Launched on the 19th July 1843 the ss Great Britian was described as ‘the greatest experiment since the Creation’.
Conceived by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a visionary engineer of the Victorian era, with an iron hull designed by Thomas Patterson and rigging and engines by Thomas Guppy the ss Great Britain in 1843 was the biggest, strongest ship ever built and transformed the technology of sea travel.
Built as a ‘sail assist steam ship’ with 6 masts carrying special ‘schoonerrig sails’ the ship was fitted with a revolutionary steam driven screw propeller instead of the more conventional paddle wheels.
(But it wasn’t all plain sailing. It took 18 months to sail out of Bristol!Brunel had made the ship too big to fit easily through the lock gates at the entrance to the floating harbour and he had to persuade the harbour authorities to temporarily dismantle the gates and await a high spring tide.)
The ship underwent several transformations over her working lifetime, passenger ship, cargo ship, steam ship, sail ship until 1933 when her working life came to an end and finally in 1937 when the ss Great Britain was scuttled in Sparrow Cove, Falkland Islands.
Now back in the original dry dock in Bristol where it was built the ss Great Britain has been lovingly restored to those halcyon days of a great ocean liner.