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Outward Bound: 1903

Outward Bound: 1903

New York circa 1903. "S.S. Cymric outward bound." Torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in 1916. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.


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A profitable workhorse

Cymric was part of White Star's large fleet of so called intermediate liners. She was built mainly with the immigrant trade in mind during the last years of America's open door attitude towards foreign immigration. She was a two class liner with a service speed of around 15 knots, which was fine for the 1160 third class passengers she was built for. The 150 or so first class passengers were presumably not in a great hurry or expecting turkish baths and serenading from a palm court orchestra. During this time White Star was somewhat forward thinking in its treatment of third class, also referred to as "steerage."

They made a concerted effort to treat these passengers as paying customers rather than live cargo which was the more common approach among shipping firms of the period. White Star made sure that third class accommodations were not overcrowded and were kept clean. Many of the passengers were allowed cabins typically shared by 4-8 passengers rather than being crammed into open berthing altogether with no privacy. These cabins had clean berths with running water. Third class were also segregated so that single women typically were at the back of the ship with single men traveling forward and families in between. They generally had access to more open deck space than on other lines and had their own lounge and smoking room (for the men). Beer could be purchased for around 2P in the lounge but hard spirits were not allowed. The food, if not 1st class, was also far better than on most of their competitors. It was served on real plates with flatware and actual glasses and in many cases was likely better than what the passengers were used to. White Star also ensured that the lavatories and washrooms were adequate and kept spotlessly clean.

Cymric mostly served on the New York Liverpool run, with some time also spent between Boston and Liverpool. She wasn't a famous ship but she was a good one for her purpose and she was profitable for the company.

Named after Wales

Wales is "Cymru" in Welsh. Therefore to be perfectly accurate, you must use the "K" sound for the first letter (Kummrick) or more accurately for North Wales (Kümmrick). Of course, the "ic" ending was de rigueur for White Star vessels, as was the "tania" ending for Cunard ships.

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