Monday, February 25, 2013

Going steerage

A weekend away at a smart hotel near Bristol and a visit to the SS Great Britain. This ship, the first modern passenger liner, and one of the first to be built of iron and to be powered by steam and propeller, showed the world what the industrial age was all about. But the most eye-opening part was to see the incredibly cramped and basic conditions in which most of its passengers - the steerage class - travelled.  Here is a picture of a 4-berth compartment.

There was no other sheltered space provided - no lounges, no bathrooms, absolutely nowhere for privacy or peace and quiet. The passengers could always go up on deck of course - provided they stayed the right side of the white line painted on the deck that divided the ship in half. Only first class passengers could walk in the rear half. And people travelled this way across the Atlantic and even to Australia. Certainly puts our day to day commuting problems into the shade.

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