Just over £12 entry fee and well worth it.Beautifully restored, exploring the lower decks give you a real feeling of how it must have been to sail on this amazing ship.
Very very informative, original BBC footage of the ships return to Bristol in 1970 can be viewed, lots of original artifacts from the ship, diary's, ticket stubs, even a 100 year old biscuit.
One of the top attractions in Bristol, and deservedly so, the SS Great Britain is regarded by many as the first modern ship: an iron-hulled screw-propeller steamship, with an engine which developed a then massive 1,000 horse-power, she set the standard for others to follow.
History & description
Launched in 1843, she was part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's concept that one could buy a ticket in Paddington, get a Great Western Railway train to Bristol, and then a Great Western steamship to the USA. The ship was, for the time, so large (at 322ft, over 100ft longer than anything else afloat) that a special dock had to be built first in order to construct her - this is the Great Western Dock in which she now sits. The lock gates also had to be temporarily enlarged to get her out for refitting in London.
Immediately successful, she made the then fastest ever crossing of the Atlantic (14 days), but unfortunately ran aground in Northern Ireland in 1846 after a navigational error, and remained there for a year - effectively bankrupting the company.
She was then sold and worked on the Australia route both carrying goods and taking emigrants to their new life, and it estimated that a million people in Australia are descended from those she carried. She also acted as a troopship for the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny.
In 1884, she was damaged in the south Atlantic, and was taken to the Falklands and sold for use
as a warehouse and coal hulk, until scuttled in 1937. It is estimated she had sailed more than a million miles.
There she remained until an ambitious project was launched to return her to Bristol and restore her as a museum and exhibition. Taken from the Falklands to the mouth of the River Avon by barge, she was patched up to sail the last 3 miles 'home' - albeit with pumps working furiously to keep her afloat! This was also the first time she sailed under Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge - when she left in 1843, the bridge had not been built.
Restoration thereafter was a slow and painstaking business, due to limited funds. A major Millennium Grant in 2000 speeded up the work, with her interiors restored to what they would looked like at her launch.
Due to corrosion, however, it was found necessary to compartmentalise the area around the hull and install dehumidifiers to prevent further damage. This was put to the museum's benefit, however, by installing an artificial 'water line' of plastic covered by a thin layer or real water, allowing visitors to inspect both above and below the hull. The museum has since won handfuls of awards.
The museum today provides guided tours of the ship, where visitors can see everything from the spacious First Class Dining room, to the steerage-class passenger accommodation and engine rooms.
The presentation focuses as much on the social history as the engineering achievement, and the museum has a huge and important collection of maritime artefacts. It is also beautifully pitched to appeal to all ages. As well as a museum, it has been used for receptions and wedding parties.
The museum has one of the best accessibility programmes of any I have visited, and they have worked hard to overcome the limitations of the ship - see website for details.
Overall, a great day out for all the family.
A fantastic attraction for all the family, this and the Zoo are the two best attractions in Bristol in my view.
More then 'just a boat' every exhibit within is interactive and there are constantly actors recreating what life was like on board. If you're lucky you may even get to meet Mr Brunel himself.
The cost of a ticket is £10 per adult but that's for a whole year. So in theory you could come 365 times. That maybe unrealistic bu if you come 3 maybe 4 times that's suddenly a very affordable day out.
They've thought of everything here, not only can you buy cuddly ships cat in the gift shop you can also get cuddly rats (which are all to realistic and I'm told are their best seller).
They also do corporate hire for Business meetings, events even weddings.
There are only two down sides to 'the ship'. The first is the disabled access, it'svery good for the most part but for certain bits ie going below deck to the boiler room it's just not possible. Also the restaurant is very expensive, I recommend you go to one of the local oubs or cafes for post ship food and drinks
A good place to come any time of the year for 1 to 100 year olds.
There's a lot more to this exhibition than you might think before you go in. The ship itself is absolutely vast- having looked at the outside of it, it is a big ship, but I still couldn't believe how many levels and rooms they managed to fit into the ship. You can walk, in any order you like, around the engine rooms, around the first and second class cabins, along the deck, and 'under water' around the hull of the ship.
When you're inside the ship itself, you really get a sense of what it would've been like to be a passenger. They've added waxwork models, lots of foods, various 'scenes' such as the dentist and the butcher, and lots of personal effects in each cabin. The result is really evocative.
Walking round the hull, you get the science part- how the ship was revolutionary for its time, and how it was rescued and is now preserved, and why it will never sail again.
Then in the adjacent shed you get the history part- when the ship was built, what it was used for, the strange and varied uses that it had during its sailing lifetime.
There's the obligatory tearoom and shop, which are nothing special (for food, try one of the other cafes down the road, some of which are excellent).
Overall, it's really comprehensive, and lovingly put together. The initial entry fee seems a tiny bit steep at first, but it does give you 12 months of return visiting for free.
The SS Great Britain is a steam powered ocean ship that was designed by Brunel (you've got to love the man!), and built in 1843. It has great access for those who need wheelchairs, and perfect for all the family. Personally I found the museum a bit boring (which I think anyone would who doesn't have a particular interest in the history of boats), so I only looked at the kiddie sections, which I found much more interesting and easier to take in. However, there are some wonderful old accounts and diaries of people who had been on the ship which were definitely worth seeing.
Although the ship looks as though it's afloat, it's actually held up by huge railings, with a sheet of glass covered in an inch of water (pretending to be the river) halfway up. You can walk under this glass and have a look at the hull etc. Make sure to pick up your headset; they have one for each class of passenger that sailed, to give you a feel of what it was like, including some personal accounts.
The wonderful thing about the SS Great Britain is that you can walk around at your leisure. The headsets automatically start telling you about the section that you're in (the lower class quarters and the kitchen are especially interesting, because they've been made up to look as if they've only just been left a few minutes ago by the occupants).
Tip: get a boat there from the fountains (the ones next to the hippodrome) for a nice introduction and the start to a perfect day out.
I really enjoyed my afternoon looking around the SS Great Britain, my 2 kids did as well (13, & 3) as there are activities around the museum for the children to be involved in (ie, trying on different hats of people who were likely to be on the ship in that era, turning wheels to see the ship turn, ringing the ships bell, etc. etc) the ship itself was also good for the children as it is set up inside as if life were still being lived on the ship, cows that moo, rooms that smell (my 13 year old thought it was great that the ship's doctors room smellt of sick!) these are just some examples. In all it took about 2 hours to go round the ship and the museum - we didnt listen to the information handsets but got plenty of information from boards and there are also guides dotted about the ship who volunteered information and payed particular attention to the children.
There are toilets but nowhere to buy a drink.
Definately recommend it and the entrance fee is well worth the money as you can go back as many times as you like for free for the next 12 months. I have already taken the 3 year old back again and she loved it just as much the second time.
This is a beautiful historic ship, sympathetically restored. You can go beneath a glass sea to see the body of the ship. On the ship itself, there are three decks to explore, including the engines, the dining room, the promenade deck, first class passenger cabins, steerage, and much more. There's a choice of 4 audio guides which tell you about each part of the ship as you come close to it (rather than a guided tour in a set order).
The museum beside it tells you about the ship's revolutionary design and its very long history - and of course, its designer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Everything is very accessible for the disabled, and there is plenty for both adults and children to enjoy.
The SS Great Britain was another engineering triumph by Brunel, incorporating the worlds first screw propeller and a hull made of iron, which later led to shipbuilders all over the globe to follow suit. It's a beautiful ship and a hugely iconic part of Bristol. When getting the bus to school in the early days this is something I would always pass and with a little bit of interest at the sheer size of it.
The history of the ship is fascinating, and the information on board regarding the passengers it ferried over a hundred years ago as far as the Falklands, and how it broke every speed record on its first voyage.
It's a great piece of history to learn about and a perfect location to explore the rest of the dockside on. Its also a brisk stroll from Brunels Buttery, which will cater for all your bacon yearning needs.
This is a great day out for the kids. The SS Great Britain really is one of the Bristol icons. If you live here you need to see it at least once. The prices seem a little high, but it' worth the money.
A great place to visit with the kids, as its provides a back story into the history of bristol. The museum is amazing to look around in. Definitely don't want to miss this.
We had a really good morning out here during our honeymoon. My husband had seen the ship just after it arrived back in the UK years ago, and was quite emotional about seeing it again. The interpretation is really interesting and we strongly recommned the audio guides, we choose different ones so that we could share the information. The cafe was quite pricey but good quality.
When I paid to enter did think it was a bit steep, but as I went round with my family I totally changed my mind, so much to see, do and smell. Video footage of the rescue of the boat from the faulklands was good, and all the interactive things are brilliant. I would recommend the attraction to anyone, young or old. The butcher, baker and dr office all have great smells to accompany them, the lady being sea sick is terrible very realistic. You can return as many times as you like Ruthin a year for free on the same ticket. Only wish I lived nearer.
One of Britain's best 'museums'. Centrally located in Bristol. Lots of history and fun activities for children. Beautifully restored, an important part of Bristol's and Britain's history. Good access and parking.
I can't believe that no one had put a photo on here of this ship before I did. This is a brilliant place to visit and there are lots of interesting pictures to be had. I only really take snaps, but surely anyway with a real interest in photography should be down to the docks to visit this beautiful and amazing site. We paid £10.95 each as adults and that allows us to visit as many times as we like within a year. There are all sorts of events that happen over the year, so it will be well worth visiting again. This was the first time I visited the SS Great Britain despite living with in 30 miles of it all my life. I really want to visit again soon. Beware of the lift down to the dry dock, it is possibly the slowest lift I have ever been on, and you need to keep hold of the button all the way up and down. To be fair, it is meant for disabled people, but the stairs were so busy that really I couldnt be fagged to use them. There is a museum through which you enter the ship, but I was desperate to get aboard, so it will have to wait til next time.
The Ship itself has very little in the way of writen interpretation, but there is an audio tour available. Part of the ship was being used for a wedding so we did't get to stay in those for too long. Small vignettes of life aboard the ship are played out with glimpses into the cabins, hence the captain arguing with his officer, the monkey on a bunk bed, and a woman giving birth.
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