A relic and reminder of the part played by Bristol in Great Britain’s rule of the waves, and situated in pride of place within the city's historic Grade II-listed Dry Docks, the Brunel’s SS Great Britain is a true gem of the South West.
Originally designed to transport prominent and wealthy members of Victorian society from Bristol to New York within two weeks, this steamship was designed by Bristol’s iconic engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Constructed in 1845 at the city docks by shipwright William Patterson, this nautical behemoth cost a total of £117,000 to build - the modern-day equivalent would be around £15 million.
This was the first seagoing ship in the world to feature the combination of an iron hull and a screw propeller - and was the first ironclad ship to cross the Atlantic.
Eventually, after lengthy and varied periods of service, the Brunel’s SS Great Britain came to be permanently moored off the Falkland Islands, where she was used as a warehouse and coal scuttle. After falling into disrepair, she was brought back to Bristol in the nick of time and painstakingly restored in the1970s. Today the ship is securely installed in dry dock in an airtight glass-bottomed platform - intended to look like the ocean, it effectively means you can view the entire vessel from all angles (and in all weathers).