Above: SS Great Britain depicted at its launch in 1843.
Right: Below the waterline of the restored steamship at the extraordinary SS Great Britain Trust museum in Bristol.
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At the time of her launch in 1843, the SS Great Britain was the largest ship in the world. As the world’s first iron-hulled, steam-powered ocean-going ship she revolutionised travel and set new standards in engineering, reliability and speed.
Conceived initially for the transatlantic luxury passenger trade to New York, she became successively an emigrant clipper, troopship, windjammer – and finally a coal hulk in the Falkland Islands. Her recovery and epic 6,000-mile return journey to Bristol in 1970 marked the beginning of an ambitious restoration programme. She is now one of Britain’s most exciting museums and visitor attractions.
Brian Lavery's book, SS Great Britain Enthusiasts' Manual, gets under the skin of Brunel’s Great Britain, showing how this wonder of Victorian maritime design and engineering prowess was conceived, built and operated. Drawing on a rich archive of documents and illustrations from the SS Great Britain Trust’s collections, and specially commissioned photographs, SS Great Britain Enthusiasts' Manual brings alive the story of this remarkable vessel and the experience of the passengers and crew who travelled the world’s oceans in her.
Brian Lavery is one of the world’s leading naval historians, an acclaimed author, and Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. He has published more than 30 books on marine architecture, ship construction, shipboard life and naval warfare, from its infancy to the present day. He was an historical consultant on Peter Weir’s film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). In 2007 Brian received the Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award and in 2008 the Society for Nautical Research’s Anderson Medal. He lives at Greenwich, London.