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R101 Ship Plans

1924 Impression of lounge

1926 Upper deck plans_(version 1)

1926 Upper deck plans_(version 2)

Interiors R 101

The R101 interior is one of the most magnificent collection of rooms ever constructed in an airship.

The R101 and R100 dispensed with existing designs and both ships designers added new passenger accommodation within the body of the airship. All previous commercial passenger ships had extended the lower command gondola with the accommodation behind the main cabin.
In 1926, the original design of the R101 showed a ship with seven engine cars and a long external passenger accommodation behind the command gondola, very similar to the configuration of the R36. However, to include accommodation for the proposed 100 passengers, the design was altered.

It was decided to adopt a two deck approach to the ship. The upper would contain the main passenger accommodation, public spaces, lounge, dining room and promenades. The lower deck would contain the smoking room and washrooms and the crew's quarters. There were many design changes to the R101's interior; some of the original drawings show a three deck ship, with the promenade decks on the upper level.



The colour scheme was white panels with gold inlay. The curtains on to the promenade deck were of fine Cambridge blue. The seating arrangements were of small tables, and the chairs were constructed of upholstered cane wicker. At each side of the left hand side of the lounge were writing desks running alongside the wall. The ship had provided R101 headed stationery. On the walls were paintings, however we have not been able to ascertain what they depicted at the present time.

Another close up shot of the lounge showing the entrance to the promenade deck. Three steps led up to the deck. The curtains would be drawn closed at night in order to give those on the Promenade Deck a better view of the ground without light pollution from the lounge. The cushions on the side chairs were inflated with air to save weight.

We've created this video to give a tour of the interior spaces in the R.101


The Dinning Room

The dining room was able to seat 50 people in one sitting. A dumb waiter hoisted the food up from the galley below to the dining room. There was also a wireless set fitted in the wall to provide music to diners whilst they ate.
The Promenade Decks

The promenade decks had deck chairs and a safety rail with a foot rest. The design followed very traditional nautical designs and almost felt as if passengers were on the deck of a ship. Deck chairs were provided as seen here.

The promenade decks were on both sides of the lounge, and also ran along the side of the dining room. Even though early designs suggested that they would both be interlinked, there was no door between each section of the promenade decks.

The original windows were made of glass but were removed and replaced by light weight cellon safety glass.

A second set of windows and promenade ran along the corridor on the starboard side of the passenger accommodation near the sleeping quarters.

Seen here on the left are both the port, and very rare starboard side promenades. The starboard side promenade can be seen, with the two gentlement leaning on the railing. This promenade was opposite to the port side of the ship where the dining room was, and also had simliar window / railing layout.

These windows were removed in September 1930 as part of the weight saving programme. Few photographs of the ship exist with the second set of windows removed.

The Corridors

One of the two corridors leading from the lounge. The set of steps seen here lead over a main ring girder. In the distance is the staircase to the lower deck. To the right would have been the main washrooms for passengers.

The walls were made of fine 2mm thick spruce cladding on main pillars and stretched doped double thickness white painted cloth on the wall spaces. The lines on the pillar inlays were painted gold, as were the edges to the cloth panels. To the left of the photo you can make out the writing desk attached to the wall.

Seen here is the main corridor to the sleeping cabins, with the view out towards the starboard promenade deck as seen above.

The sleeping arrangements were in the form of bunks. Even though they may seem spartan, the cabins were warmed by a heating vent driven from the main radiator which could be heated or cooled by being lowered out of the ship.

Each cabin had a main "porthole" electric light, fitted to the wall with a small blind which could be drawn over it. This continued the nautical influence. A small reading light was also provided above each bunk.

A small luggage stool would be provided for cabin bags and a small rug would be on the floor. Each cabin had a notice regarding the protocols of airship life, including details for summoning a steward.

Some 50 cabins were constructed in formations of single, twin and four berth arrangements.

A very rare shot of a two berth passenger cabin.

Washroom facilities were available close by. These had aluminium sinks with long half length mirrors suspended on two wires in front of the basins.

Toilets were on the lower deck.

Below Decks - Crew's Quarters

The crew's sleeping quarters were in the lower deck of the ship. The crew had a series of sets of sleeping accommodations and as seen here, were comfortable compared to those of the Zeppelins, in which it was not uncommon for the crew to sleep in hammocks. The R101 crew had a large mess hall for their private space. This contained a large table with bench seating.

The lower deck also contained the cargo hold into which the luggage and stores could be hoisted through the cargo hatch using the winch.

The Galley

All of the utensils were made of light aluminium. The galley was well fitted out with an all electric oven, a vegetable steamer and ample space for the chef.
The Smoking Room

A unique example of design. The R101 was fitted with a smoking room on the lower deck able to seat 24 people. The floor and ceiling were made of light asbestos with a thin sheet of metal on the floor. The walls were the same construction as the rest of the ship, being made of cloth. The smoking room was not considered a hazard to the ship as all precautions had been taken with materials in construction. This is where you could retire after dinner and enjoy a cigar and postprandial drink.
  Lower Deck Corridor

The corridor from the nose of the ship to the passenger accommodation was constructed of a similar material to the corridors above in the upper deck. This meant that the passengers entering the ship would see a long white and gold "panelled" corridor to the lower deck accommodation and a stair case up to the main cabins. The corridor had wooden doors on each side to the crews quarters, the cargo room, the wireless room, the galley, the smoking room and the toilets.

There were small windows in the lower deck corridor near the wireless room and the chart room. Lower windows were also in the crew room.

Related ships: R100 Interior

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