The R.M.S. Empress of Ireland Community

After the disaster of the Empress of Ireland many article of better safety measures came out in various magazines and newspapers across the European and North American continents on how to prevent great loss of life at sea! This wasn’t a new concept, some of the ideas were somewhat lacking in sensibility while others almost seemed too simple and why hadn’t anyone thought of this before?

This article was published on June 27th, 1914 in the magazine called “The Sphere.” They wrote an article about the maze of passage ways inside a ship and how easily it could become a death trap for those aboard. The passengers aboard the Empress of Ireland had only been on the ship for nine hours before the disaster occurred. Most of them didn’t have time to familiarize themselves where the exit stairs were to take them up to the open decks above, especially when the lights went out and the ship listed towards starboard.

Diagram 1 shows a very small portion of the cabins in a transatlantic liner. But it also shows how many passageways that could cause passengers to go the wrong way in they were in darkness and end up in a cul-de-sac. Or worse if the ship is listing to one side like the Empress of Ireland having the passengers fall down the passageway

Death Maze Inside

Diagram 1

In diagram 1 there is approximately 50 berths and with the emergency accommodation also full this section would sleep over 100 people. But there are only two staircases. With passengers panicking in the darkness and trying to climb titling staircases it is obvious not many would survive, if any.

Diagram 2 shows a simple laminated sign that could be light by oil lamps showing where the exit was for the life boats.

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Photo Credit: The Sphere June 1914