SS Great Britain was a
bold attempt by a British company to break the
American monopoly of the trans-Atlantic passenger
At the time of her
launch in 1843,
was by far the largest ship in
and most technically
She was over 100 feet longer than her rivals, and the first
screw-propelled vessel to cross the Atlantic, also
the first iron ship to do so. However, her
high cost had left her owners in a difficult
financial position, and they were forced out of
business a few years later.
On 26 July 1845,
SS Great Britain
undertook her maiden voyage to New York.
covered 3,100 miles in just 14 days 21 hours.
In 1850, after five
voyages to New York, SS Great Britain begin her
service to Australia. In
1852, she made her first voyage to Melbourne,
Australia, carrying 630 emigrants. During her
time, she was considered the most reliable immigrant
ship between Britain and Australia.
In 1854, SS Great
Britain was refitted as a troopship for the Crimean
War, and again in 1857 she carried reinforcements to
Bombay to deal with the Indian Mutiny.
In 1882, SS Great
Britain was converted entirely to a sailing vessel
for transporting coal to San Francisco and returning
with wheat. After two successful voyages, in 1886
she was dismasted by a hurricane off Cape Horn.
She was retired to the Falkland Islands where she
was utilized as a warehouse and coal hulk until
scuttled in 1937.
In 1970, the Great
Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where
she was born. Now listed as part of the
National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, SS Great
Britain won the
prestigious Gulbenkian Prize as UK Museum of the
Year 2006, which brought with it £100,000 in prize
money. The ship also won two awards at the
Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence 2006
conference in the restoration and conservation
category as well as permanent exhibition.
These Awards follow the re-launch of the Great
Britain after work costing £11.3 million to
transform her into a major visitor attraction and
vessel attracts 150,000-170,000 visitors annually.
5' long. All wooden and metal.
A sister model is on
at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.