Thursday, April 12, 2012

Titanic Centenary: April 12, 1912

April 12, 1912
The next two days on Titanic were relatively uneventful. The ship was at open sea, with nothing but water for miles in all directions. Passengers would spend their days wandering the decks when the weather was warm enough, chatting or reading in the lounges or libraries, playing cards, and for the first class, checking out the amenities available. There was the Turkish bath, swimming pool, squash court and gymnasium, all with special hours for men and women separately (no co-ed swimming, it would seem). The gym even had a special children-only opening each afternoon. Not all of these rooms were free, but the first class could afford an extra dollar or two for the added luxuries. The swimming pool was salt water, filled once Titanic was out to sea, and was heated. It was one of the first ships to have a swimming pool (or swimming bath) on board.
In the other classes, passengers had fewer options. Second class had a smoking room for the men and library for everyone. The third class merely had a general room for everyone and a smoking room with a bar for the men. And all classes had designated deck space where they could walk, get some fresh air, or lounge in deck chairs with their friends and family. On cooler days, first and second class had enclosed promenade spaces.
Many passengers looked forward each day to the posting of the previous day's run. Around noon, the mileage would be tacked up in the smoking rooms, and it's likely some of the men bet on the next day's numbers. From Thursday to Friday (April 11-12), she traveled 386 miles. (Thursday's travel was shorter due to the stop in Ireland.) Friday to Saturday: 519 miles. And Saturday to Sunday: 546 miles.
One thing of note did occur on the 12th, however, that would affect the rest of the ship's voyage. Around 11pm, the wireless broke down, and while the wireless operators, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, were able to fix it early the following morning, the brief outage caused a pretty serious backlog of messages to be sent. Because they allowed passengers to send messages through the wireless (for a fee, of course), the operators were kept busy. Wireless was still a novelty, and those who could afford it couldn't seem to resist sending a message back home from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The next few days, Phillips and Bride would be working at a fever pitch to catch up on the messages waiting to be sent, and would not have time to get all the ice warnings to the bridge, often giving precedence to the passenger communications over the ice notices. They were employed by the Marconi company, not the White Star Line, so those passenger messages were a big part of their business. (Not to say they ignored ice warnings. Anything coded to be given to the captain was immediately sent up, but not all incoming messages about ice were coded as such, and therefore were not always considered urgent by the busy wireless operators.)
*A note about the photos. The image of the swimming pool is most likely the pool on Olympic, as there are no known photos of Titanic’s swimming bath (outside of one that doesn’t show much). Many areas of Olympics were nearly identical to Titanic, as they were sister ships and built from similar blueprints. The second photo was taken by Francis Browne, a first class passenger who was sailing to Ireland. He took many photos on board Titanic, and for some areas of the ship, his are the only photographs that exist today. The wireless room is one of those areas. So while it's not the best image (it's a double exposure), it's all we have. The wireless operator working in the photo is most likely Harold Bride. He would survive the sinking, while Jack Phillips would not. Despite serious frostbite on one foot and a sprain in the other, Bride worked hard with the Carpathia's wireless operator to get messages out from the survivors as they traveled to New York.

Don’t forget the Destined Blog Tour going on this week. Today's stop: We Fancy Books


Post a Comment