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Comfort at Sea

‘…the conditions of life upon a modern ocean going steamer, such as we have in the Britannia, the latest addition to the P&O fleet, have become almost too luxurious.’ Scarborough Gazette, 9th February 1888

P&O’s new steamers were designed with competition firmly in mind and a greater attention to space, speed and comfort. By the end of the decade, voyaging by sea had become much more agreeable.

The advent of on board refrigeration put paid to the days of old when passengers shared the meagre deck space that existed, with a ‘veritable farmyard’ of cows, sheep and poultry – dinner in the making. The new ships featured a ‘hurricane’ deck or upper deck from which ‘views’ or photographs could be taken, and then processed in the photographic studio down below.

‘Functioning’ bathrooms appeared for the first time and bunk beds were replaced in first class, with sturdy iron beds with sprung mattresses. Electric light lit up the saloon, folding washstands graced the cabins and the ‘novelty’ of a chest of drawers was a welcome addition.

Above all the Jubilee liners, designed for the India and Australia run, attracted the most comment. These giants of the fleet, built at a cost of £190,000 each, increased comfort to the level of luxury and narrowed the gap between First and Second Class.