ss Great Britain
Great Western Dockyard
Gas Ferry Road
Somerset BS1 6TY
Now fully restored, Brunel’s magnificent ss Great Britain rests in the dockyard where she was constructed over 175 years ago. She is famous because she was the world’s first iron-hulled, steam-powered, ocean going passenger ship. Specifically designed for the transatlantic route to New York, she completed her maiden voyage in an amazing 14 days.
Considered one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s finest achievements, ss Great Britain was designed and built in her own dry dock. Launched by HRH Prince Albert on 19th July 1843, she was the largest and most technically innovative ship of her era. The ship and her original dry dock have been reunited making this a significant historical site.
Both children and adults will love exploring this ship. See the beautifully restored 1st Class accommodation, the 3rd class steerage quarters used by gold-hungry immigrants to Australia, and the 3-storey high 1845 engine in the noisy, grimy engine room. Then go outside and ‘under the water’ to see the bottom of the ship and the massive screw propeller. The ship appears to be sitting in water but it is in fact glass and you won’t get wet!
Scuttled at Falkland Islands
After 43 years of eventful service she was retired as a hulk in the Falkland Islands and was used to store coal and wool. In 1937 she was towed out of Port Stanley harbour and scuttled in shallow water. Some thirty years later a Trust was formed with the aim of refloating and returning the ss Great Britain to Bristol. In July 1970 this was accomplished.
The Dockyard museum follows the exciting history of Brunel’s masterpiece. There are hands-on interactive displays which allow the visitor to see how the great ship worked and experience preparing it for a voyage.
The visitor can enjoy the sights, sounds and even the smells of a voyage in this great ship. Personal audio guides are provided and the ship explored at your own pace.
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here:
The ss Great Britain Trust advise that it has won two national awards for access solutions on site. They state that historic authenticity has been a requirement; therefore some areas may be more difficult to access. However, alternate access routes and facilities are provided as required.
There are lifts to ensure that the ship and dry dock are fully accessible. Where cabins are too narrow for standard wheelchairs to fit, special narrow wheelchairs can be provided.
For Deaf visitors, British Sign Language video guides are available, both for adults and children.
For Blind and partially sighted visitors, special audio guides have been provided. Prior contact with ss Great Britain will ensure that an audio guide is available. For safety, a sighted guide must accompany the sight impaired visitor. That sighted guide will have free entrance when accompanying the sight impaired visitor. Guide dogs are welcome.
Contact & Further Information
The best way to visit the ship is by ferry. However, there is a car park beside the Great Western Dockyard - just follow the white anchor symbol on the brown tourist signs for ss Great Britain.
Bristol Insight red open-top sightseeing buses operate between February and December and can be picked up from Temple Meads Railway Station and other key locations in the city centre.
Web: Bristol Insight has more information and a map.
Google Map - ss Great Britain