Grand staircase

The Grand Staircase of the Olympic: Similar to the Titanic's first class section.

The phrase Grand Staircase of the RMS Titanic has been used to refer to the first-class entrance aboard the Titanic which contained a large ornate staircase located in the first-class section of the White Star Line liner. The area of the staircase is often used by submersibles as an entry point into the sunken wreck as it is now a large empty opening, which provides easy access to the ship's interior.

Considered to be two of the most luxurious appointments on the ship, the two grand staircases were designed to be used only by first-class passengers. The fore Grand Staircase descended five levels down from the Boat Deck to the E Deck with grand appearance and continues down to F-Deck as an ordinary stairway.[1] The staircase featured large glass domes that allowed natural light to enter the space during the daytime, oak panelling and detailed carvings, paintings, bronze cherubs (which served as lamp supports on the middle railings), candelabra, and other details. The fore staircase featured a clock surrounded by an intricate oak carving depicting "Honour and Glory crowning Time", while the Aft staircase featured a far less ornate clock. A 360-degree view of the fore staircase as it appeared back in 1912 can be seen on the Encyclopedia Titanica website.[2]

There are no reliable sources that describe what occurred on the fore grand staircase during the ship's sinking. Photographs taken by explorer Robert Ballard show that the steel infrastructure of the staircase is intact. The wood was likely eaten away by microbes.[3] It stands on the wreck of the Titanic as a vast empty hole, within which submersibles and cameras can gain easy access to the ship's interiors. The steel structure and even some of the detail on the balustrades of the staircase can still be made out, and some of the light fittings are still exactly as they were in 1912.[3]

The aft grand staircase was torn apart as the Titanic broke up shortly before sinking. Much of the wood and other debris found floating after the sinking is thought to have come from the aft staircase. Part of a cherub lamp fitting from the aft grand staircase has been recovered and is on display at a Titanic museum in the eastern United States.

Style and architectureEdit

The decoration of the staircase was a curious combination of styles. The panelling and woodwork were made by master craftsmen in the English William and Mary style. The iron banister grillwork and ormolu garlands were inspired by the French court of Louis XIV.

Typically during those times, a bronze cherub held aloft a lamp to light the landings of the staircase. Many years earlier, lampstands had been placed at the foot of staircases for safety. However, with dozens of gilded crystal chandeliers lighting Titanic's entrance hallways and staircases, the cherubs on Titanic were ornamental.

The Grand Staircase in popular cultureEdit

Many movies have been made about the sinking of Titanic. Almost all have depicted the grand staircase. In the 1943 film, the grand staircase landing is shown as a metaphor for the avarice of the British and American upper classes.

Jean Negulesco's 1953 film has a number of scenes set on the Grand Staircase.

The staircase was a focal point in the 1997 film as well. The fore grand staircase was accurately built, although the model that was used was larger than the actual staircase.

The main body of the original grand staircase possessed twelve steps including the step landing below the clock. The film's replica had thirteen steps. In the film, the staircase is submerged, and the glass dome is destroyed. The film does not show that the wooden hand rails were torn apart by the water.

The staircases are also depicted in the video game Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. The fore grand staircase is depicted correctly for the most part, aside from some inaccuracies in the D and E deck landings, but in the aft grand staircase there is no clock present on the A-Deck landing.

There are also several Titanic museums that have detailed replicas of the grand staircase. The one featured at the Titanic museum in Branson, Missouri was built using the ship's original deck plans but there is one difference from the original; it has brass hand rails below the original handrails used for safety. The one at Titanic Belfast was again forced to make subtle changes to accommodate current regulations.[4]

The main staircase of the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, England has banisters from the Olympic's Grand Staircase, which is presumed to have been identical to the Titanic's. The hotel's dining room is lined with the panelling from the first class lounge and the short section of stairs leading to the Dining Room. It also has railings from Olympic's grand staircase.[5]

The clock panel depicting "Honour and Glory Crowning Time" from Olympic's grand staircase is on display at Southampton's SeaCity Museum.[6][7]


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