SS Great Britain
Rob uncovers the extraordinary story behind what was once the longest passenger ship in the world – the SS Great Britain. Designed by Victorian engineering genius, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this vast vessel rewrote the ship-building rulebook, pioneering innovations still found on almost all modern ships.
Rob learns how the origins of the SS Great Britain lay in Brunel’s off-the-cuff boast to extend his famous Great Western Railway ‘from Bristol to New York’. Yet the renowned inventor soon had his work cut out to convince both the public and his financial backers that his revolutionary combination of an iron hull and a screw propeller would work. Climbing to the very top her rigging, Rob learns how the ship’s early years were plagued by disaster – from running aground on the coast of Ireland, to nearly capsizing in a violent storm. The Great Britain finally found success thanks to the Australian gold rush – today, 250,000 Australians can trace their direct ancestors to passengers on Brunel’s legendary steam ship. From the gilded grandeur of the first-class dining room, to the cramped bunks of the third class sleeping quarters, Rob discovers what life was like on board for the thousands who set sail on this record-breaking ship.