From the Floor Up

Titanic Remembrance Day

Posted by Daltile Team on Apr 15, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Floor and Wall Tile aboard the Titanic

Titanic Remembrance Day is April 15th and we thought we’d pay tribute to the fallen queen of the ocean by showing you the tile used on board.

As the luxury liner of its day, Harland & Wolff spent £1.5 million ($7.5 million) constructing the ship for the White Star Line. Its grandeur was short-lived but it remains a jewel among ocean vessels to this day.

Here’s a peek at the tile aboard the RMS Titanic.

The RMS Olympic’s  smoke room which was very similar to Titanic’s.  Photographed by John Welch (1859–1936), the official photographer of Harland & Wolff.

The First Class Smoking Room

The floor of the gentlemen’s smoking room in the first class area is legendary. The tiles were manufactured for three ships built by Harland & Wolff for the White Star Line and leftovers were used in their executive offices.

Tours were conducted through the offices until the 1970s when they were torn down. It wasn’t unusual for visitors to pull up a tile as a souvenir. Before the building was demolished, a few tiles were reserved for auction later. Today you can still find these tiles at auction going for $3,000–$5,000.

The green and gold tiles in the offices matched the pictures of the smoking room floor on the Titanic but when the first dives to the shipwreck were made in the 1980s and 1990s the tiles on the Titanic turned out to be red and blue.

The floral pattern alternated red on a blue background and blue on a red background throughout the large and richly decorated room.

The Verandah Café on the RMS Olympic, which was similar to Titanic’s.

The Veranda and Palm Courts

The Veranda and Palm courts were cafes located on deck A on either side of the ship. The port-side cafe connected to the smoking room through a vast revolving door. The other became more of a play place for the first-class children.

Both rooms were decorated in a Mediterranean style with floor to ceiling arched windows that looked out on the promenade. Both had sliding doors allowing entrance to the aft promenade.

The attitude in the cafes was lighter than other areas on the ship due to the wicker furniture, ivy trellised walls, and playful tiled floor.

The white and umber-orange floor tiles were arranged in a checkered pattern.

The Turkish Baths

On the F deck, behind the main foyer, a Middle Eastern style bath welcomed guests to relax after their sauna. It was the last in a series of rooms that first-class passengers could enjoy for a dollar. The series of rooms included a steam room, hot room, temperate room, shampooing room, toilets, and at the end, the cooling room.

The seventeenth-century Arabian design cooling room included a dark blue and green color scheme, lavish sofas, and a drinking fountain. The moody atmosphere was enhanced by the bronze lamps which were the only light except for four portholes.

The walls of the bath were tiled with an intricate pattern in deep blue and green in the style of ancient mosaics.

The Grand Staircase of the RMS Olympic, which was very similar to the Titanic’s.

The Grand Staircase

Harland & Wolff planned to pave the staircase with luxurious white marble. At the last minute plans changed because of the introduction of a new, high-end flooring material. This new material was an immediate hit and, of course, the Titanic had to have the latest and greatest.

It is said that numerous passengers stooped to touch this new marvel the first time they descended the staircase. What was it? Linoleum.

The majority of the flooring on the RMS Titanic was linoleum. That left only three rooms with the originally planned tile. Wood was used as decking in a few locations. But most floors featured this new material that lost popularity only four decades later.

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