Some questions


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Paul Lee

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Hi all,
Is there any evidence that the lights in the public areas on board were turned off on the night of the 14th April as an encouragement for the passengers to go to bed? And if so, which ones, and at what time? I suppose that the lights would have been turned back on when the passengers were being roused?

Also, does anyone know where I can get a starchart showing the night sky on 14th April?

Best wishes
Paul
 
Dec 31, 2003
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"showing the night sky on 14th April" Well, Hello Paul - The night sky of 14/15 April 1912, and as it was visable so sharply above Titanic - is that shown in the illustration by my fellow 'Hampsteadite', Fortunino Matania. You now only need to turn to the interesting article 'Anatomy of a Boat Deck Portrait', written recently by Senan Molony - and right here on ET!
 

Dave Gittins

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For some comments on the sky, see my site at Titanic and Astronomy

David Billnitzer has correctly pointed out that the sky in the Matania drawing is all wrong. I've confirmed it using a computer program.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Paul, check out this thread for info on the 'lights out' policy:

 

Lee Gilliland

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There is also an interactive sky dome at Sky & Telescope that can send you back to the Night of April 14-15, 1912 (you will need to click on the word "Skychart" in the upper left). They haven't put in the Lyrid Meteor Showers, which more than likely was the one that caused the falling stars, but they are working on it.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi everyone,
Thanks so much for your help.... would it be fair to say that, at the time of the collision, the Titanic's public rooms would have been lit?
I know that the 1st, and probably 2nd class dining saloons would have their lights on as the stewards prepared the tables for the next morning, and I recall that the 1st class smoking room was still occupied....are there any others that anyone can recall?

Best wishes to you all!
Paul
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Hello, again, Paul - Mrs Astor and at least one other lady - perhaps others with their maids - completed dressing for the lifeboats in the gymnasium - which must have been lighted. I am hugely impressed by the helpful response to your 'sky-at-night' query. Almost obsessively pains-taking in researching the smallest detail of every illustration (another double-spread - of the Titanic Inquiry - is 'virtual reality'!), Matania nonetheless did not have the benefit of modern computers - or the ET message board.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Paul, it's likely that only the 1st Class Smoking room was still fully lit at the time of the collision. All of the saloon stewards who gave evidence at the two Inquiries testified that they were in bed by then - none mentioned being on duty later than 10.30pm. The only people still working in the First Class Saloon (dining room) were the night watchmen, who came on duty at 11pm. In 2nd Class, Chief Steward Hardy was responsible for ensuring that the public rooms were closed up and the lights off at 11pm, and he too was in bed at the time of the collision. The public facilities in 3rd Class had of course been closed and unlit since 10pm.
 

Pat Cook

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Well, apparently there were some stewards still on duty. Lawrence Beesley wrote that, after the collision:

"...I jumped out of bed, slipped on a dressing-gown over pyjames, put on shoes and went out of my cabin into the hall near the saloon. Here was a steward leaning against a staircase, probably waiting until those in the smoke-room above had gone to bed and he could put out the lights."

I have always wondered who this man was. I had originally thought of James Witter, who was seen just after this outside the stewards quarters (according to Walter Lord). Also, Hardy did mention in his testimony that four stewards were kept at their stations between the hours of eleven and twelve.

Hope this is of some help.

Best regards,
Cook
 

Paul Lee

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Thanks for all your help!

(Just one more little question: would the lights in the public gangways, such as boatdeck and A-deck promedades, also be left on?)

Cheers to you all!
Paul
 

Bob Godfrey

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Hi, Cook. It was the saloon stewards (ie the waiters) who were off duty for the night (the people that Paul thought might have been laying tables). There were always a few bedroom stewards on night duty, along with the night watchmen. One of these, James Johnston, survived and his testimony at the British enquiry is interesting in shedding some light on the night duties. Johnston's own 'zone' was in and around the 1st Class saloon, and he appears to have had supervisory responsibilities for others who kept watch elsewhere: "There is a bedroom steward and a night watchman on each deck, and all the third class and all the second class reported to me each night when they came on watch".

I'd forgotten about Beesley's encounter, which makes it clear that the 2nd Class Smoking Room also was still in use and with lights on at the time of the collision.

Paul, Hardy stated that he went off duty "after going around the ship and seeing that all the unnecessary lights were out". I seem to recall reading elsewhere that that included most of the lights on the promenades and companionways other than those needed for passengers to find their way back to their cabins. He was referring to the 2nd Class areas, but I imagine a similar policy would have been followed in 1st Class.
 

Lee Gilliland

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Something occurs - I imagine, Paul, that your question was originally asked because of the description of the Titanic by the Californian? But I imagine most of the lights were turned back on after the collision and when the passengers and crew were awakened, yet I've never heard anyone mention this.
 

Inger Sheil

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Interesting insight there from Dave, Donald, Bob and of course Cookie (how many times has Beesley's text 'shed light' on a question, eh?). You working on a new angle, Paul?

One thing that intrigued me was the indication of the light level on the boat deck during the evacuation. Lowe, for example - although he didn't delve into the issue during the inquiries - later told John Simpson's sister that the doctor had given him a torch to assist him on the boatdeck (an interesting indication of where the electric torch he was later seen carrying by witnesses such as Sara Compton came from). Another witness, when pressed on the identification of an officer, replied that it was difficult to tell who it was because of the darkness. While it's difficult to find too much supporting evidence that this darkness was materially a factor in hindering the loading and lowering of the lifeboats, it surely didn't help.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi everyone,
Well, one thing I am interested in is allowing people to view various aspects of the Titanic disaster via Java based applets, so that anyone with a web browser can experiment with how the disaster might have turned out had things been different.
My first attempt at this idea (modelling the flooding of the Titanic) has been put on hold, but my next idea is to show what people on the Titanic and Californian (and later on, Carpathia and Mount Temple) would have seen the night of the disaster.
Big project, but it should be worthwhile in the end!

Best wishes

Paul
 

Inger Sheil

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Ah - good stuff, Paul! I saw your earlier post referring to this project and found the description tantalising. Applying the same sort of analytical and perceptive approach you do to your other sphere of interest will make this a fascinating project for us to follow. The simulation idea is great - although inevitably if the results on the Californian don't match the preconceptions or ideas of the viewer (whatever side they take on the controversy) you'll cop criticism from some quarters. Sounds like you're taking great pains to be as specific as possible in what data you input, though, so the results are going to be interesting - to understate matters!
 

Paul Lee

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Hi all,
I don't really mind if pro-Lord or anti-Lord people say "thats not whats in the testimony", I'm just going to show what it would have looked like that night.
I'm toying with the idea of extending the simulation to show the early morning scenario, which may be tricky as it would have to show the icefield, which may be very controversial, even a highly simplified view as I am proposing.... so...another question (!).... is there a website that calculates what time the sun rises and sets for a given day and co-ordinate?

Best wishes to all!

Paul
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I don't really mind if pro-Lord or anti-Lord people say "thats not whats in the testimony", I'm just going to show what it would have looked like that night.<<

That's about all you can do. However, I wouldn't confine myself to just the testimony. You might want to check out authors claims, affidavits, etc, and present something along the lines of "This is how it would have looked if what [insert name of claimant here] asserted was true."

You'll catch some heat for it no matter what, but you'll be in good company, so don't let that stop you.
 
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