spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes) spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes)

spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes)

spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes) spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes)
spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes)

Updated: Nov. 24th, 2007

spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes)

Sample Rooms at Harland & Wolff. The Engineer / Author’s collection.

One of the Sample Rooms at Harland & Wolff, where shipping company representatives could view some of the interior furnishings and designs available for their ships. The Engineer / Author’s collection

Cabinetmakers’ Shop. H&W / Author’s collection.

This image, also circa 1899, shows men in the Cabinetmakers’ Shop constructing “Compactom” fold-up washbasin cabinets. H&W / Author’s collection

1st Class cot beds from Olympic awaiting auction in 1935. Daniel Klistorner collection.

1st Class cot beds from Olympic awaiting auction in 1935. Above the wooden cot bed is a Pullman berth. The brass bedstead was not original but was added to some Tourist Class cabins on Olympic during the 1928 refit.
Daniel Klistorner collection

Stateroom Paneling, Louis XIV Style. Peter Speakman collection.

Stateroom Paneling, Louis XIV Style.
Daniel Klistorner collection

An illustration of a common shipboard straight stair of Titanic’s era. Author’s collection.

   Introduction - By the time of Titanic’s launch, the ocean liners in their comfort, luxury and service far outstripped the hotels with which they were sometimes compared. Though 3rd Class accommodations remained spartan in their simplicity, 2nd Class had gone far beyond any of the best accommodations available several decades earlier, and 1st Class accommodations were elegant if not lavish in their appointments. In this, British ocean liners of the prewar era traditionally followed a general overall design scheme: since these liners were considered floating hotels, they often mirrored, and in fact copied, the favored “period” designs from Europe. In the palatial 1st Class suites of Titanic could be seen the paneling of Adam, the oak of Louis XVI, the grey of Louis XV, the white of the Empire and the fine woodwork of the Italian Renaissance, not to mention Queen Anne, Regency, Modern Dutch and Old Dutch rooms . . .

Image above, Straight Stairs - An illustration of a common shipboard straight stair of Titanic’s era.
Author’s collection

   Joiners and artisans - Titanic’s interiors were designed in London, Liverpool and Belfast by Aldam, Heaton & Co., this firm having worked on earlier White Star liners and the homes of the Ismay family. With the rush on in Belfast to complete Olympic in 1911, Aldam, Heaton & Co. was taken over by International Mercantile Marine’s Oceanic Transport Company, which was, for all purposes, Harland & Wolff. The result was that the Belfast shipbuilders effectively had their own “in-house” decorators.

   One of the architects who took part in the interior design of Olympic and Titanic was Arthur Henry Durand (1875-1958). Durand studied architecture in Brussels from 1891 to 1893, and from there he traveled to Paris where he took part in the design of the Eiffel Tower. For this he received the honor of official recognition at the hands of the President of the French Republic, Monsieur Sadi Carnot. In 1897 he came to London where he was employed by a decoration firm and would officially commence his architecture practice in 1903. Durand’s work had been seen in White Star Line vessels as well as the Mongolia for the P. & O. Line.

   A good many of Titanic's interior fittings were made and/or installed either by Harland & Wolff or the suppliers or manufacturers of the items themselves. One very prominent outside firm that did so was H. P. Mutters & Zoon of Holland which was contracted to craft and fit out twelve of the special staterooms designed in a period style . . . (continued)

   Styles of design: Renaissance - The Jacobean period brought about the great architecture of Inigo Jones (1572-1653), probably the first English architect who practiced the Renaissance style in its simplicity. Inigo Jones studied closely the work of the Italian Palladio, and Charles I encouraged him liberally. During the Jacobean period furniture, furnishings and the work of cabinetmakers was of a decidedly hybrid type, and far removed from the exquisite, dignified and purely Italian artistic work that was practiced by Jones and his contemporaries.

   Sir Christopher Wren, several years after the death of Inigo Jones in 1653, became prominent in furthering the Renaissance style. Wren studied in Paris and became imbued with the French Renaissance spirit, hence he was liberal in its expression whereas Jones showed restraint. Wren’s style was almost Baroque: pendants of flowers, shells and fruits were used in abundance, and carving was of an over-elaborate and highly ornamented character . . . (continued)

   “Special staterooms” - On B and C Decks were the “special staterooms” of unparalleled luxury that Olympic and Titanic were so famous for. Brochures, magazines and newspapers all boasted of the eleven luxurious styles in which the various bedrooms and sitting rooms were decorated. These were, namely, the Adam style, Italian Renaissance, Georgian, Regency, Empire, Louis Quatorze (Louis XIV), Louis Quinze (Louis XV), Louis Seize (Louis XVI), Queen Anne, Modern Dutch and Old Dutch. While this is an impressive array of popular styles from centuries past, the number is made even more impressive by designs created by variations of many of these styles. Consequently, there were nineteen unique representations of eleven period styles. Additionally, there were two special styles of Harland & Wolff’s own design. One, Harland & Wolff’s “Bedroom A” design, was reminiscent of Louis XV, with plainly but elegantly carved oak panels and elegant oak furniture on cabriole legs . . . (continued)

   Carpets - The heavy, deep pile of Axminster made it an ideal floor covering for pubic rooms where warmth and luxurious effect were desired. However it did wear readily, especially in heavy traffic areas, so “lino” tile was primarily used in such areas on Titanic. Generally the Axminster was reserved for the Reception Room, Reading and Writing Room, 1st Class Lounge and the period rooms. Designs in the carpet were obtained by weaving a pattern two or three tones darker or lighter than the “groundwork,” creating a detached pattern. Common themes for these patterns included the Empire wreath, the fleur de lis, the Adam vase and other motifs reproduced from English and French furniture and embroideries. “All over” patterns were based on simple trellis or latticework and of course variations of each could be seen.

   With the English handmade carpet, each tuft was knotted in position individually by the weaver, and therefore the scope for unique coloring and unusual design was almost unlimited. Practically any type of composition to suit the character of the buyer's room was available in England . . . (continued)

   Stateroom and interior doors - In a large passenger liner, hundreds of stateroom and cabin doors were required, and many varied designs were adopted. The two chief features which distinguished one design from another were the arrangement for ventilation and the design of the general framing of which the door formed a part and to which the general outline and decorative features of the door were required to conform.

   A typical design of stateroom door very commonly used consisted of two or three panels. If the door communicated between a stateroom or cabin and a corridor, the bottom panel would be fitted with louvers for ventilation. In the crew berthing areas, many of the doors were fitted with “louver and frets,” which was a combination of a louver panel and an expanded or perforated metal screen to permit ventilation. The frame was made up of two stiles, a top rail, a lock rail, a louver rail (if fitted), and a bottom rail . . . (continued)

Other topics in this chapter:

British period design - Tudor - Jacobean - Renaissance - William and Mary - Queen Anne - Georgian - Chippendale - Sheraton - French styles - Italian Renaissance - Dutch - Shipboard rooms - Tile - Fabrics for furniture coverings and curtains - Ship Joinery - Interior bulkhead construction - Doorframes - Casings for sidelights - Cabin shutters and casings - Ceilings - Dining saloons and large public rooms - Finishing of hardwood - Portable bulkheads - Exterior doors - Doorknobs and plates - Brass doorway signs - Door splats - Sliding doors in deckhouses - Interior ladders and stairs - Spiral staircases - Exterior ladders and stairs - Cot beds - Two-tiered berths - Pullman berth - Bed-and-drawer berth - Sofa berth - folding seat - Luggage rack - Wall tidy - Steinway and Sons

Copyright 2007 Beveridge, Hall, Andrews, Klistorner and Braunschweiger.

spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes)
spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes) spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes)

spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes) spacer-transparent.gif (814 bytes)