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 green 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.
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 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
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
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
A very rare shot of a two berth passenger cabin.
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
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.
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.
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
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.