Smoking Room On Fire


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Mike Shetina

Guest
In Charles (I hope I spell this right) Pellagrano's follow up to "HER NAME TITANIC","GHOSTS OF THE TITANIC", he says that if the ship went down as thought, the fireplace in the smoking room would set it on fire! This is on the illustrations on pages 176-195. They show on pages 190-191. First of all, there must have been some protection from hot coals igniting the floor, since the Titanic was built to withstand rough seas. I am puzzled! Help me!
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 25, 2001
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Do we know for sure that fireplace was lit? Besides, I thought that the fireplaces were electric specifically for that reason.


David
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello Mike and David,

The smoking room is basically "my" room on the Titanic, so I'm going to try to give you guys a hand here.

Pellegrino says that first class steward Edward Brown claimed that the smoking room's fireplace was lit, and also says that it was Brown who had the final conversation with Mr. Andrews ("Aren't you even going to make a try for it?"). However, Pellegrino has the wrong steward! It was actually steward James Johnson who had that final conversation with Andrews in the smoking room.

I think what Pellegrino did here, and he does this quite frequently throughout the book, was throw in details that simply never existed. Which would be more interesting to readers: Andrews and the smoking room being engulfed in flames, or the room slipping into the sea?

"Besides, I thought that the fireplaces were electric specifically for that reason."

The fireplaces in the parlor suites were electric, but in the smoking room the fire was very real. Pellegrino mentions the hot coals igniting the carpet of the room. May I ask, what carpet? The smoking room floor was covered in linoleum tiles. The only known carpet in that room was a small throw rug situated in front of the fireplace. Other than that, there was no carpet for the coals to ignite. Unless there was a carpet over the tiles, but I've never heard of this. All in all, I think it's just Pellegrino trying to make his story more interesting.


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 

Dave Hudson

Member
Apr 25, 2001
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Brandon,

You have an excellent point. Pellegrino seems to be a better storyteller than historian. From what I understand, there is no proof that Andrews was in the Smoking Room at all. There are accounts of him throwing deckchairs off the Boat Deck, running through cabin corridors, etc., etc. The Smoking Room story is just the one that stuck. There was a thread a while ago that dealt with this but I'm not sure which.

That is interesting to know that the Smoking Room fire place was real, do you have a source for that? I agree with Mike though, there must have been some sort of protection. At sea, there is no solid ground.

David
 
M

Mike Shetina

Guest
To David and Brandon,
I think that he is the author is spreading very false rumors regarding the Titanic. His books are full of inaccuracies and mistakes. He'd go far in Hollywood!
Best Wishes,
Mike Shetina
 

Dave Hudson

Member
Apr 25, 2001
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Mike,

Despite his imaginative details, Pellegrino is till to be respected. He's a good Titanic researcher, he just likes to fill in the unknowns with the fantastic. He is a great storyteller and his books have inspired many to research the Titanic in more depth. He stirs interest, and although he isn't the most accurate writer in the world, he's decently factual. At least he isn't claiming that the Titanic was scrapped in 1937!

David
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello Mike,

I believe the author you have in mind is Robert Gardiner, a man who (I think I speak for everyone on this board) needs a good kick in the teeth! His books have Olympic and Titanic being switched, and the name "Olympic" visible on the bow of the wreckage! Complete and utter bull!

I'm not out to put Dr. Pellegrino down at all; I think he is an amazing man who has accomplished and saw many things, some of which I have longed to do in my life. But he definitely does have a storyteller side to him. I own both of his books, and they are two of my favorites.

As for the fireplace, I have saw and heard it mentioned in several places that it was real, and I think one of those was Ballard's '87 book. I'll have to get back to you on that. I'm sure there was likely some type of screen in front of the fire, as the ship would often face rough weather.


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Pardon me, but I am not willing to accept anyone as a "historian" who creates stories out of whole cloth and then wraps them in a semblance of fact. This is particularly true of Titanic because of the many myths and legends that surrounded the ship in 1912.

Any author who cannot back up his assertions with easily-checked references is writing fiction and his books must be considered as such. Unfortunately, some writers have used the guise of historical fact to conceal their true motives. Shame once on them for doing it, but shame twice on any serious Titanic researcher for accepting this sort of writer as any sort of "historian."

Perhaps I'm a bit touchy on this subject, but I have been the butt of personal and professional slanders as a result of writing my book, "Last Log." True, I presented some radically different views on many events during the tragedy, but I also presented documentation for every claim. You can trace my research. When you--the book buyer--spend good mony on a work that purports to discuss the history of Titanic, you deserve no less than that sort of thoroughness.

Readers should always insist on documenttion. They should force authors to cite quotations in testimony, specific newspaper articles, or the exact page(s) in books. Any serious historical writer will be glad to provide "chapter and verse" with regard to sources. That's the ordinary practice of historians.

Of course, we are all free to accept or reject what any author puts forth. The point is that nothing should be accepted as "fact" without proof. That's why serious works about Titanic document even mundane items such as the temperature of the water or the desserts at the last meal.

Where is the documentation for claims of switched ships, blazing smoking rooms, attempts at barratry, engines pounding in reverse, etc? There is none because these are flights of fantasy. Please put them on the correct shelf in the library--fiction.

--David G. Brown
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 26, 2000
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I have to go with David Brown here. There are SO many stories out there and, if we are to know which is actually based on fact, the other 'stories, should either be omitted entirely or else labeled as speculation if included.

Now, the following is speculation: If the fireplace WAS lit, wouldn't the fact that the ship was tipping at the bow, and the fireplace being situated where it was (as I understand it), cause the coals to fall BACK into the well of the fireplace rather than throwing them out? Or did I miss something else in the discussion?

Best Holiday wishes all 'round,
Cook
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello Pat,

I was under the same assumption about the coals at first, but if the fireplace was where I think it was, then they would indeed fall forward. I have it located at the aft. end of the room directly beside that spiral door leading into the verandah. Unless I am BADLY mistaken, that's where it was located.


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
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Brandon and Pat,

That's correct -- the fireplace was situated on the far/aft wall of the smoking room, in between the two Verandah cafe doors (which led to seperate rooms, of course). The elaborate funnel casing would have been directly opposite from this.

Regards,
Ben
 

Dave Hudson

Member
Apr 25, 2001
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David B. and Pat,

I was not insinuating that Pellegrino's books are a source of provable facts. My point was that his books are written well and they make the reader want to learn more. It is up to the reader to research. It is the writer's job to make them WANT to research. In this, Pellegrino has succeeded. I suppose that the word "historian" is debatable. I interpreted historian as a person who studies history seriously. Very well then, Pellegrino is not a historian. The meaning of my post was that he promotes growth in the Titanic community and is thus an asset. He is relatively accurate and his inaccuracies are only meant to interest the reader. Besides, his inaccuracies aren't THAT bad. Some are laughable, but for the most part, forgivable. A book of solid, provable and documented facts is great for a current Titanic researcher but boring and dull to the average person. Pellegrino's books inspire average people to find out more for themselves. ANTR is similar in this. While I'm not insulting Mr. Lord, his book had a fair share of misinformation and no bibliography. Despite this, it sparked the interest of MANY (K. Marschall, Ballard, the bulk of ET members...)

Gardiner is a different story. He tries to make money by manipulating others' research. He perpetuates myths and has invented a number of his own that we now must deal with. Thus, he is not an asset.

David
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Fiction is an excellent means of firing the imagination. No one can quarrel with the right of authors to take actual events as the setting for their flights of fancy. What I object to is the positioning of what are essentially works of fiction as factual accounts with historical validity.

There seems to be a small industry engaged in promoting this sort of thing. In the not-too-distant past I received publicity from an internationally-known museum regarding an exhibition of Titanic artifacts. That news release contained a few factual errors. I contact the museum privately and gave citations for the evidence needed to correct those errors. This was done privately to avoid embarassing the institution which is renown for accuracy.

In return, I got an e-mail that said..in so many words..that the museum was not concerned with the truth as far as the Titanic exhibit was concerned. It was a money-making exercise.

--David G. Brown
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
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Have to agree with David and Cook here - count me as one of those who like their histories and their historiographical fiction kept distinct. The lines between the two are already far too blurred without elements such as fabricated material stated baldly as fact muddying the waters yet further. By all means, if he wishes to provide a creative interpretation of the Titanic disaster which in turn generates interest in the disaster then more power to him. But it should not masquerade under the guise of non-fiction.

No wonder 'popular history' is held in such contempt by academics!

~ Inger
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 26, 2000
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Oops!

After viewing the movie again and rechecking my deck plans (one of these days I have GOT to get my bow straight from my stern - NO WISECRACKS, BEHE OR WHITFIELD!) I realized that the the fireplace, indeed, would've tipped forward rather than backward. Sorry for not checking before posting. However, I DID say it was speculation.

Thanks, guys, for setting me straight.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Assuming for the moment that there was a blazing fire in the grate...the next question is, "what down angle of the bow would roll fire out of the grate?" Certainly, H&W had taken into account the normal pitching of a vessel in a head sea. So, there must have been protection for this expected situation. H&W would have been seriously remiss if they had not designed the fireplace to accept at least a 20 degree down angle, or more.

Titanic filled and sank initially with great majesty. There was only one "lurch" of major importance and that was when the bridge went under. So, there was little or no movement of the coals that might have propelled them out of the fireplace. This means they would have remained in position as the bow sagged downward until the downward tip exceeded the angle of repose of the coals--which could have exceeded 20 degrees.

It does not appear that Titanic's bow-down attitude while the ship was intact exceeded 15 or 20 degrees. The great upending of the stern was apparently the result of the breakup and not of the gradual flooding.

Without doubt, the coals would have poured out of the fireplace at the very end. But, that was after Titanic had ceased to be a ship and the smoking room had ceased to be a room.

But, back to square one...Is there any proof that there was a real fire in a real fireplace in the smoking room? The premise that a fire was laid on the grate has to be proven before any other discussion has value. Who laid the fire? What was the fuel? When was the fire last stoked?

-- David G. Brown
 
J

Joanne Seiferlein

Guest
Hello, everyone,
I have never read anyplace else that the fireplace was actually in use that night. That's one of my big beefs about Pellegrino: he tends to mix fact with his own projections. I actually read him more for entertainment than for serious information-gathering. But he is entertaining. I will give him that.
Actually the far-fetched things in his two TITANIC books are pretty tame. I read his book on Atlantis really being the island of Santorini, and he claims that the sound of the explosion went around the earth sixteen times (!). How's THAT for far-fetched?!
 

Mike Bull

Member
Dec 23, 2000
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I just finally read this Pellegrino book, (had it for Crimbo) and found some of it entertaining, some of it informative, and some of it ridiculous-what a mix!
 

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