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SS Great Britain
Bristol Docks
SS <i>Great Britain</i>
associated engineer
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
date  launched 19th July 1843
era  Victorian  |  category  Ship  |  reference  ST577724
ICE reference number  HEW 247
photo  Jane Joyce
The first ship to have an iron hull and to have screw propulsion. She was steam driven, with masts for sail assistance when the wind was favourable.
Today, the SS Great Britain can be seen in dry dock in Bristol, where she is being restored to Brunel's original design. She is the second of his 'great ships', preceeded by the SS Great Western, and followed by the enormous SS Great Eastern.
The Great Britain was at the time of her launch the largest ship in the world. She is 322ft long and displaced 3,675 tons. Her hull is a double layer of iron and she was equipped with a six-bladed propellor, driven by steam engines that developed 1600 hp at 18 revs per minute.
In trials she achieved a speed of 11 knots under steam but was also provided with 6 masts to allow sail power to assist her when the wind was right.
She carried 252 passengers and 30 crew, as well as cargo and coal for the steam engines. Her many voyages took her to New York and Australia and she was requisitioned as troop carrier during the Crimean War.
She had been sold in 1850 and her six-bladed propellor was changed at that time to a three-bladed one. In 1882 she was converted for coal transport. She was damaged off Cape Horn in 1886 and put in to Port Stanley in the Falklands, where she remained as a store ship until 1937, when she was deliberately holed.
The Great Britain was returned to Bristol in 1970. She lies in the former Great Western Dock, which had been built for her construction. Both the interior and exterior of the ship are slowly being restored, and replicas of her engines can be observed in operation, though now turned by electricity.
reference sources   CEH W&W

SS Great Britain