Name: SS Great Britain /Chromo-lithograph
Owner: Great Western Steamship Company
Builder: William Patterson
Cost: Projected: £70,000
Laid down: July 1839
Launched: 19 July 1843
Maiden voyage: 26 July 1845
In service: 1845–1886
Homeport: Bristol, England
Type: Passenger steamship
Displacement: 3,675 tons load draught
Length: 322 ft (98 m)
Beam: 50 ft 6 in (15.39 m)
Draught: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Installed power: 2 × twin 88-inch (220 cm) cylinder, 6 ft (1.8 m) stroke, 500 hp (370 kW), 18 rpm inclined direct-acting steam engines
Propulsion: Single screw propeller
Sail plan: Original: Five schooner-rigged and one square-rigged mast
After 1853: Three square-rigged masts
Speed: 10 to 11 knots (19 to 20 km/h; 12 to 13 mph)
Capacity: 360 passengers, later increased to 730
1,200 tons of cargo
Complement: 130 officers and crew (as completed)
SS Great Britain was an advanced passenger steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company's transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had previously been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship. She was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic, which she did in 1845, in the time of 14 days.
When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position, and they were forced out of business in 1846 after the ship was stranded by a navigational error.
Sold for salvage and repaired, Great Britain carried thousands of immigrants to Australia until converted to sail in 1881. Three years later, the vessel was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937.
In 1970, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was first built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, the vessel is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour, with between 150,000–170,000 visitors annually.
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