Titanic's Barber Shop

Aboard Titanic there were two barber shops, one for first class passengers and one for second class passengers. The services they provided were shaving, haircutting, and shampooing of hair. The barber shops also sold souvenirs and other essential and novelty items.

Reports amongst the legal proceedings after the disaster confirm that the cost of shaving, hair cutting or shampooing cost passengers 1 Shilling (5 pence in the decimal money used today, if in use back then) for each service. A 1910 booklet for first class passengers steaming aboard White Star liners state that the cost for each service is 1 Shilling or $0.25. Assuming the cost had stayed the same two years later, the price passengers paid in both the first and second class barber shops were the same. Going by secondary sources this does appear to be the case. The 1910 booklet also states the opening times of the first class barber shop aboard White Star Line ships as 7am to 7pm, but requested, ďfor the general convenience of the greater number,Ē that passengers not apply to have their hair cut or shampooed outside of the hours of 12pm to 5.30pm.

There were three people aboard Titanic who were employed as barbers onboard, Augustus Weikman, a 53-year-old born in Philadelphia, United States, Herbert Klein, an around 33-year-old born in Bradford, United Kingdom and Arthur White, a 37-year-old born in Portsmouth, United Kingdom. Augustus Weikman worked in the first class barber shop, Arthur White probably did too, while Herbert Klein worked in the second class barber shop. Augustus Weikman was unusual for someone working aboard a British ship at the time in that he was an American. Although they were technically signed on as crew, they were not really considered to be part of the shipís crew and were more providing self-employed services onboard. Within legal proceedings following the disaster in regard to the second-class barber it is made clear he was paid just 1 Shilling by White Star for the voyage, but did get to keep all tips and profits from the sale of all goods and services provided within the barber shop. Presumably the arrangements were the same for the first class barber shop. Augustus Weikman and Arthur White had both recently been serving aboard Titanicís near identical sister ship Olympic, while Herbert Klein had been working aboard another White Star Line ship, Teutonic.

The first class barber shop was located within the first class passenger accommodation on C Deck, immediately adjacent to the aft grand staircase. It was located on the port side of the ship, but was in the middle of the ship, so had no portholes. The second class barber shop, also containing no portholes, was located on E Deck, near to the main second class staircase, although separated from it by a bulkhead complete with a watertight door.

A photo of the barber shop taken aboard Olympic (found on p.62 of the book Titanic an Illustrated History), shows two traditional barbers chairs in front of a sink and mirrors and a work surface, with a seating area on the opposite side of the room. It is probably as you would expect an Edwardian barber shop to look like and perhaps does not look too different from some you may find today. One thing that is notable about the room is that it shown to be pretty full of what appear to be items for sale Ė dolls, teddy bears and the like, pipes, pens, watches, pocket books and an assortment of souvenirs and other items. If Titanicís barber shop looked the same, there was certainly a gift shop aboard!

An item known to have been bought from Titanicís first class barber shop and which survives to this day is a pin cushion (used to store sewing pins) within a mini lifebuoy with the name RMS Titanic on and having the British flag on one side and the American flag on the other. It was bought for his niece by Franics Brown, who returned to Ireland aboard Titanic and so only sailed between Southampton and Queenstown.

At the time Titanic collided with the iceberg at around 11.40pm on 14th April, 1912, Augustus Weikman was sat in the first class barber shop. He then went below decks to see what was going on and later assisted with the launching of the lifeboats. While assisting with the attempted launching of Lifeboat A which was by this time sat on the starboard side Boat Deck, Titanic plunged forward and he was washed into the sea where he swam towards and was washed towards by an explosion, a bundle of deck chairs on to which he managed to get himself on to and where he remained until after Titanic had gone down, before then managing to get to and in to Lifeboat A which had floated off the ship. He along with the other survivors aboard Lifeboat A were rescued by Lifeboat 14 in the morning and were safely taken aboard the Carpathia. Herbert Klein and Arthur White were lost in the sinking.

Related pages - Titanic Lookouts and Crow's Nest, All Titanic Pages

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