Considered to be two of the most luxurious appointments on the ship, the two Grand Staircases were designed to be used only by first-class passengers. The fore Grand Staircase descended five levels down from the Boat Deck to the E Deck in the famous appearance and continues down to F-Deck as an ordinary stairway. The staircase featured large glass domes that allowed natural light to enter the space during the daytime, oak panelling and detailed carvings, paintings, bronze cherubs (which served as lamp supports on the middle railings), candelabra, and other details. The Fore staircase featured a clock surrounded by an intricate oak carving depicting "Honour and Glory crowning Time", while the Aft staircase featured a far less ornate clock. A 360-degree view of the fore staircase as it appeared back in 1912 can be seen on the Encyclopedia Titanica website.There are no reliable sources that describe what occurred on the fore Grand Staircase during the ship's sinking. Photographs taken by explorer Robert Ballard show that the steel infrastructure of the staircase is intact, and that the wood was likely eaten away by microbes. It stands on the wreck of the Titanic as a vast empty hole, within which submersibles and cameras can gain easy access to the ship's interiors. The steel structure and even some of the detail on the balustrades of the staircase can still be made out, and some of the light fittings are still exactly as they were in 1912.
There is an alternate theory as to what happened to the grand staircase that has growing support. During the filming of the 1997 film Titanic, a sinking set had been constructed with a wooden replica of the grand staircase. As they submerged the set during filming, the grand staircase broke away from the framework. Eyewitness reports from the sinking and analysis of the wreck support, but do not prove, that the grand staircase floated out as the ship sank. The wreck lacks sufficient debris at the bottom floor to account for the staircase disintegrating and in nearby rooms traces of wood are readily seen. Only locating the bronze fixtures would prove whether it disintegrated in place or floated out.The aft grand staircase was torn apart as the Titanic broke up shortly before sinking. Much of the wood and other debris found floating after the sinking is thought to have come from the aft staircase. During the 1987 exploration on the Titanic wreck, what was left of the aft grand staircase bronze cherub lamp (the lamp part its self had broken out of the statues hands) was found near the ruins where the aft grand staircase was on the wreck of the stern and is on display at a Titanic museum in the eastern United states.
Style and architectureEditThe decoration of the staircase was a curious combination of styles. The paneling and woodwork were made by master craftsmen in the English William and Mary style. The iron banister grillwork and ormolu garlands were added and they were inspired by the French court of Louis XIV.
Typically during those times, a bronze cherub held aloft a lamp to light the landings of the staircase. Many years earlier, lamp stands had been placed at the foot of staircases for safety. However, with dozens of gilded crystal chandeliers lighting Titanic's entrance hallways and staircases, the cherubs on Titanic were ornamental.
The Grand Staircases in popular cultureEdit
Many movies have been made about the sinking of Titanic. Almost all have depicted the grand staircase. In the 1943 film, the grand staircase landing is shown as a metaphor for the avarice.
Jean Negulesco's 1953 film has a number of scenes set on the Grand Staircase. The scenes are not accurate.
The staircase was a focal point in the 1997 film as well. The fore grand staircase was accurately built although the model that was used was larger than the actual staircase. On the 2005 DVD Special Features, Production Designer Peter Lamont revealed that the staircase used for the film was built much grander than its real-life counterpart; the film's staircase was constructed eighteen inches wider on both sides. A close observer will also note that the main body of the original Grand Staircase, where the center banister is, possessed twelve steps including the step landing below the clock. The film's replica had thirteen steps. The DVD features also reveal that Titanic historian Ken Marschall noted that men and women are built more robustly in present day. Two people in the Edwardian age would have had difficulty comfortably walking beside one another on one side of the banister because the space was simply not wide enough. The film's replica was constructed wider so pedestrian traffic walked with ease up and down the staircase on both sides of the banister complimenting the social atmosphere of Edwardian maritime etiquette.In the film, the staircase is submerged, and the glass dome is destroyed. The film does not show that the wooden hand rails were torn apart by the water.
The staircases are also depicted in the video game Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. The Fore Grand Staircase is depicted correctly for the most part, aside from some inaccuracies in the D and E deck landings, but in the Aft Grand Staircase there is no clock present on the A-Deck landing.
There are also several Titanic museums that have detailed replicas of the grand staircase. The most popular one is featured at the Titanic museum in Branson, Missouri. It was built using the ship's original deck plans. There is only one difference from the original staircase. It has brass hand rails below the original handrails used for safety.
The main staircase of the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, England has banisters from the Olympic's Grand Staircase, which is presumed to have been identical to the Titanics. The hotel's dining room is lined with the panelling from the first class lounge and the short section of stairs leading to the Dining Room. It also has railings from Olympics grand staircase.