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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Exploring 'Lucy'

Tuesday, October 10th., Lusitania, at sea.

Conversational phrases, etc.
2 Stewards in corridor 8.5 a.m.
1. One coffee with milk in 87. I couldn't take it in because he hadn't gone into his bath. Take it in will you as soon as he has gone into his bath. He hadn't gone into his bath.
2. One coffe with milk in 87?
1. That's it.


Visiting ship with Chief Officer.
Chart Room. "Holy of holies" Brass and mahogany effect. Dodge for detecting and putting out fires in inaccessible holes. fan to draw out smoke and steam attachment to drown it. All same pipes. 4 or 500 feet of piping at least.
Sounding tubes? Wire draws out water from a tube. Even the wire so drawn in by an electric motor. It can be done at full speed.

Bridge. 75 ft. above the sea. The house was carried away and wheel carried away once by a wave - one wave. One dent, made by glass, left in wood, to commemorate the day.
Subterranean signalling. A bell sounds through it like tapping a pencil on wood. Nantucket bell heard 16 miles off

Down below, forward of steerage, capstan gear. The cables will each break only at 265 tons. That is, they could hold in suspension 26 10-ton trucks of coal. The capstan gear is so strong that it will break the cable if it is overwound.
Imagine 265 tons of M.P.'s dropped into the sea.
Well may all this powerful machinery be encaged, just like wild beasts in a menagerie.
7 different steering gears. The last by hand wheel almost direct. Auxiliary engines, etc. We went down two or three stories from lowest passenger deck and saw the tremendous gear actually at work slowly and apparently capriciously moving to and fro at intervals in obedience to sailor on bridge 5 or 600 feet away and 70 foot higher up.

Up and down steel ladders. Climbing over moving chain (like a bike chain) of steering gear, through stray jets of steam, in a forest of greasy machinery, guarded by steel rails, grease on floor: all apparently working alone under electric lights, but here and there a man in brown doing nothing in particular. Dials everywhere showing pressures, etc.
Up a flight to dynamo room. 
Machines revolving 1,200 to the minute.

Then to stokehold. Vast. Terrible. 190 colossal furnaces, opened and fed every 10 minutes, and coal flung in. Mouths of furnaces seemed to me to be very high for coal to be flung into them. This effect was like that of a coal-mine with the addition of hell.
This was the most impressive part of the ship. It stretched away with occasional electric lights into infinite distance. 1,000 tons of coal a day. Finest coal. very hot. An inferno, theatrical. Above, confectioners making petits fours, and the lifts going for 1st class passengers.

Invited into the Captain's room. He showed us his photograph after being invested C.B. by King.
The Englishman's reverence for his old institutions, of all kinds, and his secret sentimentality comes out all over the ship the whole time.

Marvellous after-sunset exactly ahead, as we came out. Sea like slightly uneasy oil.

The trip from England to the US (and vice versa) required no less than 6,000 tons of coal (1,000 tons a day!). The coal required 22 coal trains of 30 trucks each, each truck weighing approximately 10 tons each, to reach the dock. Once there was loaded into the bunkers via hatches on the hull. It was a dirty process that covered nearly everything on deck and in many cases below decks with coal dust that had to be wiped, washed or hosed off before passengers boarded. Her massive steam turbines required 65,000 gallons of water per minute for cooling purposes. The crew of nearly 900 saw to the operations of the ship, from actually navigating the vessel from the bridge, shovelling coal into the furnaces that pressurized the boilers or tending to individual passengers' needs and tasks. The sailing department; seamen, officers and such numbered around 70. There were 390 engineers, more than nearly 400 stewards, 50 cooks and an assortment of others such as band members, telegraph operators, lift attendants, printers, etc. From the Captain himself to the lowest of bell hops, the ship was home. So it was for nearly 8 years. Lusitania enjoyed popularity and prosperity. Comfort was assured by the ship's own luxury and the crew's dedication to the passengers. Safety was always assumed, though perhaps questioned after the 1912 sinking of White Star Line's Titanic in a tragedy that shook the shipping industry at its foundation by exposing the severely lacking safety standards that governed British shipping on the whole.

Dr. Hutchinson introduced himself to me in smoke-room, as being a great admirer. he began to talk about his biological researches and travels and theories, and kept on - very interesting and never referred to my work at all.  

he said that the progress of sanitation in Naples (where up to a few years ago there were no privies at all) was very much hindered by the fact that a company paid the corporation 300,000 frs. a year for the right to remove human excrement. Another company paid 100,000 for right to remove dog excrement. (Same thing in Constantinople, Aleppo, etc.) Dog excrement sent to U.S.A. for preparing of kid gloves, etc. Nothing like it for that.

Additionally for October 10th., see 'H.G.'s boom is over' -

Wells came in, and slanged the Webbs as usual, and incidentally said: "My boom is over. I've had my boom. I'm yesterday."


  1. I always presumed Bennett traveled in First Class on the Lusitania. "Your United States" begins with his asking for a particular kind of rusk and his waiter appearing out of the distance bearing it. Surely that would have to be First Class. And a dinner party he was giving was marked on the wall of a Dining Saloon steward's office. One didn't give dinner parties in Second Class. So, is there confirmation of wh. class Bennett traveled in? He mentions descending to his stateroom and watching as a big wave hit and overtook the hull, and getting into his berth and closing the curtains. I'm confused!!!

  2. Your presumption is correct. AB was travelling first class on the Lusitania. He says so in a journal entry dated 09/10/1911. Also the series of letters he wrote to his wife during the voyage make it clear that not only was he in first class but he received special attention as a celebrity.