When launched by Prince Albert at Bristol on 19th July 1843 Isambard Kingdom Brunel's revolutionary ship became the world's first great ocean liner.
|Launch of SS Great Britain, Bristol 1843|
(Painting - Lordprice collection - CC BY-SA 2.5)
In 1845 New York was to greet the SS Great Britain when she completed her first Atlantic crossing, having left Liverpool 14 days and 21 hours earlier.
Disaster struck in 1846 when Captain James Hosken ran the ship aground in Dundrum Bay, Northern Ireland.
|Stranded in Dundrum Bay, County Down|
(Science & Society Picture Library - Author unknown)
The great ship was not rescued for nearly a year and in 1850 the Great Western Steamship Company sold her to Gibbs, Bright & Company. Two years later she started her life as an emigrant steam clipper carrying people to a new life in Australia.
|SS Great Britain, 1853|
(Source Arthur J Maginnis (1900) - The Atlantic Ferry Men)
In the years between 1852 and 1875 the SS Great Britain carried around 14000 people to Australia, besides acting as a troop ship for the Crimea War (1856) and carrying troops needed in response to the Indian Mutiny.(1857). On a lighter note she carried the first English cricket team to Australia.
He role changed again in 1882 when her engine and funnel were removed and she was converted to carry cargo. She carried Welsh coal to San Francisco. She suffered bad storm damage off Cape Horn in 1886 and limped into the Falkland Islands. Bought by the Falkland Islands Company, she remained economic to run until 1933. By then she had become unsafe to even be used as a floating warehouse for coal and wool. In 1937 she was scuttled in Sparrow Cove, a remote shallow bay.
|SS Great Britain at Sparrow Cove. 1968|
Her masts were removed and on 19 July 1970, 127 years to the day after her launch the SS Great Britain returned home to Bristol.
Restored to all her glory she was relaunched on her 162nd birthday in 2005. Today she can be seen in her original dock on Bristol's Historic Quayside.
|SS Great Britain|
This is a Sepia Saturday post inspired by another later launching.
I wonder whether any of our Australian Sepians can trace their roots back to Brunel's great ship.
For other flotations sail over to Sepia-Saturday-198.