Second Class on the Boat Deck

Ben Lemmon

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I saw a picture of Lawrence Beesley and was wondering something. Were Second Class people allowed in the gymnasium? In the aforementioned picture, Beesley is riding the stationary bike . . . I think. How would he have gotten in there if he wasn't a First Class passenger?
 
Sep 1, 2004
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I just know that second class passengers were allowed to visit first class spaces before the voyage and Lawrence Beesley took some pictures, as those from the gymnasium, Boat deck, or first class lounge.

Regards
Vitezslav
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>How would he have gotten in there if he wasn't a First Class passenger?<<

Per what Vitezslav said, the 2cnd class passengers were permitted to look over the 1st class accomadation before the voyage began. Pretty much good business sense on the part of White Star since today's second class passenger might be the one who buys a 1st Class ticket the next time if they like what they see.

Of course, it's lousy publicity when you manage to sink the bloody ship her first time out...
 

Dave Gittins

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Beesley describes how he wandered round the ship with two friends who had come to see him off.

He tried the stationary bike and stayed on it at the request of the gym instructor while press photographers took shots of the gym.
 

Ben Lemmon

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So were 2nd Class people well enough off to have a car of their own, like a Model T Ford? Or did the 1st class people hold exclusive rights to the owning of an automobile? I know they had them back then, but who had them?
 

Dave Gittins

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Second class would not have owned cars, which were very expensive, even the Model T, which was not yet built on an assembly line.

Even the rich didn't always have cars, sometimes because they had nowhere to keep them. In London, they often lived in terrace houses that opened onto the street. They got around on foot, or in cabs.

While researching Titanic, I came on an advertisement for a car leasing system for rich people. You could lease a car and driver and ring up for it when it was needed. The deal included, fuel, maintenance and all other expenses. It cost more than 300 pounds per year.

I also found an advertisement particularly aimed at rich women. They were invited to hire an electric car when shopping in London. It was quiet, clean and had adequate range for city work.
 

Bob Godfrey

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In 1912 there were around 200,000 cars on the roads in Britain, and most of these were cheap 2-cylinder voiturettes, cyclecars and 'gas buggies' aimed at the Middle Classes and priced around £75-£150. Some could be ordered from department store mail order catalogues. Vehicles in that price range were generally based on cycle engineering and appealed mainly to the young and sporty customer 'of limited means'. Relatively cheap 4-cylinder light cars for practical family transport didn't really take off until the decade following on from the Titanic. But for the Middle Class motorist who could afford to buy a car, the running costs were low in 1912. Fuel was untaxed. For the car itself there was an annual tax of upwards of a couple of pounds a year (depending on engine size) but insurance was entirely optional. Anybody (including the blind!) could obtain a driving license. Driving schools existed, and typically charged around £25 for a full course of instruction, but most new drivers taught themselves with the aid of their car's instruction book, which offered useful advice like how to get home without front wheels: Borrow a coster's cart, fasten it to the front axle, use reins to steer.
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Brian Ahern

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Second class passenger Benjamin Hart owned a car, according to his daughter Eva's memoir. It's interesting what Bob says about the sort of cars that were on the road then. There were, of course, dozens of car manufacturers in Britain producing big tourers and roadsters, but these would have been beyond the reach of all but the very affluent. I think the US, the UK, and France probably had the most car manufacturers, but Germany, Italy and (perhaps surprisingly) Belgium had quite a few, and there was a healthy smattering of companies throughout the rest of Western Europe.

Cars are another lifelong passion of mine, and lately I've been researching cars from the 1900-1912 era. I've been surprised to discover that, from the earliest, women were taking up driving in greater numbers than I thought. It is relatively easy to find photos of women behind the wheels of gasoline-powered cars, but as Dave indicated, it is largely electrics that were marketed to them. These were supposed to be cleaner, quieter, and easier to manage. They were also a lot slower and less powerful. If I'm not mistaken, most couldn't go more than 30 miles without being recharged and would slow to a snail's pace if they had to go up hills. Adverts might as well have said 'Go ahead and give the little lady a car - you don't need to worry about her getting too far.'

Here is a 1910 advert showing ladies in a Waverley Electric:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/1910_Waverley_Coupe.GIF

Here is a 1912 ad for the Detroit Electric, which is the model that Dorothy Gibson drove, according to the bio written by Randy Bryan Bigham:
http://www.econogics.com/ev/detroad1.jpg

A few years ago, I started a thread called "Women Drivers", about which lady passengers were climbing behind the wheel:
https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5811/49414.html?1080229952
 

Ben Lemmon

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So I have a choice. But did they still use carriages, like a cabriolet, back then? If they did use a carriage, what kind would it be? I've ridden in a wagon-type, open carriage, with plush seats and wooden doors and such. Would that be what the middle-class folk would have used? By the way, thanks for all the information. You guys are great.
 

Bob Godfrey

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In England there were very well-developed systems of public transport which everybody used - the railways, trams (streetcars), commuter and underground trains, buses. For the better-off there were motor (and still some horse-drawn) cabs for short journeys in town. Many working class men used a bicycle for getting to work, and the middle class favoured them also but more for leisure. Keeping horses was more expensive than keeping servants, so generally only the Upper Class and some Upper Middle Class families had their own carriages. My great grandfather had a light two-wheeled carriage (like an Irish 'jaunting car') for driving the family around at weekends, but only because he had a horse which earned its living during the working week pulling his vegetable cart. If you drove yourself, a small car was much cheaper to run than any horse-drawn transport.
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Dave Gittins

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As an old bikerider, I dispute that working men of Titanic's time used bikes to get to work. Bikes of the time cost a great deal and were essentially toys for the rich. Bikes for workers didn't really take off until the 1920s.

There's a famous photo of men leaving H & W after work. There's not a bike in sight.

A curious exception to the rule could be see in outback Australia, where sheep shearers often rode bikes from job to job. The best of these workers could make five pounds per week, which was far more than ordinary British workers could make.
 

Bob Godfrey

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I'll meet you halfway on that, Dave, and agree that the 1920s/30s was the period in which bike ownership became almost universal in Britain. But in 1912 they certainly weren't marketed as toys for the rich, and were aimed rather at the lower middle and artisan classes. By then there were millions in use, and several hundred thousand were sold every year. Postmen and policemen used them, and your sheep shearer could have bought his new for a week's wages. Makers with an eye to increased sales were accepting payment by 'easy installments', and second-hand bikes changed hands for just two or three pounds.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Whilst looking through the 1912 Sears Roebuck mail order catalogue for something entirely different, I noticed that they would deliver a brand new bike to your door for just $12 (less than £2 10s). But if you couldn't afford even that and you really wanted a bike ...

124242.jpg
 
May 3, 2005
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>>Second class would not have owned cars, which were very expensive, even the Model T, which was not yet built on an assembly line.<<

Model T Ford was produced from 1908 to 1927. Price in 1908 was $850 US, and eventually was reduced to about $450 US, so possibly American Second Class passengers might have owned cars in 1912.

>>Per what Vitezslav said, the 2cnd class passengers were permitted to look over the 1st class accomadation before the voyage began. Pretty much good business sense on the part of White Star since today's second class passenger might be the one who buys a 1st Class ticket the next time if they like what they see.<<

Also considering the number of vacant cabins, would it have been possible for a 2nd Class Ticket holder to have upgraded to 1st Class after having boarded Titanic ?
 

Ben Lemmon

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Regarding the picture above, I just have one thing to say: I'm glad they updated the material bikes are made of.
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Did 2nd class passengers have the financial means to start a new life in America? More importantly, did any 2nd class passengers use their passage to America to start a new life (i.e. starting businesses, schools, etc.) or did they all go across simply for vacation?
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Robert, you asked
>>Also considering the number of vacant cabins, would it have been possible for a 2nd Class Ticket holder to have upgraded to 1st Class after having boarded Titanic ?<<

Yes, Alfred Nourney did.
 

Ben Lemmon

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I had a question to the contrary of Robert's. Did anyone downgrade to 3rd class because they found they didn't have the necessary funds to stay in 2nd class. I can tell you right now, that would have probably been my brother if he was alive back then.
 

Bob Godfrey

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The ticket price was all-inclusive, Ben. It wasn't necessary to spend any more money on board, so why would anyone need extra funds to 'stay' in 2nd Class?
 
Mar 20, 2007
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'Did 2nd class passengers have the financial means to start a new life in America? More importantly, did any 2nd class passengers use their passage to America to start a new life (i.e. starting businesses, schools, etc.) or did they all go across simply for vacation?'

Yes, many of the second-class passengers were travelling to the States to set up new lives with their families. I can think of the Harts and the Collyers, for starters, and probably many more too. Several other individuals were travelling for business reasons. Holiday-makers, in the most casual or frivolous sense, would have been in the minority - as transatlantic travel was an expensive affair, you'd have to look in first-class to find them. Most second-class passengers would have been more than content with a week or two at the seaside in their country of origin.

'As an old bikerider, I dispute that working men of Titanic's time used bikes to get to work. Bikes of the time cost a great deal and were essentially toys for the rich. Bikes for workers didn't really take off until the 1920s.'

In 'Larkrise to Candleford', her memoir of country life in Oxfordshire in the closing years of the nineteenth century, Flora Thompson describes the bicycling craze which took off, even in her relatively isolated rural community, in the mid-1890s. Although she is not writing about the poorest of the poor, she does convey the impression that the working classes enjoyed taking to the road on two wheels - even if they had only hired them for a penny an hour. As I recall, she also describes how the bicycle helped to emancipate women from some (by no means all) of the societal constraints they'd formerly laboured under.

The years immediately prior to the Great War saw the number of motorised vehicles on the roads increase dramatically; in a very short space of time, no more than eight years or so, the carriages and coaches which had been used for generations were rendered obsolete - at least for the well-to-do. Yet it was also noted that during the glorious summers of 1913 and 1914, when the total victory of the motor seemed assured, many Society ladies were once again riding out in the London parks in their old-fashioned barouches and victorias, which were considered far better vehicles in which to display elegant toilettes.