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Brunel's SS Great Britain

1073 of 1157 nominations


Brunel's SS Great Britain

Is this an icon?


Brunel's SS Great Britain

As the days of the great wooden sailing ships came to an end with the naval wars of the Napoleonic era, a new era in maritime technology dawned. The SS Great Britain was launched in Bristol in 1843, when Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert resourcefully flung a bottle of champagne at the ship (after the official bottle had missed the bow). She was an iron-built, propeller-driven passenger ship, the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. At nearly 2000 tons, she was the largest vessel afloat anywhere on the high seas, plying the transatlantic passenger route in a head-spinning 14 days, later branching out in the direction of Australia. She saw passenger service for over three decades, before becoming a cargo ship, and then finally being damaged in a storm in 1886. A salvage campaign that got under way in the 1960s began the business of restoring the Great Britain to her rightful glory. Now berthed in splendour in the very same dry dock in Bristol where she was originally built, this majestic ship can once again be appreciated for what she was – the world’s first great ocean liner.

Photo © Jeff Morgan / Alamy


Your comments

Brunel is one of the greatest Britons ever to have lived and his mark on Britain and the world is so tangible that it would make sense that his masterpiece, the ss Great Britain, should be nominated as one of the great British icons. It is no surprise that Visit England has chosen a view of the ship's propeller as its visual icon of their 'England's Genius' campaign for 2006.

Nancy Chambers

It is a fitting memorial to the genius of Brunel whose daring innovations turned visions into reality, and it is close to his other great enegineering achievements.
David Jones

In an age where this soubriquet is conferred all too readily, the SS Great Britain is truly deserving. It represents the spirit of an nation at a pivotal point in the shifting tectonic plates of innovation and engineering dominance.
John Peters

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I think the National Gallery is part of the heritage of England