First Class Staterooms

C-82: Italian Renaissance Room

The First Class Staterooms on Olympic's 'B' and 'C' Decks were the focus of much of the public wonderment at her lavish interiors. In June 1911, just before her maiden voyage, the Shipbuilder devoted a whole section of its special number to the 'special' staterooms and the indulgent accomodation available to anyone wealthy and lucky enough to enjoy a First Class voyage.

The Stateroom that has the most known surviving artefacts today is the Italian Renaissance Room on Shelter Deck 'C'. It was one of the period staterooms illustrated for the Shipbuilder. It was renumbered C-82 from C-76 in the Olympic's post Titanic refit of 1912-13. 




In 1924, the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII sailed home on the Olympic after a two month tour of America. According to Mark Chirnside's seminal work, the Prince was first shown on boarding in New York a Regency Style Cabin to which he remarked "that's too pretty" and was shown C-82. Charmed by the cabin's satinwood interior with its elegant but unpompous feel, the Prince occupied this cabin and its Empire style neighbour all the way to Southampton.

When the Olympic met her end in 1935, there was press interest in the sale of the contents of the stateroom at Jarrow that November. The Times of London reported that the furniture from the cabins used by the Prince of Wales eleven years earlier had been sold for £48. The purchase of lot 1386 by Colonel Harry Hutton of the Marquis of Granby Hotel in Bamford, Derbyshire is the reason why all the items of C-82 bar the washstand are known to still exist.




N.B. 'C' Deck was re-lettered 'B' Deck in one of Olympic's later refits. 'A' Deck became the Prom Deck, 'B' Deck became 'A' Deck, 'C' Deck became 'B' Deck and so on.

The Dressing Table

The Dressing Table was utilised in one of the bedrooms at the Marquis of Granby Hotel for sixty-two years, from 1936 to 1998 when the then owner of the hotel decided to sell it and all the other purchases Colonel Hutton had made in the wake of the success of James Cameron's film. The Dressing Table was sold for £3000 to private collector and good friend of mine, Peter Mitchell, who regularly puts it on display at Titanic exhibitions. He fully restored it, replacing the missing drawer handles and repairing the many scratches it had suffered from its time at the hotel. The photos below depict before and after the sale of 1998.  


          
On the back of the Dressing Table are some markings denoting its origins in Belfast and Jarrow.

In heavy crayon is the original lot number from the 1935 dispersal auction in Jarrow: 1386.

Behind the lot number is markings applied during the fitting out process in Belfast in 1911. The writing reads: "BEDROOM H, SS 400, SHELTER DECK"; 400 being Olympic's yard number (Titanic's was 401) and Shelter Deck being
'C' Deck.



The Dressing Table has a number of features showing it comes from a ship.
To prevent things falling off in rough seas the table top has a raised metal surround and the drawers have ball bearings to hold them shut Note the intricate carving and inlaid patterns in the wood, designed to emulate the artistry of the Renaissance.




The Wardrobe

Another item of furniture that graced the bedroom of the Marquis of Granby was the wardrobe from C-82. It too was utilised by guests at the hotel for over six decades before being sold to Peter Mitchell in 1998, this time for £900. Like the dressing table, it is made of satinwood and was fully restored by its new owner.



The wardrobe is seen in the above photo along with the panelling from C-82.
You can see how the bottom of the wardrobe has been angled to match the sheet of Olympic's deck. It is also extensively marked as being from Cabin C-82. The inside panels of the doors would have originally held mirrors.




The Wardrobe is unique among surviving artefacts I've seen from the Olympic in having the original electric socket and switches from the stateroom. The top switch would have operated the fixed lighting in the cabin, the lower switch would have operated the electical socket below to which a bedside light would have been plugged.

       

The Chest of Drawers

The Chest of Drawers that also formed part of lot 1386 did not find its way to the Marquis of Granby Hotel.
It turned up in 2010 at the house clearing of a former director of Thomas Ward and was purchased by Jonathan Qualye of the Purser's Locker and later sold to a private collector in Sweden.





The Panelling

The 1935 dispersal auction was structured so that furniture was sold over the first eight days and the panelling and equipment at days nine and ten. The panelling to C-82 was offered for sale as lot 3746 but did not sell. It appears Colonel Hutton obtained the panelling by private arrangment after the auction. He installed the panelling in the same bedroom with the result that his hotel offered the closest experience possible to spending a night in a cabin of the Olympic or the Titanic.



The panelling was sold in the same sale as the wardrobe and dressing table, which ended the possibility of the experience. The panelling was replaced with wall paper. My friend the late Steve Rigby kindly supplied the photographs below taken during his stay in 1997.
 

            

The removal of the panelling revealed the markings applied in Belfast a century ago.
The room was referred to as the 'Birch Room' in the Harland & Wolff woodworking shop. Thanks to Sotheby's for the photos below.

           


The panelling was sold at the 1998 sale to an unknown buyer. Small sections of it have since been broken off from it and sold to collectors.


Postscript

The Marquis of Granby Hotel also housed artefacts from staterooms C-62 (Louise XIV Room), C-86 (Georgian Room) and C-80 (Empire Room). After the sale of all these historic artefacts between 1998 and 2000, the hotel eventually closed in October 2001. I cannot help but feel that if its then owner had instead
chosen to market her hotel on the strength of its connection to the Olympic and Titanic, it would still be here today: possibly with a waiting list of prospective guests wanting to experience the exuberant comforts of our sea-going Edwardian ancestors.


The Marquis of Granby Hotel in 2010




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