Friday 21 August 2015


Inevitably, those interested in the history of the Franklin Expedition have pondered what it was like to live on the cramped quarters of HMS Terror and Erebus. As part of my goal to reconstruct lower deck plans for HMS Terror, I created cross sections and profiles for the great cabin, the captain’s and officer’s berths, and the galley stove. However, I also created plans for other areas of the lower deck and I think these better reveal what it was like for the crew aboard Terror during those long three years from 1845 to 1848. 

These plans use information contained in the original Admiralty draughts for HMS Terror and Erebus, with additional data gleaned from the plans for HMS Investigator. Further information was sourced from contemporary images of HMS Warrior, HMS Unicorn, and HMS Trincomalee, as well as several contemporary accommodation plans and models held at the National Maritime Museum. 

For further orientation, please consult my plans of Terror’s lower deck

A cross section of the crew mess area. Note the location of the large sail bin on the 
left of the section (only half is represented here).  Instead of benches or stools, 
the crew sat on their own chests, each shared by two men. The crew slept where
they ate - note the hammock hooks on the deck beam above the table. Each hook was 
spaced precisely 14 inches apart. 

Hypothetical arrangement of chests with available mess tables on Terror's starboard side. 

Precisely amidships, the warrant officers shared one cramped cabin. It had a very large chest of
drawers against the aft wall. 

The clerk in charge had a rather generous cabin with a sliding window, looking onto the
purser's steward. Such an arrangement was common, and presumably discouraged theft.
The mates had the smallest cabins on the ship - just large enough to accommodate the
standard furniture given to officers. 

Despite limited space, there were three storerooms on Terror's lower deck. The purser's steward
was located next to the clerk in charge's cabin, where he could keep a watchful eye on it.
It contained several bins and a chest of drawers. The captain steward and the gunroom
steward were outfitted identically and were located on opposite sides of the ship.
Each had a storage tank for liquids as well as chests of drawers.