Working Conditions


Nov 14, 2005
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Does anybody know what the average temps were for the crew working in the engine room and or boiler rooms? I'm sure it was warm/hot at times. Not specific numbers down to the degree but were there any complaints from the crew on the Olympic class that they were better or worse than other ships? I did some searches but nothing came up. Thanks in advance if anyone knows.
 
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Kate Powell

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Does anybody know what the average temps were for the crew working in the engine room and or boiler rooms? I'm sure it was warm/hot at times. Not specific numbers down to the degree but were there any complaints from the crew on the Olympic class that they were better or worse than other ships? I did some searches but nothing came up. Thanks in advance if anyone knows.

Hello Steven,

I am currently reading 'Down Amongst the Black Gang: The World and Workplace of RMS Titanic's Stokers' by Richard P. De Kerbrech as I wanted to learn more about the working conditions for the stokers.

So far I have read that the stokers would drink oatmeal or honey mead from a can to keep hydrated and on ships in the tropics, temperatures would reach 140F-150F with the crew going up on deck to recover from heat exhaustion. On North Atlantic runs, the fire crew often became dehydrated on their four hour shifts and had to work and cope with the levels of noise around the stokeholds. The stokers must have been really strong resilient men to work in those conditions.

I do know Thomas Andrews had a drinking fountain installed for the boiler room workers on Titanic and surviving fireman George Kemish remarked that Titanic was;

"a good job in the stokehold. Not what we were accustomed to in other ships - slogging our guts out and nearly roasted with the heat."

This books a great read and like you, I'd like to learn more if anyone has new information.
 
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Cam Houseman

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Does anybody know what the average temps were for the crew working in the engine room and or boiler rooms? I'm sure it was warm/hot at times. Not specific numbers down to the degree but were there any complaints from the crew on the Olympic class that they were better or worse than other ships? I did some searches but nothing came up. Thanks in advance if anyone knows.
Like Kate very well said, the Boiler Rooms were hot, and stuffy. I think the Engine Room were warm, but not as much, since the main Machinery in that room were the Engines.

But, I'm probably wrong.
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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Hello Steven,

I am currently reading 'Down Amongst the Black Gang: The World and Workplace of RMS Titanic's Stokers' by Richard P. De Kerbrech as I wanted to learn more about the working conditions for the stokers.

So far I have read that the stokers would drink oatmeal or honey mead from a can to keep hydrated and on ships in the tropics, temperatures would reach 140F-150F with the crew going up on deck to recover from heat exhaustion. On North Atlantic runs, the fire crew often became dehydrated on their four hour shifts and had to work and cope with the levels of noise around the stokeholds. The stokers must have been really strong resilient men to work in those conditions.

I do know Thomas Andrews had a drinking fountain installed for the boiler room workers on Titanic and surviving fireman George Kemish remarked that Titanic was;

"a good job in the stokehold. Not what we were accustomed to in other ships - slogging our guts out and nearly roasted with the heat."

This books a great read and like you, I'd like to learn more if anyone has new information.
Thank you for the reply. I haven't read that book but just added it to my list. Sounds like a book I would like. I can believe those temps you cited. I often had to go into spaces that were that hot or hotter. But it was a jump in and jump out kind of thing. Not a whole shift. Thanks again.
 
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Rancor

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Have also read the Blackgang book that Kate mentioned and can highly recommend it if you've got any interest in matters 'down below'.

As mentioned it seems that the conditions in stokeholds in the early ships must have been horrendous. The book mentions people passing out and having to be hauled onto deck and splashed with water to recover, at which point they were sent straight down again.

The addition of ventilation fans or forced-draught blowers must have made the temperatures more bearable in the more modern ships such as Titanic.
 

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