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Great Britain

Built in drydock in 1843 by the Great Western SS Co., Bristol for their own company, she was a 3,270 gross ton ship, length 289ft x beam 50ft, clipper stem, one funnel, six masts (rigged for sail), iron construction, single screw and a speed of 9 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 360-1st class only.

Floated on 19 July 1843, she sailed from Liverpool on her maiden voyage to New York on 26 July 1845 (arr.10 August, dep. 30 August). She arrived back at Liverpool on 15 September 1845. In 1846 she was fitted with bilge keels to minimise rolling, her six-bladed propellors replaced by four-bladed ones and her masts reduced to five. On 9 May 1846 she commenced her first voyage after alterations when she left Liverpool for New York. On 22 September 1846 she started on her fifth voyage but grounded in Dundrum Bay, Co Down, Ireland and was not salvaged until August 1847 when she was towed to Liverpool. In December 1850 she was sold to Gibbs, Bright & Co., reconditioned, fitted with new engines, two funnels athwartships, four masts and accommodation for 50-1st and 680-3rd class passengers. She started a single round voyage between Liverpool and New York on 1 May 1852 and on 18 August 1852 commenced sailings between Liverpool and Australia. On 28 July 1858 she made another single Liverpool - New York sailing and in February 1876 was laid up at Birkenhead at the conclusion of her 32nd round voyage to Australia.

Sold in 1882, her engines were removed and she was converted to a three masted sailing ship. In 1886 she became a coal and wool hulk in the Falkland Islands until 1933. In 1937 she was beached at Sparrow Cove and in 1970 was refloated, placed on floating pontoons and towed to Bristol. She has now been completely restored as a tribute to her designer - Brunel - and is open to the public. [North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P.Bonsor, vol.1,p.66] Contributed by Ted Finch

great britain

voyage advertisement

life on board picture
Life on board during an 1863 voyage, as captured by Herman Zumstein, a passenger who worked in Melbourne as a silk merchant.

SS Great Britain's Australian Voyages

Outward (Liverpool-Melbourne)

[Source: Is yours an SS Great Britain family? By Adrian Ball]

The Great Britain made 47 voyages between leaving Bristol for trials in January 1845 until she was brought back to the same port in July 1970. Of these round trips, 32 were between Liverpool, or London and Australian ports. (date format ddmmyyyy)

The first two voyages were from London to Liverpool. Voyage 3 was her maiden run from Liverpool to New York, which began on 26th July 1845. She remained on the Atlantic route until Voyage 8 in May / June of 1852.

Outward sailing dates (Liverpool - Melbourne)

No. Date Days Crew Passengers
9

21-08-1852

81 * 143 630
10

11-08-1853

65 141 319
11

13-06-1854

66 138 349
12

05-03-1855 to 14-06-1856

Trooping for the Crimean War
13

16-02-1857

62 133 469
14

24-09-1857 to 10-4-1858

Trooping for the Indian Mutiny
15

28-07-1858 to 07-09-1858

Round trip, Liverpool - New York
16

21-11-1858

86 165 332
17

01-07-1859 to 10-08-1859

Round trip, Liverpool - New York
18

11-12-1859

56 120 321
19

20-07-1860

62 130 404
20

17-02-1861

75 137 406
21

20-10-1861

64 141 535
22

15-06-1862

60 165 544
23

25-01-1863

69 142 536
24

15-10-1863

63 146 589
25

26-05-1864

60 140 451
26

17-12-1864

62 139 478
27

25-07-1865

56 142 504
28

18-02-1866

58 157 436
29

27-10-1866

59 161 331
30

19-05-1867

59 147 328
31

15-12-1867

57 - 512
32

09-07-1868

58 156 616
33

03-02-1869

59 152 561
34

12-08-1869

62 169 490
35

19-03-1870

57 170 618
36

06-10-1870

59 144 509
37

24-05-1871

64 153 391
38

17-12-1871

66 149 396
39

27-07-1872

54 132 337
40

30-03-1873

57 163 386
41

27-10-1873

56 ** 161 591
42

04-06-1874

56 160 369
43

11-01-1875

67 157 387
44

26-08-1875

54 *** 144 355
45

02-11-1882 to 01-02-1884

Round trip, Liverpool - San Francisco
46

11-05-1884 to 08-07-1885

Round trip, Liverpool - San Francisco
47

06-02-1886 to 19-07-1970

Penarth to San Francisco, but the voyage ended at Falkland Islands on 24th May 1886 where she was later converted to a hulk.
Voyage 47 was resumed in April 1970 when, after refloating, she was towed back to Bristol on floating pontoons, arriving on 19th July 1970.

     * Great Britain sailed on to Sydney

    ** Great Britain Sailed on to Brisbane

   *** This voyage began in London, not Liverpool

see also Rules for Passengers

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Last updated: January 21, 2005 and maintained by and M. Kohli