Were there enough bathrooms on Titanic

May 9, 2001
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Hi all,

Ever had to stand in line to go to the restroom at a public place, like a movie theater, or sports event? Ever stood in a hallway outside the bathroom while wearing your PJ's, holding your towel, and shaving kit; waiting for the person occupying the room to vacate. (Think of when the in-laws stay over at Christmas, or that weekend at the bed-n-breakfast with one bath)
Lets face it, it happens. Today its not such a big deal to see people in their night clothes,or less, while staying at a hotel. I confess, I've made a few dashes for the ice machine in my undies over the years. (Sorry for that imagery) :)
But what about the passengers on Titanic?
(I know they didn't have ice machines or coke machines in the halls)
Especially the ones in first class. Did they have to line up in the corridores outside the bathrooms waiting their turn? If we could be a fly on the wall of the first class stateroom areas, would we see the prim and proper elite passangers milling about in their robes and slippers?
The reason I think of this is that while studying the deck plans on this site,(as well as the copies of the originals for Olympic that can be found on the web), I noticed that the arrangement of the public baths and toilets in first class seemed to be few and far between. Also, the bathrooms, i.e. rooms with tubs, seem to open to the corridors. No foyer or waiting areas.
Now I know many first class staterooms had private facilities, but most did not, right? Besides, the ones with private facilities only had a toilet and sink, right? Isn't that what a "WC" is, a toilet and a sink? In the states we call that a "half-bath" or a "Powder room". (In Texas we call it an out-house by the creek. Put a basket of old corn cobs by the seat, you'll be talking like John Wayne in a week!)

So I can imagine myself as a first class passenger with a modest stateroom without a private WC. In the morning when I awake, I grab my toothbrush and razor and head to the sink in my room. (I believe all rooms onboard had a sink) I plug the sink, pour into it some water from the jug that the steward left yesterday. I brush my teeth and shave and wash my face. (not in that order)
Now, I need to bath. (no shower?!!) I pack up my soap and other items into my kit and put on my robe and slippers. It feels a bit drafty in only a robe and slippers, on a ship, in the north Atlantic. I open the door and peer down the hall toward the bathrooms. Seeing only an empty hallway, I discretely slip outside and quietly step down the soft carpet to the first door of the Gent's bathroom. (not the restroom mind you. I'm talking about the little room that has the tub.) As I approach, I see that the room is occupied. (maybe there's a note on the door or a sign outside?) So I walk on to the next one. Also taken. Finally I discover that all three are being used. So I stand there for a moment, in silence, waiting anxiously for a vacancy. Then, I hear a door open nearby. Footsteps! And Kate Winslet and Leo stroll casually by. She flashes a look of surprise. My eyes go wide with embarrasement from being seen by a strange lady, me in only my intimates. ...er, uh, robe that is.
Then from inside one of the bath rooms, I hear a man's voice singing loudly as he baths. (Paveratti SR. ?) Unwilling to endure this further, I quickly go back to my room. I'll have the steward bring me a jug of fresh, hot, water and sponge off in my room. But, dash it my room has locked behind me and I didn't bring my key! I fear someone will see me like this! Then, as I assault the doorknob to vent my aggresion, my kit falls open spilling its contents all over the floor. Including my bottle of itch cream for that rash in a hard to reach spot that people in 1912 don't mention to anyone! I see it roll along the persian rug and I give chase. Stumbling after the thing until it is stopped by the shoe of a fellow passenger. I rise to see Mrs. Brown, (yes THE Mrs. M. Brown of Denver), reaching down and picking up my medicine and giving me a look as she offers it back to me. I am unable to speak. Taking back the adventurous bottle from her, she says only, "Next time Ya might find a room with a private bath more to your liking sir. Should I encounter a steward, I'll be sure to send him your way." She swaggers off and a moment later my steward appears with a coffee set and flowers on a cart. (not for me unfortunately). He opens my room for me. I request some hot water and inform him that I'll be taking my breakfast in my room, as well as lunch and quite possibly all subsequent meals till New York. As I look out the porthole over the sea outside, I am thinking of a polite letter I am going to send to the White Star Line regarding their need to improve the design of the Gent's bath rooms.

Ok, maybe nothing like that ever happened. But with that many people in such tight quarters and with the plans indicating so few facilities available, without going up or down a deck; I have to think that such a senario is quite possible.
And that's just in first class. What was it like for those in 2nd, or third?
Why, the thought of such encounters is simply scandalous!

Yuri Singleton
 
Dec 2, 2000
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G'Day Yuri, You wouldn't have to worry about keys at least as back then, staterooms weren't locked except in port.

I'll have to check my plans tonight, but from what I remember, 2cnd and 3rd clas facilities were even more sparse.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Dean Manning

Guest
hi yuri. How the hang are you? haven't heard from you in quite some time!

In any case, I think the pattern is that as you go down in class, the longer the line gets to use the bathrooms, like Michael pointed out.

Anyway, good to see your post here!

-Dean
 
May 12, 2005
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Yuri,

Your fanciful hypothetical may not have been so fanciful. And it was VERY entertaining - might we expect a Titanic novel from you some day, sir?

Yuri you've raised a point that has puzzled me as well. I admit I haven't looked carefully over all the deck plans but I have checked out the one for A-Deck and though that deck would have been less crowded than others, the shortage of bathrooms is still obvious.

I feel sure mishaps happened over the bathrooms, maybe even something akin to the "adventurous bottle" scenario you invented, but one thing I think we can be pretty certain of is that most people (particularly women) in first class would not have been trailing through the corridors in their underwear or nightclothes. Especially with all the grand folks one was likely to run into at every corner. Just imagine standing in the hall in your woolies or pjs and a robe and trying to seem dignified as the Countess of Rothes or Mrs. Astor passed by.

I feel sure the more distinguished ladies at least would have had appointed bath times. The stewardesses must have had some sort of schedule to keep to re: baths and as not all the ladies in first had maids along,they would have had to help them dress and undress, draw their bath, arrange their hair and assist with other aspects of "milady's toilette." This would inevitably be very time consuming.

Because of this alone, not everyone could have had an A.M. bath. Some people must have opted for evening baths or else just washed in the basin in their room. Also as for the commode or toilet itself, I think there must have been portables for emergencies or late at night when a lady would not have entered the halls unaccompanied.

Randy
 
May 9, 2001
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Excellent points Randy! That makes sense that the stewards/esses would have worked out some type of scheduled times. They would almost certainly have had to clean the rooms up after each use and thus the necessity of such a schedule.

Hey Dean!
Good to hear from you too. I'm still reading the documents you sent me. Yeah I'd almost be willing to bet that the third class passengers weren't expected, by White Star, to bath as often as the upper class people. But did you notice on the deck plans for the Third Class common area beneath the poop deck, that there are no men's rooms indicated? Guess after a few pints of stout the lads would have to dash/stagger/tumble down the stairs to the next deck. (or take a casual stroll to the stern and admire the stars above and all that water below.)
Most guys will get that. ;)

'G-day' to you too Michael,
I would have to think that the staterooms would be locked at sea as well. All that jewelry and money aboard. The master at arms would have to post guards in the First Class areas if the doors weren't locked. If I were a 1st class passenger I would certainly want to lock my door while I'm away at dinner or someplace.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, do you mean the doors would not lock behind you like modern hotel doors do? Please elaborate.
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Thanks,
Yuri
 
Aug 17, 2006
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Yuri, Dean, Randy, Michael!
It's been my pleasure reading this! Besides being VERY entertaining (YURI!), it helped to somewhat answer some questions I have already considered.

Please share any other info you might have about this topic; I will faithfully follow every word!

ADRIANNE
 
Dec 2, 2000
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G'day again, Yuri. Strange as it might seem, the staterooms simply were not locked at sea. Theft, while not unheard of was surprisingly rare in those days. It was a VERY different time.

This little known fact was the undoing of a fraudulant maritime antiques dealer who tried to offer perported cabin keys from the Titanic several years back. He was completely ignorant of the fact that passangers were never issued cabin keys back then. (Source, Liners To The Sun, by John Maxtone Grahram, pg 247 Second edition, copyright 2000)

Surprise, surprise! ;-)

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
May 9, 2001
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Michael you amaze me! What an interesting fact.
I always enjoy that moment when I learn something completely new about Titanic. Thank you for sharing that bit of knowledge with me.

Here's something else that seems curious to me. How does someone take a bath at sea? I realize that Titanic was large enough to not be tossed about by the waves, but other passenger ships of the time, like Carpathia or Californian, surely would roll and pitch around too much to allow someone to take a bath in a tub, right? So then was the concept of actually taking a hot bath while at sea another of the new luxuries provided by Titanic? (this question will no doubt make it obvious that I have Never been to sea).

Another question for any seafarers among us, did the Titanic pump in sea water to operate the toilets? That would corrode the pipes wouldn't it?
Perhaps that goes to the answer of my initial question. The need to pump water to the bathrooms might require limiting the number of bathrooms in order to maintain water pressure. Also centralizing the bathrooms in odd places may be to allow easier plumbing from the engine rooms. The baths were close to the boiler casings as I remember.
Like any self contained biosphere, Titanic had to conserve its fresh water supply. The Titanic was equipped with steam powered ash ejectors. Used for eliminating boiler ashes from the boiler rooms. I wonder is a similar system was used to flush the toilets? Steam-toilets??? Don't sit down too long or you might start to whistle!
(And avoid that b'dei at all costs!)

Yuri
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Michael Standart! Oh my, Michael are you now telling me that the entire A-Deck Plastic Computerized Keys to all staterooms I purchased on eBay are bogus?

And Dean, that guy standing next to me on the Boat Deck was not just getting me to look at that star for 5 minutes due to its fine beauty, but had another motive as he shifted his weight from side to side and suddenly threw himself to the side of the ship? Hmmmmmmm.

And Yuri, trust me, try being a woman sometime and go to a foot ballgame during the SuperBowl and try to use the bathrooms at half time. But I will sleep well tonight just dreaming of you in your undies,...sorry just a robe?hmmmmmm. And roaming around the halls in search of a warm bath.

But on a serious note, does anyone have the statistics or behavioral science facts about how often an actual bath took place in 1912? I believe that we bathe much more often than our ancestors did. And I also believe that there was a tiolet and sink in each room area. Perhaps the hallway tiolets were provided for those away from their rooms, but for general public use for each floor. Or do we know that these floor plan "baths" were in fact just baths...just curious guys.
But thanks for all the stuff you are putting together! Made my day!
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Maureen.
 
May 12, 2005
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Maureen,

Re: the little question of bathing

Average folk probably took less baths than today. A daily bath was not unusual for rich people though. Even in the days of the funk-laden court of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and her ladies took baths every day. It was the courtiers who surrounded them that were so foul.

In the Edwardian era, daily bathing would still have been considered a luxury for most but for the rich it was no expense and besides, being very sociable and dressy as upper class people tend to be, cleanliness was next to chicness. Society ladies were actually very fond and particular of their morning bath and massage and "toilette."

They spent hours, usually from 9 to after eleven getting washed, rubbed down, plucked, powdered, coiffed, and perfumed, not to mention dressed. Then it was off to lunch with the ladies, then shopping, then tea, back home to dress for dinner, after which you were off to dance, then back home in the wee hours to find a bit of cold soup or some wafers left by a thoughtful maid, undress and sleep til 8 when breakfast would be brought in on a tray. What a life!!!

Randy
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Okay, where do I sign up! Haven;t been coiffed and plucked in years. Wait, that doesnlt sound right. Anyway, thanks Randy...you always know all of this stuff, wow. Thanks!
Maureen.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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I seem to remember quantities of CHAMBER POTS being recovered- I even REMEMBER chamberpots! These were on the wash stand with bowls and pitchers or tucked discreetly under the bed for nocturnal forays. In the morning they were collected, emptied into "slop jars" and contents disposed of. Gross- huh? Hey- I grew up on a chicken farm in the country- with outhouses too!The chamberpots were bleached and left on the roof to whiten once a week. Titanic had lots of 'em in the debris field. Now MY pressing question was (great SCOTT) what was bathroom tissue like-(a.k.a. toilet paper!!). If it was anything like what one encounters in Europe today..I wish 'em luck!
 
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Mmmmmmm...Yuri, I'm not all that familier with the Titanic's plumbing arrangements, but I suspect that the salt water was provided by the same system of pumps which supplied the firemains. Every ship I've ever been on does it that way. You're right about how corrosive salt water is on pipes by the way. Anything which is worn out is generally replaced during refit. What helps for modern cruise ships/liners is that freshwater is supplied for the flushing system these days. Not only is it less corrosive, the passangers don't have to deal with the often noxious smells of water taken up from local harbors...which can be surprisingly gamey. Trust me, I know this from personal experience.

Oh and I wouldn't go so far as to say that the large liners never rolled. They certainly did and so do ships today which are even larger then the Titanic.(Yes, even the big American aircraft carriers!) Some were worse then others due to design defects. The Imperator was one unhappy example, and her excessive topweight was no help. The problem was never really licked either in spite of shortening the stacks during her first refit and adding ballast at least twice during her career. Nowadays, fin stabilisers minimise the problem, but back then, no such conveinience existed and a transatlantic ride could be a very lively one. Especially in the winter.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
May 9, 2001
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What a fun conversation this has been. Thanks to everyone for participating.
I think I need to invest in a set of deck plans from Harland and Wolfe, if they still offer them.
I say this because I think more 1st class rooms actually had private baths than I had originally thought. The only way to be sure is to see the official plans. The plans on the web are all too hard to scrutinize with certainty. (I love the plans on this web site because their so interactive, but I can't be 100% certain of the accuracy since I haven't compared them to anything.)
So I'll have to try to purchase them as a Birthday gift to myself.

I really must say that this web site and message board is a really powerful tool for research and discovery. No where else can someone, anyone, get an answer to a question or get others' opinions regarding something of interest. No, this place is unique and special. Phil, I wonder what you must think when you see what a popular place this web site has become. I truly think that this site: Encyclopedia Titanica, is as much a part of the history of Titanic as the honorable societies that have grown to promote her memory. So, I'd just like to say, "Thanks Phil, and thanks everyone for being here and participating."

Ok, chin up. Blow your nose and stop that snibbling man.
Seriously, I've never learned so much about Titanic as I have here. Its amazing what happens when people can communicate en mass.

Sincerely,

Yuri Singleton
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Yuri, if it's deck plans you want, you need go no further then what's offered in Eaton & haas, Titanic, Triumph and Tragedy. They even have the stateroom numbers there...as well as the location of the bathrooms.

Or if you prefer, you can get Titanic, The Official Story, which has deck plans and copies of a number of official documents.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
May 9, 2001
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Thanks for the recommendations Michael. I'll add those titles to my library, but my concern is that the plans or documents presented in book form might not be large enough, or might have important details obscured by the book binding in the center. Do the plans in these books come out of the book?
Yuri
 

Mike Herbold

Member
Feb 13, 2001
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If you really want to spend some money, the Titanic Historical Society sells some large scale plans that are very detailed. Their item 10I99 for $180.00 is 1/100th scale. They also have posters that are fairly good size (22" wide") for $10.

My favorite drawings are the ones that came inserted in the back pocket of Geoffrey Marcus' book "Maiden Voyage." Keep you eyes open for this one on eBay and you should be able to pick up a copy for $20-30. But make sure the description states that the fold-out drawings are included.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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G'Day Yuri, The plans are printed on the inside covers of Titanic, Triumph and Tragedy so don't try to yank them out unless you want to rip the covers off. The plans in Titanic, The Official Story are foldout sheets which go along with the copies of the other documents in the box. These days, I keep a magnifying glass handy to make out the writing in places but only because my 40 going on 41 year old eyes aren't what they used to be even 10 years ago.
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Mike, Now you've done it! I'm going to have to check out what's offered on the THS website. My Visa card is crying for mercy again!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Robert M. Himmelsbach

Guest
In response to this entire thread, and particularly Maureens' comments: True, even the first class didn't bathe as much as we do nowadays. Many people, even the rich, contented themselves with a sponge bath once or even twice a day, and saved the big production number for Saturday night (to be ready for church on Sunday) or before a big social event.
Look at the photos of the period - both men and women had a certain shine to their hair, and that's not brilliantine! That's not washing your hair for two-three days at a time. Personally, if I do that, I look like a 50's greaser real quick!
So the average person on board would have contented themselves with a full bath perhaps twice or maybe thrice in the whole journey.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Dear Robert,
Thanks for your comments. I am one of these hopeless, I must wash my hair everyday freaks or I too would be volunteered for the next oil drill site in North America.

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Maureen.