I was very interested to read this, having watched a “Ghosthunters” special last week while on wake-in shift. An hours programme detailing the suspected spirits on this ship!
Brunel's ss Great Britain
29 reviews of Brunel's ss Great Britain in English
Very very informative, original BBC footage of the ships return to Bristol in 1970 can be viewed, lots of original artifacts from the ship, diary's, ticket stubs, even a 100 year old biscuit.
Really great attraction to visit, restored fantastically. Perhaps not the type of thing you’d go back to again and again but you have to visit it at some point, steeped in history. Bit pricey to get in though! Young and old will enjoy visiting this great old ship
My son went with the school and came home with a golden ticket which allowed us to get in for free for family of 4
Which was brillant as it saved us money!!
Since my older son already had been he was able to tell as we were going around ( kinda like my own tour guild)
Which he loved doing and tbh I was Bristol. Born and bread but never been I found it interesting and would go again.
Even the shop was reasonable price
Well worth a viste x x
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One of the top attractions in Bristol, and deservedly so, the SS Great Britain is regarded by many as the first modern ship: an iron-hulled screw-propeller steamship, with an engine which developed a then massive 1,000 horse-power, she set the standard for others to follow.
History & description
Launched in 1843, she was part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s concept that one could buy a ticket in Paddington, get a Great Western Railway train to Bristol, and then a Great Western steamship to the USA. The ship was, for the time, so large (at 322ft, over 100ft longer than anything else afloat) that a special dock had to be built first in order to construct her - this is the Great Western Dock in which she now sits. The lock gates also had to be temporarily enlarged to get her out for refitting in London.
Immediately successful, she made the then fastest ever crossing of the Atlantic (14 days), but unfortunately ran aground in Northern Ireland in 1846 after a navigational error, and remained there for a year - effectively bankrupting the company.
She was then sold and worked on the Australia route both carrying goods and taking emigrants to their new life, and it estimated that a million people in Australia are descended from those she carried. She also acted as a troopship for the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny.
In 1884, she was damaged in the south Atlantic, and was taken to the Falklands and sold for use
as a warehouse and coal hulk, until scuttled in 1937. It is estimated she had sailed more than a million miles.
There she remained until an ambitious project was launched to return her to Bristol and restore her as a museum and exhibition. Taken from the Falklands to the mouth of the River Avon by barge, she was patched up to sail the last 3 miles 'home’ - albeit with pumps working furiously to keep her afloat! This was also the first time she sailed under Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge - when she left in 1843, the bridge had not been built.
Restoration thereafter was a slow and painstaking business, due to limited funds. A major Millennium Grant in 2000 speeded up the work, with her interiors restored to what they would looked like at her launch.
Due to corrosion, however, it was found necessary to compartmentalise the area around the hull and install dehumidifiers to prevent further damage. This was put to the museum’s benefit, however, by installing an artificial 'water line’ of plastic covered by a thin layer or real water, allowing visitors to inspect both above and below the hull. The museum has since won handfuls of awards.
The museum today provides guided tours of the ship, where visitors can see everything from the spacious First Class Dining room, to the steerage-class passenger accommodation and engine rooms.
The presentation focuses as much on the social history as the engineering achievement, and the museum has a huge and important collection of maritime artefacts. It is also beautifully pitched to appeal to all ages. As well as a museum, it has been used for receptions and wedding parties.
The museum has one of the best accessibility programmes of any I have visited, and they have worked hard to overcome the limitations of the ship - see website for details.
Overall, a great day out for all the family.
Comment 1 comment on this review
knibbd, 26 July 2009:
I can’t believe that no one had put a photo on here of this ship before I did. This is a brilliant place to visit and there are lots of interesting pictures to be had. I only really take snaps, but surely anyway with a real interest in photography should be down to the docks to visit this beautiful and amazing site. We paid £10.95 each as adults and that allows us to visit as many times as we like within a year. There are all sorts of events that happen over the year, so it will be well worth visiting again. This was the first time I visited the SS Great Britain despite living with in 30 miles of it all my life. I really want to visit again soon. Beware of the lift down to the dry dock, it is possibly the slowest lift I have ever been on, and you need to keep hold of the button all the way up and down. To be fair, it is meant for disabled people, but the stairs were so busy that really I couldnt be fagged to use them. There is a museum through which you enter the ship, but I was desperate to get aboard, so it will have to wait til next time.
The Ship itself has very little in the way of writen interpretation, but there is an audio tour available. Part of the ship was being used for a wedding so we did’t get to stay in those for too long. Small vignettes of life aboard the ship are played out with glimpses into the cabins, hence the captain arguing with his officer, the monkey on a bunk bed, and a woman giving birth.
A fascinating look into history and the mind of I K Brunell. The facts and figures about the scale of this ship compared to those of its day are astounding. The effort in building and the historical documents are all very interesting, but it is when you go on board that it all came to life for me. There are a number of different audio tours to take you around the boat.
A good day out.
We had a really good morning out here during our honeymoon. My husband had seen the ship just after it arrived back in the UK years ago, and was quite emotional about seeing it again. The interpretation is really interesting and we strongly recommned the audio guides, we choose different ones so that we could share the information. The cafe was quite pricey but good quality.
This is a great day out for the kids. The SS Great Britain really is one of the Bristol icons. If you live here you need to see it at least once. The prices seem a little high, but it’ worth the money.
Much more interesting that I had expected it to be the SS Great Britain was really informative and good fun.
Not only do you get a rundown of all the different guises that the ship had when it was in operation but you also get to see exactly what it would have looked like inside.
There is information on how the boat was rescued from the Faulkland islands and restored, and a good piece of footage of the last leg of its journey into Bristol along the river.
The ticket you buy is valid for a year so you can always go back again if you’re a bit overwhelmed by information the first time.
There’s a lot more to this exhibition than you might think before you go in. The ship itself is absolutely vast- having looked at the outside of it, it is a big ship, but I still couldn’t believe how many levels and rooms they managed to fit into the ship. You can walk, in any order you like, around the engine rooms, around the first and second class cabins, along the deck, and 'under water’ around the hull of the ship.
When you’re inside the ship itself, you really get a sense of what it would’ve been like to be a passenger. They’ve added waxwork models, lots of foods, various 'scenes’ such as the dentist and the butcher, and lots of personal effects in each cabin. The result is really evocative.
Walking round the hull, you get the science part- how the ship was revolutionary for its time, and how it was rescued and is now preserved, and why it will never sail again.
Then in the adjacent shed you get the history part- when the ship was built, what it was used for, the strange and varied uses that it had during its sailing lifetime.
There’s the obligatory tearoom and shop, which are nothing special (for food, try one of the other cafes down the road, some of which are excellent).
Overall, it’s really comprehensive, and lovingly put together. The initial entry fee seems a tiny bit steep at first, but it does give you 12 months of return visiting for free.
The SS Great Britain is one of the landmarks of British history and a success story of renovation, rescue and salvage. It was Brunel’s engineering triumph and the first iron hulled steam ship ever made. The style of renovation gives you the real experience of being a passenger with very realistic models dressed authentically and in carefully prepared surroundings. Each deck has a different feel and Mr Brunel himself can be found by eagle eyed visitors. The hull and propeller of the ship can be seen close up and a glass walkway simulates the sea very effectively. A must if you are visiting Bristol.
The SS Great Britain is an amazing view coming into Bristol, its iconic and so worth a visit. I think sometimes when you live in a city you miss some of thes treasures and seek further afield for places to take the kids. You don’t need to go very far, for us all with kids in Bristol, this amazing piece if history is right on our doorstep. I didn’t know you could get married there until recently!
This is a beautiful historic ship, sympathetically restored. You can go beneath a “glass sea” to see the body of the ship. On the ship itself, there are three decks to explore, including the engines, the dining room, the promenade deck, first class passenger cabins, steerage, and much more. There’s a choice of 4 audio guides which tell you about each part of the ship as you come close to it (rather than a “guided tour” in a set order).
The museum beside it tells you about the ship’s revolutionary design and its very long history - and of course, its designer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Everything is very accessible for the disabled, and there is plenty for both adults and children to enjoy.
Really good place to visit and really interesting too! It really is a great experience and you get to see what it was like for passengers in the Victorian era. They also now have audio equipment that you can take around with you. It is an onboard museum and definitely worth a visit. Bonus is also that you are on your admission ticket entitled to a limited amount of return visits to the museum.
The SS Great Britain was another engineering triumph by Brunel, incorporating the worlds first screw propeller and a hull made of iron, which later led to shipbuilders all over the globe to follow suit. It’s a beautiful ship and a hugely iconic part of Bristol. When getting the bus to school in the early days this is something I would always pass and with a little bit of interest at the sheer size of it.
The history of the ship is fascinating, and the information on board regarding the passengers it ferried over a hundred years ago as far as the Falklands, and how it broke every speed record on its first voyage.
It’s a great piece of history to learn about and a perfect location to explore the rest of the dockside on. Its also a brisk stroll from Brunels Buttery, which will cater for all your bacon yearning needs.
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