This structure contains the galley, the carpenter's shop, as well as quarters for apprentices and the "idlers." These men, the bosun, sailmaker, carpenter, and cook were actually among the hardest workers of the crew, beginning at six in the morning and, with half a hour off for breakfast and dinner, worked until six at night. The term "idlers was given them by the rest of the crew because they did not stand watch but instead had all night in.
The deckhouse first started to appear as a feature of merchant ships about fifty years before the Balclutha was built. It replaced a tiny portable structure just large enough of the cook and his stove, called the caboose. This was lashed down wherever convenient on the deck, and occasionally in heavy weather was lost overboard with its contents, including the cook.
Even a steel deckhouse like this, marking Balclutha as an up-to-date windjammer for 1886, (until that time this house was usually built of paneled teak), was not impregnable. During the unusually heavy gales off the Horn in 1905 the full rigged ship Beacon Rock took a sea aboard that smashed in the port side of her steel deckhouse, swept the galley clean of everything, and destroyed three of the ships' four boats.