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S.S. Great Eastern

SS Great Eastern was the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers. She was capable to sail from England to Australia without refueling. The steamship was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall Iron Works on the River Thames, London. The ship's five funnels were rare and were later reduced to four. It also had the largest set of paddle wheels.

On 25 March 1852, Brunel made a sketch of a steamship in his diary and wrote beneath it: "Say 600 ft x 65 ft x 30 ft" (180 m x 20 m x 9.1 m). These measurements were six times larger by volume than any ship afloat. Brunel realized that the ship would need more than one propulsion system; since twin screws were still very much experimental, he settled on a combination of a single screw and paddle wheels, with auxiliary sail power. Using paddle wheels meant that the ship would be able to reach Calcutta, where the Hooghly River was too shallow for screws.

Brunel knew her affectionately as the "Great Babe". He died in 1859 shortly after her ill-fated maiden voyage, off Portland, when conducting trials, an explosion aboard blew off one of the funnels. The funnel was salvaged, purchased by the water company supplying Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in Dorset, and used as a filtering device. It was later transferred to the Bristol Maritime Museum close to Brunel's SS Great Britain then moved to the SS Great Britain museum.

Her first voyage to North America began on 17 June 1860, with 35 paying passengers, eight company "dead heads" (non-paying passengers), and 418 crew. Among the passengers were the two journalists and engineers Zerah Colburn and Alexander Lyman Holley as well as three directors of the Great Ship Company.

Upon Great Eastern's return to England, the ship was chartered by the British Government to transport troops to Quebec. 2,144 officers and men, 473 women and children, and 200 horses were embarked at Liverpool along with 40 paying passengers. The ship sailed on 25 June 1861 and went at full speed throughout most of the trip arriving at her destination 8 days and 6 hours after leaving Liverpool. Great Eastern stayed for a month and returned to Britain at the beginning of July with 357 paying passengers. However, the ship operation had a little commercial success.

In 1865, after repairs, she plied for several years as a passenger liner between Britain and North America before being converted to a cable-laying ship and laying the first lasting transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866. At the end of her cable-laying career, she was refitted once again as a liner but once again efforts to make her a commercial success failed. She was used as a showboat, a floating palace/concert hall, and a gymnasium. She acted as an advertising hoarding—sailing up and down the Mersey for Lewis's Department Store.

An early example of breaking-up a structure by use of a wrecking ball, she was scrapped at New Ferry on the River Mersey by Henry Bath & Son Ltd in 1889–1890—it took 18 months to take her apart.
The "Great Eastern" steam ship, 22,500 tons
1827
1827
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1958
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1958
82 Media in collectionpage 1 of 1
[Men at Work Beside the Launching Chains of the "Great Eastern"]
Length of Atlantic Cable

Length of Atlantic Cable

Tiffany & Co. (1837–present) Made in New York, United States

Chart of the submarine Atlantic Telegraph /

Chart of the submarine Atlantic Telegraph /

Shows land telegraph cables in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Europe, and north Africa, submarine cables, steamship routes, and proposed lines. Relief shown by contours. Depths shown by soundings. "Engraving ... more

Great Eastern

Great Eastern

Advertisement label showing sidewheeler. LOT subdivision subject: Ships (clipper and steam). Title and other information transcribed from caption card and item. Copyright by Ad Koop and Sattler. Caption card tr... more

The great eastern excursion! This mammoth steamship, the wonder of the age, will arrive at Norfolk and be open for the reception of visitors on Saturday, August 4 ... This splendid steamer Baltimore will make an excursion to Old Point and Norfol

The great eastern excursion! This mammoth steamship, the wonder of the...

Transportation. Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile page images and as full text in SGML. Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 204, Folder 3.

Great Eastern Steamship, docked at harbor, New York City, N.Y.

Great Eastern Steamship, docked at harbor, New York City, N.Y.

Title devised by Library staff. Publisher attribution based on provenance. Gottheim collection code: GNY 119. Forms part of the Larry Gottheim Collection of stereographs and other early photographs (Library of ... more

The Great Eastern, lying at the dock foot of Hammond Street, N.Y

The Great Eastern, lying at the dock foot of Hammond Street, N.Y

Title from item. Photographer not identified. Attribution based on provenance. Gottheim collection code: GNY 123. Forms part of the Larry Gottheim Collection of stereographs and other early photographs (Library... more

Bacon's chart of the Atlantic Telegraph : containing a history of telegraphy, origin and progress of the Atlantic Telegraph, description of the old and new cables, etc., etc. : illustrated by maps, engravings, diagrams, etc.

Bacon's chart of the Atlantic Telegraph : containing a history of tele...

Includes text, diagrams, and an ancillary map of "Map Showing the Proposed Ocean Telegraphs and Overland Route Round the World." Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Stampe... more

Homeward Bound: "The Great Eastern"

Homeward Bound: "The Great Eastern"

Robert Charles Dudley (British, 1826–1909)

Grappling for the Lost Cable

Grappling for the Lost Cable

Robert Charles Dudley (British, 1826–1909)

Stereobild av Clifton Suspension Bridge, fyra män på klippa bredvid. Bron under uppbyggnad. På bilden i höghatt möjligen konstruktören Isambard Kingdom Brunel."Wiew of the bridge, by E. F. West, Observatory Clifton".

Stereobild av Clifton Suspension Bridge, fyra män på klippa bredvid. B...

Stereobild av Clifton Suspension Bridge, fyra män på klippa bredvid. Bron under uppbyggnad. På bilden i höghatt möjligen konstruktören Isambard Kingdom Brunel."Wiew of the bridge, by E. F. West, Observatory Clifton".

Dining Saloon on the S.S. Great Eastern

Dining Saloon on the S.S. Great Eastern

Thought that after our couple of "shippy" days, it'd be interesting to see what was available to passengers below decks on snazzy (technical term) vessels like the Brunel-designed S.S. Great Eastern, berthed in... more

The "Great Eastern"

The "Great Eastern"

Artist: Charles Parsons (signature on image). Currier & Ives : a catalogue raisonné / compiled by Gale Research. Detroit, MI : Gale Research, c1983, no. 2803

SKA1073

SKA1073

Stereobild av Clifton Suspension Bridge, fyra män på klippa bredvid. Bron under uppbyggnad. På bilden i höghatt möjligen konstruktören Isambard Kingdom Brunel. "Wiew of the bridge, by E. F. West, Observatory Clifton".

Hjulångfartyget GREAT EASTERN av London.

Hjulångfartyget GREAT EASTERN av London.

Hjulångfartyget GREAT EASTERN av London.

Great Eastern steamer. H. De Marsan, Publisher, No, 38 Chatham Street, N. Y

Great Eastern steamer. H. De Marsan, Publisher, No, 38 Chatham Street,...

"As sung by Dick McGowen, the Prince of Banjoists." In English. (language)

Great Eastern Steamship

Great Eastern Steamship

Photograph shows the Great Eastern steamship docked at New York City's harbor. Title from item. Publisher attribution based on provenance. Gottheim collection code: GNY 117. Forms part of the Larry Gottheim Col... more

Great Eastern Steamship

Great Eastern Steamship

Photograph shows the Great Eastern steamship docked at harbor, New York City, New York. Title from item. Publisher attribution based on provenance. Gottheim collection code: GNY 118. Forms part of the Larry Got... more

The Great Eastern steamship

The Great Eastern steamship

Photographs shows the Great Eastern docked at harbor in New York City, New York. Also, a "Western Hotel" coach and people on the dock. Title from item. Card number: "No. 738". "this is #73 of Stacy's American S... more

Steamship Great Eastern, lying at the dock foot of Hammond-Street, New-York

Steamship Great Eastern, lying at the dock foot of Hammond-Street, New...

Title from item. Publisher attribution based on provenance. Gottheim collection code: GNY 121. Forms part of the Larry Gottheim Collection of stereographs and other early photographs (Library of Congress) Purch... more

The Great Eastern. From the foot of Hammond Street

The Great Eastern. From the foot of Hammond Street

Photographs shows the Great Eastern docked at harbor in New York City, New York. Title from item. Revenue stamp on back of card. Gottheim collection code: GNY 120. Forms part of the Larry Gottheim Collection of... more

Steamship Great Eastern, lying at the dock foot of Hammond-Street, New-York

Steamship Great Eastern, lying at the dock foot of Hammond-Street, New...

Title from item. Publisher attribution based on provenance. Gottheim collection code: GNY 121. Forms part of the Larry Gottheim Collection of stereographs and other early photographs (Library of Congress) Purch... more

The Great Eastern. From the foot of Hammond Street

The Great Eastern. From the foot of Hammond Street

Photographs shows the Great Eastern docked at harbor in New York City, New York. Title from item. Revenue stamp on back of card. Gottheim collection code: GNY 120. Forms part of the Larry Gottheim Collection of... more

Ladies should visit the...

Ladies should visit the...

The S.S. Great Eastern as gargantuan advertising billboard at North Wall, Dublin.....Thanks to all for great research on this one, and to nintytwo ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/nintytwo/ ) for helping us unco... more

Saloon on the S.S. Great Eastern

Saloon on the S.S. Great Eastern

This "saloon" on the S.S. Great Eastern looks more like a bar to modern eyes. Love the ropes tethering the chandeliers here and in the dining saloon ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/8204527865 ) - test... more

The Great Eastern / photo. by Whipple & Black ; J.H. Bufford's lith., Boston.

The Great Eastern / photo. by Whipple & Black ; J.H. Bufford's lith., ...

Port view of the sidewheeler steamship Great Eastern. Copyright by Geo. Stimpson.

The Great Eastern / photo. by Whipple & Black ; J.H. Bufford's lith., Boston.

The Great Eastern / photo. by Whipple & Black ; J.H. Bufford's lith., ...

Port view of the sidewheeler steamship Great Eastern. Copyright by Geo. Stimpson.

The Eighth wonder of the world - the Atlantic cable

The Eighth wonder of the world - the Atlantic cable

Allegorical scene showing Neptune with a trident in foreground, and lion representing Great Britain holding one end of the Atlantic cable and eagle representing the United States holding the other end of the ca... more

The Eighth wonder of the world - the Atlantic cable

The Eighth wonder of the world - the Atlantic cable

Allegorical scene showing Neptune with a trident in foreground, and lion representing Great Britain holding one end of the Atlantic cable and eagle representing the United States holding the other end of the ca... more

The laying of the cable---John and Jonathan joining hands / W & P.

The laying of the cable---John and Jonathan joining hands / W & P.

A crude but engaging picture, celebrating the goodwill between Great Britain and the United States generated by the successful completion of the Atlantic telegraph cable between Newfoundland and Valentia Bay (I... more

Guide to the Great Eastern Steamship. Captain John Vine Hall commander. [n. p.] [c. 1860].

Guide to the Great Eastern Steamship. Captain John Vine Hall commander...

Illus. of ship. Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile page images and as full text in SGML. Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 234, Folder 2a.

The Atlantic telegraph cable / Edw. Forbes.

The Atlantic telegraph cable / Edw. Forbes.

Composite of scenes and people related to the laying of the Atlantic telegraph cable and the invention of the telegraph including B. Franklin, Cyrus W. Field & Prof. Morse. Includes Pres. Johnson reading the mo... more

The Atlantic telegraph cable / Edw. Forbes.

The Atlantic telegraph cable / Edw. Forbes.

Composite of scenes and people related to the laying of the Atlantic telegraph cable and the invention of the telegraph including B. Franklin, Cyrus W. Field & Prof. Morse. Includes Pres. Johnson reading the mo... more

The iron steam ship "Great Eastern" 22,500 tons: constructed under the direction of I.K. Brunel, F.R.S. -- D.C.L. commanded by Capt. William Harrison

The iron steam ship "Great Eastern" 22,500 tons: constructed under the...

Artist: Charles Parsons. Currier & Ives : a catalogue raisonné / compiled by Gale Research. Detroit, MI : Gale Research, c1983, no. 3370

The iron steam ship "Great Eastern" 22,500 tons: constructed under the direction of I.K. Brunel, F.R.S. -- D.C.L. commanded by Capt. William Harrison

The iron steam ship "Great Eastern" 22,500 tons: constructed under the...

Artist: Charles Parsons. Currier & Ives : a catalogue raisonné / compiled by Gale Research. Detroit, MI : Gale Research, c1983, no. 3370

The "Great Eastern" steam ship, 22,500 tons

The "Great Eastern" steam ship, 22,500 tons

141 U.S. Copyright Office. This record contains unverified data from PGA shelflist card. Associated name on shelflist card: Parsons. "Copyright Deposit, Southern District of N.Y., Oct. 28, 1859, No. 141."

The "Great Eastern" steam ship, 22,500 tons

The "Great Eastern" steam ship, 22,500 tons

141 U.S. Copyright Office. This record contains unverified data from PGA shelflist card. Associated name on shelflist card: Parsons. "Copyright Deposit, Southern District of N.Y., Oct. 28, 1859, No. 141."