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Updated: Nov. 24th, 2007

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Doulton Urinals. Courtesy Terry Woolliscroft of Twyford Bathrooms.

Doulton Urinals - This image from a Doulton catalog shows urinals of the type fitted to Titanic. The ones shown in the illustration had marble dividers and would have been fitted throughout 1st and 2nd Class; those in 3rd Class would have had oiled-slate dividers. Courtesy Terry Woolliscroft of Twyford Bathrooms

Wreck footage courtesy Bernhard Funk.

Shanks “Pacific” model water closet as seen in Titanic’s debris field.
Wreck footage courtesy Bernhard Funk

Author’s collection.

Image shows one of Olympic’s public baths.
(Full description right)

  Introduction - By the early part of the 20th century, the law looked after crews and passengers in a sanitary sense with reasonable thoroughness. But although shipping companies were now required to exercise due diligence in providing proper sanitation, they had also discovered the advertising advantages of promoting the ingenuity, the refinements and the luxury of the modern sanitary arrangements they could now provide. The result was that the great liners of Titanic's era lacked nothing that would be found in an up-to-date mansion or hotel on land.

Shanks & Co. Advertisement. The Shipbuilder / Author’s.

  Titanic’s sanitary fittings were surprisingly similar in appearance to those used ashore. 1st Class had the best accommodations, of course, but by no means did the lower classes suffer. Perhaps the biggest drawback to Olympic and Titanic’s sanitary fittings was the relatively small number of private water closets and baths. Though bathing was not necessarily a daily activity for many people in 1912, the trip to a water closet on Titanic could sometimes involve a climb to another deck or a walk to the opposite end of the ship . . . (continued)


Image above, Shanks & Co. Advertisement - A period advertisement from Shanks & Co.
The Shipbuilder / Author’s collection

   Lavatory and washbasin fittings - Many of the Royal Doulton fittings on Titanic included washbasins of glazed porcelain or glazed earthenware, nickel-plated taps, and other hardware fittings to accompany their products. Washbasins manufactured by Shanks could be seen in public accommodations and most notably in the private baths of the 1st Class suites, being wall mounted in marble tops and back splashes with iron brackets.

   The best 1st Class staterooms were provided with Doulton washbasins set in veined or St. Anne’s marble upon wooden table stands fitted with a cabinet below and paneled doors. These washbasin cabinets, sometimes referred to as “carcases,” were fitted with nickel-plated taps and hardware. The size of these washbasin cabinets varied depending on the size of the room and assigned occupancy. Some of the basins have been raised from Titanic’s wreck, and they bear the Doulton seal even after decades of lying on the ocean floor.

   In many of the smaller staterooms on Titanic where the conservation of space was a necessity, the fold-up washbasin cabinet commonly called a “compactom” was utilized. This was one of the few pieces of furniture specifically designed for use aboard ship, patterned after those used in railway cars
. . . (continued)


   Water closets - Titanic’s water closet basins were made of white-glazed fireclay, the glazing being completely free of lead, and able to withstand the action of acidic waste. The glaze used to create the shiny surface of sanitary products was very similar to the glaze used for tableware. The word “leadless” was usually seen somewhere on their surfaces, and for an interesting reason. Lead had been used in glaze for centuries and it is this lead which gave the glaze a bright attractive sheen. Unfortunately, lead is poisonous. In tableware, the lead in the glaze could be leached out into foodstuffs by the acids contained in food. Once the health effects became known, lead was banned from use in glazing tableware. This practice was copied by the sanitaryware manufacturers, but for the safety of those workers in the plants, not the users of the product. “Leadless,” however, was no doubt marked on the basins themselves to suggest that the product was somehow safer for the consumer . . . (continued)


George Field & Co. Campbell McCutcheon collection.

Image left. A page from the catalog of George Field & Co., which supplied many of the smaller “convenience” fittings for the Olympic-class liners. Campbell McCutcheon collection

Image far left. This image shows one of Olympic’s public bath rooms. The tub has no shower spray and is not supplied with hot and cold fresh water, as the public baths rooms were supplied only with salt water. The tall cylinder with the knob on top (to the left of the tub) is the drain release. The wood partition next to the tub identifies this particular bath room as being within a block of bath rooms rather than a stand-alone compartment. While stand-alone bath rooms were enclosed within steel bulkheads on all four sides, steel bulkheads formed the perimeter around a block of baths and stile-and-panel wooden bulkheads divided the adjacent baths within the block. Author’s collection


Other topics in this chapter include: Lavatory and washbasin fittings - Baths - Urinals

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

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