Stewardesses

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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The stewardesses were quite few in number and nearly all assigned to First Class. They could be summoned by a system of electric bells. The short answer to what was expected of them was anything within reason, ranging from the usual housekeeping and room service duties of hotel staff to the more personal tasks involved in looking after 'their' passengers, which might include providing advice or just a sympathetic ear. Many of the ladies in First Class, however, had their own maids on board and no doubt kept them busy too. If you want to know more about the life and work of a stewardess, the ideal source is the book: Titanic Survivor - the memoirs of Violet Jessop Stewardess.
 
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Jake Angus

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So, the stewardesses made the beds and tidied up? Were the sheets changed daily or at the end of the voyage?

Or did the stewards make the beds if a male passenger was travelling alone?

This next question is better suited to Life On Board, but I'll take my chances: if a FC passenger chose to breakfast in their stateroom, was there an extra charge? Or did the passenger give the steward/ess a bigger gratuity at the end of the voyage?
 
Oct 14, 2003
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Thanks Bob, you've been a great help!

Hi Jake!

I'm not sure, but I understood that if passengers chose to have their meals not in the dining room then they had to pay extra.

Also gratuity was optional so a really stingy passenger could chose to not give them any money. Not that they didn't have it to throw around. In the passenger booklet supplied there was a note saying that any demands for payment by the steward/esses were to be dealt with by their superiors.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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I don't know how often the sheets were changed, but in all cabin areas there were a great many linen lockers so they must have carried more than were on the beds - in Third Class possibly only enough to cover a change for the return journey. At the end of the voyage (had they got that far) the soiled linen would have been taken to White star's own laundry in Southampton.

Most passengers in First Class would have avoided taking breakfast in their cabins without good reason - the nobility didn't like to 'take liberties' with the serving classes. It's clear, by the way, from Violet Jessop's memoirs that there was little correlation between the level of demands made by any particular passenger and the size of the tip! Her own particular resentment, however, was that so few gave any other sign of appreciation for good service. Violet's own description of the work of the (male) stewards, incidentally, was "years of bell-answering, slop-emptying, floor-washing, bed-making, tea carrying and the trundling of baggage".
 
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Laura Wilkinson

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Hi all, I was going through James Cameron's Titanic Explorer and, although I'm sure everyone probably knows this, I found out that there were only 23 female crew, three of which died in the sinking. Were all of these stewardesses? Or were there some cooks among them?
And I heard that they didn't want too many female crew, as they did not want pretty young girls annoying the female passengers, or something like that. Loz
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Mostly stewardesses (including the Third Class 'matron'), plus the turkish bath attendant, masseuse and two restaurant cashiers. Those who died were the matron and the two stewardesses assigned to Second Class. The kitchen staff were all male.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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When Violet Jessop attended her first interview for work as a stewardess, with the Royal Mail Line in 1908, she was told that the company had reservations about her suitability. The work was generally offered only to officer's widows, and she was not only far too young (at 21) but too attractive, which might lead to all kinds of complications at sea. Violet then wisely enlisted the help of her mother in devising strategies to make her attractiveness as inconspicuous as possible, including a 'man-frightening' wardrobe to keep the wolves from her door. If we are to believe her memoirs, her strategies were not entirely successful!
 
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Laura Wilkinson

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Yeah, I've read her memoirs, seems she was quite the popular girl! I thought her memoirs were very interesting! Thanks Bob for the info, think I'll have to read the memoirs again, haven't read it 4 a while!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Laura, when Violet was raising chickens in her senior years she lived 'just up the road' from me, but unfortunately that was before I became interested in Titanic so I missed the chance to meet her. Lost opportunity!
 
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Laura Wilkinson

Guest
Hi, sorry for the late response, couldn't remember where this conversation was! How unlucky about Violet, would of been interesting for you to have met her. Do you know anyone who has met her? Was she nice? I think she would have been, from reading her book. Loz
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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There are people in these parts who remember her, but I've not met anyone who really knew her. Violet comes across from her memoirs as a person who would be difficult to get close to. I see her as imaginative (some of her recollections have to be treated with caution!) and a romantic who was often disappointed with other people who didn't quite meet the expectations she had of them.
 
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Laura Wilkinson

Guest
Thanks Bob, I agree with you! Violet's one of my favourite people from Titanic, and by that I mean interesting, along with others. Loz
 
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Hannah Smith

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HI!
Does anyone know the cabin number of Violet Constance Jessop [Stewardess]?
Any info would be fab!
Thanks
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Hallo, Hannah. The crew cabins were not numbered. The stewardesses were quartered in two or three berth cabins in scattered locations in the passenger areas, generally taking up the least favoured spaces next to toilets or stairwells. Violet did mention that hers was a two-berth cabin, but she didn't reveal its location. Neither did she identify her room-mate except by a brief character sketch and a false name.
 
Oct 14, 2003
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I don't know her cabin number but her biography on this page suggests that she might have been in the same room as Elizabeth Leather.

Personally I thought many of them shared one room but if this guy suggests that there was only two of them then maybe they had a room per two stewardesses.
 
Jun 4, 2003
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Hi all! Happy New Year! Can anyone tell me if the female stewardesses in 1st class were assigned to specific posts or only to particular female passengers? Also, were they somewhat "engaged" to certain women or perhaps to persons of special authority, wealth etc? Thanks!!!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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I can't figure how this relates to the subject matter of this thread, but each stewardess was assigned to a 'section' and was expected to cater for the needs of all the ladies resident there, regardless of their individual levels of wealth or celebrity. In practice, some ladies were far more demanding than others, and likewise some were far more rewarding than others, but the most demanding were not necessarily the most generous! The male bedroom stewards worked in allocated territories in the same way. Each steward was responsible for about 8-10 cabins.