Shipbuilder Fig 112, page 98. The area beyond is 2nd Class promenade space.

The doorways on E-deck [one for each 2nd Class stairway] with Scotland Road on the other side should have been closed and it would not have been a "convoluted route to get there" as 3rd Class used Scotland Road to go fore and aft on the ship and to get to their Dining Saloons.

For detailed deck plans look here:

Michael, I am having trouble with your suggested route as it would seem to involve 3rd Class coming up from E-deck and then leaving the staircase on C-deck to go aft [?]. Surely on C-deck 3rd Class would come forward from the after Well-deck and then used that staircase to take them up to the Boat-deck. The same would apply on B-deck except then they would have used the stairway from the after Well-deck to access that 2nd Class stairway to take them up to the Boat-deck.


Arun Vajpey

Lester, thanks for your reply and yes, I noted the signs in the larger frame of the same photo in various books. It is indeed on the B-deck in second class (signs) but both Don Lynch & Paul Quinn mentioned that it was an AFT staircase. Quinn even calls it "a key artery to the boat deck that was bypassed for some unknown reason by Third Class passengers" in his book 'Titanic At 2am'. Even before that book was published, the photograph was a subject of discussion as I said.

From your answer, I gather that you agree that the steerage passengers could have used that route to the boat deck, right?
Hello Arun,

It was indeed "a key artery to the boat deck".

The after 2nd Class staircase only went up to C-deck. A key question is did 3rd Class know the door existed on E-deck and even if they noticed them as they passed several times each day did they know what they opened onto? That stairs just beyond would take them to the lifeboats. Were the doors opened? - Most 3rd Class passengers were probably moving or were being sent aft to their main staircase and from their up to the after Well-deck [and perhaps their public rooms?]. From there provided the routes were open [and with perhaps a few statically placed stewards to point the way] it should have been easy to get to that "key artery" from within 2nd Class on either C or B-deck.

Remember the single women, family groups and married couples were mostly in rooms aft of the E-deck doorways. Only Section B [forward on E-deck and which may have contained married couples?] was forward. The 3 rooms in Section M were just aft of the door to the main 2nd Class stairway and most of the next Section "M" was aft of the other doorway. 3rd Class passengers in rooms G-1 to G-41 would have come up to Scotland Road via a staircase that would have brought them to a point opposite the doorway of the after staircase.
Hi Lester.

>>The after 2nd Class staircase only went up to C-deck.<<

I believe you meant B-deck.

What is interesting about the main 2nd class staircase is that it went all the way to the boat deck but had no exit onto A-deck which was first class space. Most of the aft starboard-side boats were loaded mostly with 2nd and 3rd class passengers from the A-deck promenade which was open on the side aft. They could not have used the 2nd class staircase to get there.
Hi Sam,

Yes thank you. I meant B-deck.

Your point about the after starboard boats and 2nd/3rd Class passengers is one that has long puzzled me. I guess that most climbed the ladders at the after end of B-deck to take them to A-deck, or less likely went via the Cafe Parsian [if the after door was open/unlocked?] and the after 1st Class staircase. Any who had already reached the Boat-deck could have descended using the stairs near the Officer's Mess.

Hope you are keeping well,
>>Surely on C-deck 3rd Class would come forward from the after Well-deck and then used that staircase to take them up to the Boat-deck.<<

Which is what I would do. As I suggested, I suppose one could take the scenic route, but when your way is so much say nothing of unbarred...why bother?
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