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SS Adriatic White Star Line memorabilia at Abbey Books in Paisley

on 10 December 2023 0

Brian Hannan of Abbey Books talks about a rare piece of memorabilia from the White Star Line’s SS Adriatic

Every now and then something fascinating falls out of a book or is lodged at the bottom of a box that finds its way into our secondhand bookshop. This time round it’s a brochure for a liner crossing in 1927, a rare piece of memorabilia.

If you were lucky enough to land a trip on a liner across the Atlantic in 1927 you would receive a specially-printed brochure. This one covered a trip by the SS Adriatic – part of the White Star Line (the company that had built theTitanic) – from New York to Liverpool (via Cobh in Ireland) leaving America on Saturday August 6, 1927. Captaining the twin-screw 24,541-ton ship was Lt. Commander V. W. Hickson (Royal Navy Reserve, retired).

There were relatively few passengers on the SS Adriatic. A total of 78 passengers travelled first class and 73 second class. There is no mention of steerage (third class) or at least their names were not worthy of being listed in the brochure. There were three other liners in the White Star Line of similar standing – the RMS Majestic – at 56,551 tons the largest ship in the world – the RMS Olympic at 46,439 tons and the RMS Homeric at 34,356 tons. From August to December these ships covered the Transatlantic run. In addition, there were another 27 vessels and the combined tonnage for all the ships came to 474,163 tons.

As well as listing all the well-to-do passengers, the 36-page staple-bound booklet, printed on thick paper, contained all the information, rules and regulations necessary for a voyage. There was no smoking in the Dining Saloon, for example. Deck chairs and rugs could be hired for six shillings and sixpence (one dollar fifty cents) for the entire voyage. The ship’s surgeon was available for consultation at 10am, 6pm and 8.30pm, but charged for treating passengers for any illness not originating on the ship. Dogs taken on board required a British license.

Fraternising between passengers travelling in different classes was forbidden (as would have been the case, except for the fictional purposes of the movie, on the Titanic.) The reason given was in case “complications might arise under the Quarantine Regulation.”

Passengers were warned that British Customs were particularly stringent when it came to taking items such as silk into the country. “Passengers are asked to be frank and open in their declarations.” Bringing cameras into Britain was subject to a 50 per cent levy on the value, but that was treated as a deposit and the monies returned when a passenger departed. Presumably, these actions were intended to thwart the illicit importation of silks and cameras.

SS Adriatic

©Brian Hannan, Abbey Books

The Adriatic was equipped with Turkish Baths, costing five shillings and sixpence ($1.25) per session and men and women attending separately, Plunge Baths (free, costumes also provided gratis) and a Gymnasium (children restricted to 12-2pm). First class passengers were permitted greater laxity for breakfast, able to come down any time between 8.30am and 10am, but second class passengers had to be seated by 8am. Lunch for either class was served at 1pm and Dinner at 7pm.

Visiting the Barber (the term Hairdresser was not applied) cost more for first class passengers than second. A haircut for a man travelling first class cost one shilling and six pence (40 cents) while a shave was one shilling (25 cents). In second class it was one shilling for a haircut and nine pence for a shave. A female shampoo in first class would set you back four shillings (one dollar) while waving and dressing cost six shillings (one dollar 50 cents). Prices for female treatments in second class were not specified.

SS Adriatic

©Brian Hannan, Abbey Books

While, judging from the passengers lists, there were a number of married couples, perhaps surprisingly a fair number of married women travelled alone, perhaps meeting up with their spouses, perhaps widows. In first class Judge Elbert B. Hamlin was travelling with his wife, son and daughter. Miss Josephine Rahrer, Miss Ada Rehfeldt, Miss Ailien Stanley and Miss Alice Wild were alone in first class; maybe they were traveling companions a la Rebecca. In second class James Connolly was en famille, wife and three children in tow. Alexander Gregg out-did him, a total of eight in his party.

A chunk of the brochure is taken up with advertising other routes and ships. The Panama Pacific Line ran from New York to San Francisco via the Panama Canal. Services also went from Liverpool to Montreal and from Glasgow to Canada. The destination for another route from Liverpool was Australia by way of Cape Town. There were winter cruises in the West Indies, Mediterranean and Egypt. The SS Belgenland (with capacity for first, second and third class passengers) was about to embark on its fourth world cruise leaving New York on December 14, now in addition stopping off at Athens, Formosa and Hong Kong.

A marvellous insight into a long-lost world.

If you’d like to find out more about the SS Adriatic brochure, visit Abbey Books in Paisley

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