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S.S. Great Eastern

The "Great Eastern" steam ship.Created by: PICRYLDated: 1860
The "Great Eastern" steam ship, 22,500 tons
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.
82 Media in collectionpage 1 of 1
Brunel, Marc Isambard
Brunel, Marc Isambard
Ocean liners: The Atlantic Telegraph
Ocean liners: The Atlantic Telegraph
Brunel, Marc Isambard
Marc Isambart Brunel (1769–1849), engineer, builder of the Thames Tunnel
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)

[Men at Work Beside the Launching Chains of the "Great Eastern"]
Length of Atlantic Cable, copper alloy

Length of Atlantic Cable, copper alloy

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

Hjulångfartyget GREAT EASTERN av London.

Hjulångfartyget GREAT EASTERN av London.

Hjulångfartyget GREAT EASTERN av London.

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

[Isambard Kingdom Brunel Standing Before the Launching Chains of the Great Eastern]
Getting Out One of the Large Buoys for Launching, August 2nd, 1865
The Heights over Foilhummerum Bay, Valentia, the William Corey Heading Seawards, Laying the Shore-end of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable, July 7th, 1866
The Cable Passed From the Works into the Hulk (the Old Frigate Iris) Lying in the Thames at Greenwich
A Night Scene. The Cable Entangled and Nearly Broken, July 18th, 1866
Launching the Buoy from the Bow of the Great Eastern on August 8th, 1865
The Great Eastern Under Weigh, July 23rd, 1865: Escort and other Ships, H.M.S. Terrible, H.M.S. Sphinx, The Hawk and Revised: The Caroline
View Looking Aft from the Port Paddle-box on the Deck of the Great Eastern: Showing the Trough for the Cable, etc.
Searching for the Fault after Hauling Back the Cable from the Bottom of the Atlantic, July 31st, 1865
Telegraph Cable Fleet at Sea, 1865
Getting Out One of the Great Buoys: The Deck of the Great Eastern Looking From the Forecastle
The Paying-out Machinery in the Stern of the Great Eastern
Deck of the Great Eastern, the Cable Trough, etc., 1866
The Reels of Gutta-percha Covered Conducting Wire Conveyed into Tanks at the Works of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, at Greenwich
View, Looking Aft, from the Port Paddle Box of the Great Eastern, Showing the Trough for the Cable, etc.
Forward Deck of the Great Eastern Cleared for the First Attempt to Grapple for the Lost Cable, August 11th, 1865
In the Bows of the Great Eastern: The Cable Broken and Lost, Preparing to Grapple, August 2nd, 1865
Coiling the Cable in the After-tank on Board the Great Eastern at Sheerness: Visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales on May 23rd, 1865
The Forge on Deck, Night of August 9th: Preparing the Iron Plating for Capstan
The Old Frigate Iris with Her Freight of Cable Alongside the Great Eastern at Sheerness: The Cable Passed from the Hulk to the Great Eastern
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

The Picking-up Machinery in the Bows of the Great Eastern
The Great Eastern Weighing Anchor Off the Maplin Sands at the Nore, July 15, 1865
Interior of One of the Tanks on Board the Great Eastern: The Cable Passing Out
Splicing the Cable (after the First Accident) on Board the Great Eastern, July 25th, 1865
Coiling the Cable in the Large Tanks at the Works of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company of Greenwich, 1865
View of the Interior of One of the Tanks on Board the Great Eastern
Grappling for the Lost Cable

Grappling for the Lost Cable

Robert Charles Dudley (British, 1826–1909)

Homeward Bound: "The Great Eastern"

Homeward Bound: "The Great Eastern"

Robert Charles Dudley (British, 1826–1909)

The Atlantic Telegraph Cable Fleet Assembled at Berehaven (Southwest Coast of Ireland): Ships, the Great Eastern, H.M.S. Terrible, the Alby, the Medway and the William Cory
News Received Through the Atlantic Cable From All Parts of the World, etc.
Making the Splice between the Shore End and the Ocean Cable
Arrival in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland: The Cable Passed to the Paddle-box Boat of the Terrible, etc.
The Albany Buoying a Bight of the Cable of 1865 on the Night of August 26th, 1866
Deck of Great Eastern, Aft: the Paying-out Machinery
The Settlement and Church of Heart's Content, Newfoundland
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".

Robert French - Dining Saloon on the S.S. Great Eastern

Robert French - 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

Stereoscopic card, Swedish Techniska museum SKA1073

Stereoscopic card, Swedish Techniska museum 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".

The "Great Eastern" - Print, Library of Congress collection

The "Great Eastern" - Print, Library of Congress collection

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

Ocean liners: The Great Eastern
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

Great Eastern Steamship. New York (state) 19th Century Stereoscope Card.

Great Eastern Steamship. New York (state) 19th Century Stereoscope Car...

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. New York (state) 19th Century Stereoscope Card.

Great Eastern Steamship. New York (state) 19th Century Stereoscope Car...

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. New York (state) 19th Century Stereoscope Card.

The Great Eastern steamship. New York (state) 19th Century Stereoscope...

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

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

Arrival of the Great Eastern at her Dock, between Bank and Hammond Streets, North River, N.Y., June 28
William Harrison, Esq., Commander of the "Great Eastern" Steam Ship
[The "Great Eastern"]
Trinity Bay and Heart's Content, Newfoundland, the locality where the western end of the Atlantic Cable was to have been laid
Robert French - Ladies should visit the...

Robert French - 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

Robert French - Saloon on the S.S. Great Eastern

Robert French - 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."