Titanic's Grand Staircase


One of the most iconic features of Titanic, perhaps well known to many partly due its impressive reconstruction and prominent featuring in the 1997 Titanic film and for the impressive photos which exist showing her near identical sister ship Olympic’s own – is the forward grand staircase, probably the most notable feature of the ship’s interior, which likely did not fail to impress those who observed it. Although, a generally not massively known fact is that Titanic actually had two first class grand staircases, one located at the forward end of the ship – the one we all know very well, and another staircase located at the aft end of the ship. The aft grand staircase extended from A Deck down to C Deck, while the forward grand staircase extended all the way from the Boat Deck all the way down to F Deck.

Entering the well-lit Boat Deck reception area or landing which sat between the port and starboard side of the deck containing the lifeboats, serving the forward grand staircase, which was located between the first and second of Titanic’s funnels, nearer to the second funnel, passengers would have found themselves surrounded by oak paneling with the staircase with a dome in the center with the staircase and a void to the deck bellow surrounded on the Boat Deck by oak columns and balustrades with iron and finishing touches in bronze.

From the Boat Deck landing, passengers would be able to look over the balustrade and down to A Deck and up at the impressive chandelier crowning the glass and wrought iron dome above the staircase, with, in the day, natural light streaming down from it, and at night with it lit up by electric lights. From this landing passengers could make their way down to one of two short flights of stairs on either side, turn and join the main part of stairs down to A Deck, crowned at the top by a panel in the center with two female figures, known as Honour and Glory crowning time, complete with a clock. Fans of the 1997 Titanic film may know this clock well. At the center bottom of the stairs to A Deck where the hand rail ended, stood a bronze cherub holding a torch which was lit up by electric light.

Once on the A Deck landing passengers could access cabins, the A Deck promenade deck, the first-class lounge, the reading and writing room, or continue down to B Deck.

The B Deck landing is where first class passengers boarding at Southampton may have first entered the ship, with the entrance halls containing the B Deck gangway doors being located just off the B Deck landing. Many cabins were located on B deck and so passengers would have used the B Deck landing to walk onwards to their cabins.

On the C deck landing, along with access to the various nearby cabins, the purser’s office and also the enquiry office could be found in which passengers could seek information, send post and wireless messages, hire deck chairs and book tickets to use the squash court, Turkish baths or the swimming pool.

As passengers walked down the stairs to D Deck, they would have noticed the impressive candelabra at the base of the stairs with 21 ‘candles’ with electric lights. They may very well have noticed the tapestry hanging on the wall directly in front the stairs. Landing on D Deck passengers would find themselves within the Jacobean style white paneled first-class Reception room, leading to the dining room. It is easy to imagine this area to be important socially for the passengers.

Perhaps its most important purpose complete by this point, the staircase was narrower on its way to E Deck, where for first class, just cabins were provided and only on the starboard side. It is often considered the grand staircase come to an end at this point, however, although simpler, a narrow staircase did continue on down to F deck where passengers could access the Turkish baths and the swimming pool.

Walking up and down the forward grand staircase could probably be a long trek – passengers did have the luxury alternative option of using the nearby elevators which ran from the Boat Deck down to E Deck.

Perhaps not quite as impressive as the forward grand staircase, but still almost equally so, the aft staircase, situated between Titanic’s third and fourth funnel, started on A Deck and extended down to C Deck. When standing on B Deck looking up at the aft staircase it would have appeared almost identical to standing in the same place in front of the forward staircase on A Deck, apart from the paneling in the center surrounding the clock was noticeably simpler. Like the forward staircase it had a glass and wrought iron dome above it, identical to the forward dome.

The A Deck landing of the aft staircase was ideally situated to give access to both the first-class lounge and the smoking room, as well as the promenade deck. From the B deck landing passengers could go to the Café Parisien and the À la Carte Restaurant which the B Deck landing would have acted as the reception area for. C Deck, where the aft grand staircase ended mostly contained cabins, although two open corridors linked the forward and aft ends of the deck together, the same was so on B Deck, however these had doors located on either end. The dining room for servants of first class passengers was also located right by the staircase, on the starboard side, while the Barbour's shop was located in the same place on the port side.

On the wreck today, considered the passage of time, where it is and what happened to it, some areas around the forward staircase have a relatively good level of preservation, however, along with the dome, the staircase itself is long gone leaving just a big hole where it used to be. It is thought the staircase must have floated out of the ship during the sinking. The aft staircase must have been destroyed during the sinking.



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

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