The S.S. Great Britain, beautifully restored lies in her own dock in Bristol. She was designed and built by the great nineteenth century engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He was born in 1806 and he was the son of another great engineer, Marc Brunel who was French. It seems remarkable, but his first project was the Rotherhithe Tunnel which went under the Thames; Isambard was assistant to his father Marc at the young age of seventeen! His next feat, which he didn’t live to see completed was the design for the wonderful suspension bridge over the River Avon at Clifton in Bristol in 1829 when he was twenty-three. He continued his connection with Bristol with the Great Western Railway, but then there came his ship project… the S.S. Great Western…
The S.S. Great Britain was Brunel’s next steamship and at the time she was launched in 1843 she was the largest ship in the world – in fact the was the largest iron object in the world at the time. The Great Britain was the first screw-propelled, and the first ocean-going, iron-hulled steam ship… all shipping since then, including the massive tankers, aircraft carriers and luxury liners are children of Brunel’s masterpiece.
Brunel saw the potential for luxury travel, catering for a different sort of passenger crossing the Atlantic; the Great Britain carried 252 first and second class passengers and 130 crew.
“The ss Great Britain typifies Brunel’s innovative approach to engineering and also marks the beginnings of international passenger travel and world communications.”