Wednesday, 29 April 2009

SS Great Britain

Last week was a busy 'fun week' out and about with sadly no painting achieved at all. However our trip to Bristol was superb.

I do love old ships and have visited all the usual suspects in Portsmouth Harbour, Victory, Warrior & the Mary Rose, frequently visit Chatham Dockyard and any visiting tall ships in Ramsgate harbour (The tall ships races when they stop there are quite a spectacular sight) One of my aims recently has been to re visit Brunels SS Great Britain which was in 1843 a great breakthrough in shipping technology with its super-size iron hull making her the biggest strongest ship ever built at the time coupled with a steam driven (1,000 hp engines)powered propeller.

I last saw the ship in about 1972/73 (just after her return on a barge all the way from the Falklands) when I was 7 and have a vague recollection of a stern painted in gold and lots of scaffolding!! She has come on somewhat!!!

Hazel even met Mr Brunel!!

And so did I tho' he wasn't as communicative!

The SS Great Britain sailed around the world 32 times which amounted to more than1,000,000 miles. it was launched in 1843 by Prince Albert and made her first Atlantic crossing to New York in 1845 in 14 days and 21 hours. Soon after in 1846 the ship was run aground in Dundrum Bay off the coast of Northern Ireland and wasn't re floated until a year later. In 1852 The SS Great Britain made its first voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne carrying hundreds of emigrants. In 1856 she acted as a troop ship carrying troops to fight in the sepoy or Crimea War. Of great note being a cricket fan was the fact that the first England Touring Team to Australia travelled on board in 1861. there was no practice nets/facilities but deck quoits could be played!! Notably England won nearly every game of cricket played on that tour!!!!!....and very sadly not repeated since!!!

In 1875 the SS Great Britain made her final voyage as a passenger ship from Liverpool to Melbourne and was converted into a Windjammer with the removal of the engine and funnel so that more cargo could be stowed her power being provided by 3 tall masts and square sails.

Detail of the steam engine

On deck view looking towards the stern from the bows

The ship is fitted out with mannequins depicting passengers on different sailings and all the equipment and victuals needed on such a trip. The picture above shows soldiers grooming the officers horses when SS Great Britain did troopship duty.

First Class Dining!!!

1st Class cabin

2nd Class Cabin


Captain Mathews & First Officer in his state room

Ships galley which would have been staffed by 10 cooks, 2 bakers, 2 butchers and a storekeeper. Travelling to Australia took 60 days with no opportunity to pick up supplies.

The dry dock that SS Great Britain is in has been roofed with glass around the ships hull and special de humidifying equipment removes 80% of the humidity preventing further corrosion to the hull below the 'waterline'

The SS Great Britain had a long working life remaining economic to run from 1843 - 1933. The last owners were the Falklands Islands Company who bought the ship in 1886 when she limped into Port Stanley badly storm damaged.For 43 years the ship was used as a floating storage hulk. In 1937 she was scuttled in Sparrow Cove. A naval architect Ewan Corlett refused to let such an important ship rust away and the plan to rescue her led to the return of the ship to Bristol in 1970 on a massive floating pontoon which was towed the 8,000 miles across the Atlantic!!

THis was an excellent visit and good value for money,see Brunels SS Great Britain for more details and visit if you havn't already!

Next to the SS Great Britain is the replica ship 'The Matthew'

Over 500 years ago John Cabot and his crew set sail for Asia aboard the original Matthew hoping to trade goods and commodities with the people who lived there.

However, he finally arrived on the coast of Newfoundland and therefore was the original discoverer of North America, not Christopher Columbus as most people believe.

Today the replica of the Matthew sits proudly in Bristol harbour for all to see. The general public are able to board the Matthew as well as embark on trips around the harbour.

In 1997 the replica Matthew followed the same course as John Cabot in 1497 and sailed across to Newfoundland. It carried the same number of crew members as the original and took the same and used the same amount of time to complete the crossing.

Its not the SS Great Britain but Airfix did a model of his 'Great Western'and its in the loft somewhere!!!!!

Built at Bristol and launched on 19 July 1837, the Great Western was a timber vessel, driven by paddles, with a 2,340 tonnes displacement. It started out across the Atlantic ocean, with a handful of passengers, on the 8 April 1838, arriving in New York 15 days later.

In 1847, the Great Western was purchased by the West India Mail Steam Packet Company and remained in survice for a further twenty years. In 1857 she was broken up in London.

Well shipmates thats it for this long nautical blog entry...coming soon the 80's band we saw in Bristol!!


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Cracking post - really interesting - maks me want to get down to the harbour and have a look around Warrior and Victory again!

legatus hedlius said...

Excellent quality photos too! I haven't been to the SS Great Britain since my sister was at University in Bristol so that must be 25 years ago. It looks well worth a re-visit!