Smoking Room paneling from OIympic where is it

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Ive seen photos of the large sections of Olympic's first class Smoking Room paneling, with stained glass windows, that were offered up for auction before Olympic was scrapped. Does anyone know the current whereabouts of the Olympic smoking room paneling,with the impressive sailing ship stained glass, etc? That magnificent piece must have had a buyer..

On the same subject- We know the color of the floor tiles in Olympic's Smoking Room was different than Titanic- is it possible they had diffent stained glass images, or were those stained glass windows likely of the same scenes?


Tarn Stephanos

I don't have my Titanic books with me, but I think that Ballard may have thrown in a modern photo of Olympic smoking room panelling in "The Discovery of the Titanic." (maybe in the "Then and Now" section?) I don't think that it was the sailing ship panel, but if there is a photo in that book then the caption probably explains where that particular piece is located now--that would at least be something to go on.

I may be wrong, though, so please don't hurt me if you don't find anything! ;)

I'm probably wrong too BUT - weren't fittings like the panelling, glass and other items sold off and scattered around various pubs and hotels within England (Northumberland rings a bell)? Or am I thinking of pieces recovered from the Lusitania now adorning establishments in the Cork area of Ireland?



Unfortunately the Smoking Room panelling kept some people warm in either the 50's or 60's. I can't remember where I saw this, it was either somewhere here on ET or on another message board. The smoke room panelling was never sold off and lay about until the 50's or 60 until it was finally used for firewood ... or so I read. I can't remember who said this but if they're still around I'm sure they'll elaborate on that.

As for the scenes on the stained glass windows, they were likely not identical as on the Olympic. They may have followed the same theme, but the actual images were unlikely the same as on the Olympic.


Daniel wrote: "The smoke room panelling was never sold off and lay about until the 50's or 60 until it was finally used for firewood ... or so I read. I can't remember who said this but if they're still around I'm sure they'll elaborate on that."

Well, it was I. And to clarify the story a bit.... Back in the 1980s, I was told by a former employee of Thomas Ward (the shipbreaker) that the paneling from the Smoking Room did not sell and lay in storage for many years. He said that it was finally disposed of in the 1950s for use as firewood for the locals. (Keep in mind the Smoking Room ceiling is at a paint factory in Northern England.)

Now whether the story is actually true or not, I don't know. I only repeated what I had been told by someone who was there (which in hindsight may have been an error on my part). I can't vouch for the veracity of the story because no evidence has presented itself which either confirms or denies it.

Daniel, I'm also curious about your thinking that the stained-glass panels in the Smoking Room on Olympic were different from the ones on Titanic. Do you have any evidence for this, or is it just speculation? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any artwork that we know for a fact that was different, one ship from the other. Call me skeptical, but until I see some hard evidence that the panels were indeed different, I'll have to believe they were the same.

I know that some of the leaded edges of the panels were found in Titanic's debris field (and they are identical to what was on Olympic), but I don't recall if any pattern of stained glass has been seen or found. To satisfy my own curiosity, I'll check with Ken Marschall when he comes back from his trans-Atlantic crossing to see if he can shed any light on it from his detailed study of the Woods Hole or Cameron debris field photos.

Anyone else care to weigh in?

Eric Sauder
Thanks for your detailed poste Eric. My goodness, if the Olympic Smoking Room paneling was indeed turned into kindling, thats akin to the tragedy of Boxhall's collection being thrown away. One would think though the stained glass would not be burned, and may have been recycled in some way.
Why such a magnifcent stretch of woodwork did not sell is very perplexing...

What a sad waste... 8 (


Tarn Stephanos

There are several reasons I would suggest why the Olympic's Smokeroom panels never sold.

1) The Depression. Money was tight and the woodwork was not an obvious need to anybody who saw it.

2) Victorian decor was hopelessly passe. Everybody hates their mother's taste in furniture and most adults in the 1930s grew up in musty, creaking, dark Victorian houses. Today we see "old stuff" as collectable because it's drummed into our heads by Madison Avenue's "collectable" marketing angle ("Be the first on your block to collect all 12 today") but back in the 30's it was just seen as tired old woodwork. The UK is full of the stuff.

3) Expense and difficulty of reuse. Woodwork salvaged from ships is almost impossible to reassemble on land without tremendous expense and carpenters of the highest skill. I speak from experience here since I worked for many years on the Queen Mary as the ship's acting curator. We had an enormous amount of the ship's original paneling and I tried to devise ways to reassemble it for exhibits but the difficulty was that unless the exhibit followed the original floor plan that the woodwork was taken from, the overall effect was that the display was put together from "odds and ends" and never quite looked finished. I will not even mention that owing to sheer and camber, almost nothing is cut at right angles. This in itself is a nightmare.

My observations on reconstruction held true with the two salvaged Olympic rooms I saw. The Lounge in the White Swan looks quite good because it is an almost identical reconstruction of the Lounge, with the various pieces going back into their original place. The Restaurant, on the other hand, was reassembled into an apartment of very different proportions than the original room. While the workmanship was very good, the paneling had some very "odd moments" where the carpenters had run out of pieces and had to make due with stock on hand.

4) Decay. I doubt the wood was kept in a climate controlled storage shed. As the paneling aged, it probably cracked and warped to a point where it was no longer useable. Once the inlay popped out, that was the end of it and so off to the fiery furnace.

Bill Sauder

Bill makes a good point about the Smoke Room's panelling over time. It would not have remained looking polished and perfect. Twenty years later it was very likely in an ugly state that was more useful for keeping people warm.

Eric, as you said, I only "think" the leaded glass windows were different, I'm not saying they definitely were. The painting and the color of the tiles in the Smoking Room was different to that of Olympic. The carved pedestals in the staircases on Olympic and Titanic were not identical in the same places, other carvings etc. (such as Lounge) were also not "identical". Although it followed a similar style, it wasn't a duplicate of what was on the Olympic.

Due to these differences, that's why I think that the depictions on the leaded glass windows in the Smoke Room were not identical. Titanic was obviously not a duplicate of Olympic, and perhaps although the same themes were followed they were not necessarily duplicated. I agree that other leaded glass windows were identical on both ships, and this may have been the case for the Smoke Room, however at the moment, we just don't know.

There was another photo of another White Star ship, that in it's Smoking Room had similar panelling and similar leaded glass windows. I can't remember where are saw it, but if you have these photos, compare them to Olympic and see whether the scene depictions are basically identical. In this case, it would be even more likely that Titanic's leaded glass windows in the Smoking Room were the same as on Olympic.

Does anyone know if the auction book, listing all the Olympic fittings that were for sale at the time of her scrapping, prices, etc, is back in print, or available on the web? Im curious to see what the asking price for the Smoking Room paneling was back in the 30s.

Bill made a very good point that at the time of her scrapping, her decor was passe', and demand for Victorian decor simply wasnt that great.

Maby this is why there was no interest to preserve the Aquitania- her internal decor was hopeless out of date by 1950....

I hope at the very least some of the stained glass from the Olympic's Smoking Room survived- or at the very least the fireplace.

Is Walter Lord the owner of the painting that hung above Olympic's Smoking Room fireplace?


Tarn Stephanos
Seeing as the subject of paintings has come up, is there a copy of "Approach To The New World" on-line anywhere, which hung above Titanic's fireplace and where Thomas Andrews was last seen?



Nathan Good

Former Member
Hi all,

I believe the picture above the Titanic's smoking rooms fireplace was of Plymouth Harbour and Olympics was the "Approach to the New World". I heard or read somewhere that Walter Lord's copy of "Approach to the New World" was the one used on the set of 'A Night to Remember'. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I'm going from memory.

All the best

Nathan is quite right. The painting in the Smoking Room set of the movie A Night to Remember is now in Walter Lord's collection. The original (now in the Southampton Maritime Museum) has a primarily orangy tone, but the copy done for the movie is mostly blues/greens. The whereabouts of the original was not known when A Night to Remember was made; so the copy was someone's best guess using Olykmpic Smoking Room photos as a guide.

There is no "asking price" in the 1935 Olympic catalogue for any of the items because it was an auction, not a fixed-price sale.

Eric Sauder
Regarding the paintings, Titanic did have the "Plymouth Harbour" painting, but how did "Approach to the New World" come about? According to the man who painted both those pictures, as well as according to the Olympic auction book, Olympic's painting was simply named "New York Harbour".

As for the catalogue, I have a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, so I have a page missing and one page badly photocopied, but there are some prices scribbled throughout the book.

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