RMS MAJESTIC: AN INTERIOR GLIMPSE

Majestic’s career as a passenger liner lasted a mere fourteen years, yet during that time she was always one of the most popular liners afloat - and sometimes the most popular. In 1923, her first full year of service, she carried more first class passengers than any other liner and this was due in no small part to the impressive first class accommodation. It is worth taking a short look at the magnificence in the heart of a ship that has long since ceased to exist.

Shortly after she entered service in 1922, the White Star Line described Majestic’s first class dining saloon:

‘Height, airiness, freshness; ample room for superior service, with many small tables; tall windows hung in rose silk, lending its color [sic] warmth to gleaming crystal and silver, snowy napery and white walls - these are features of Majestic’s splendid first cabin dining saloon. Outstanding is its lofty central part - with the highest ceiling in a ship - its frescoed dome springing from slim Ionic pillars. The room seats 654 persons and occupies parts of E and F decks.’

Oddly enough, the seating capacity was lower than the 678 seats given in other brochures, although it did come closer to the figure of ‘650 Sitzplatze’ (seats) noted for the first class Speisesaal (dining room) in a German blueprint produced by Blohm & Vosss in October 1921. Perhaps some additional seating capacity was included at a later date, as first class passengers flocked to the ship.

In January 1936, John Havers toured Majestic. He examined the first class dining saloon - by then, the ship’s deck designation letters had been altered, and F-deck had changed to D-deck (RMS Majestic: The ‘Magic Stick’ pages 80-81):

‘The dining saloon on D-deck seated 678 people. Soaring columns went right round the room, supporting a beautifully decorated dome. With reddish furniture and table lights, cream columns, green railings between the columns on the deck above, where the orchestra played, made this one of the finest rooms I have seen afloat. Perhaps surpassed by the sheer grandeur of the Normandie but much more dignified...’

Even as she neared the end of her career, she retained her essential character and beauty.

rms majestic first class dining saloon Left: Majestic’s first class dining saloon can be seen here in glorious colour, in an illustration from a White Star Line brochure that was issued in the late 1920s. The colour scheme remained the same until the end of her career as a passenger liner, as John Havers’ recollections confirm. (Author’s Collection.)
Right: A White Star Line chair that is believed to have come from Majestic’s first class dining saloon. It is seen here onboard Nomadic in 2007. During the years since 1936, it seems highly likely that it has been re-covered. Certainly, in comparison with the colour scheme for the chairs shown in the illustration above, the blue leather covering is different. However, the chair itself seems to match perfectly; from the shape of the base to the rounded top of the back rest. There seems no reason to doubt that it came from Majestic, and based on photographic evidence the first class dining saloon seems the most likely public room on the ship. (Courtesy F. James, of the Nomadic Preservation Society; chairs belong to David Scott Beddard and John White, White Star Memories Collection.) rms majestic saloon chair
rms majestic saloon chairs Left, and below: The chair is actually one of two, both with the same blue leather covering. They are in very good condition. Once again, they are seen here as part of an extensive exhibition onboard Nomadic. (Courtesy F. James, of the Nomadic Preservation Society; chairs belong to David Scott Beddard and John White, White Star Memories Collection.)
rms majestic saloon chairs onboard nomadic

 

rms majestic first class dining saloon plan 1933

Above: Majestic’s first class dining saloon accommodated no fewer than 678 first class passengers at a single sitting. Its layout is seen here in a 1933 deckplan. The split funnel uptakes not only created space amidships, as passengers entered the saloon from the first class entrance at the forward end, but their placement ensured additional privacy for passengers dining to the port and starboard sides of the main entrance. (Author’s Collection.)

 

majestic chair

Left: This lovely chair originally came from Majestic’s á la carte restaurant. (Courtesy Brian Hawley.)

Right: Seen from another angle, this colour illustration from a period brochure shows the chair’s original colour scheme. (Author’s Collection.)

rms majestic chair

 

rms majestic a la carte restaurant

Above: The elegant á la carte restaurant proved popular with first class passengers, and its appearance was distinct from that of the main dining saloon. The chairs were very different, too. Following cutbacks as the depression worsened in the early 1930s, after the Cunard White Star merger the restaurant was closed in October 1934. Although the first class dining saloon menu was improved at that time, the catering could not match the choice passengers had in Majestic’s heydey. In February 1935, items from the restaurant galley’s equipment were considered surplus to requirements and removed (see RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister, page 261). (Author’s Collection.)


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