On a showery summer morning in 1843 excited onlookers poured into the city of Bristol eager to witness the ‘floating out’ of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s revolutionary new ship – SS Great Britain. The date was 19 July 1843, exactly four years to the day since the start of the ship’s construction. Remarkably, exactly 127 years later – on 19 July 1970 – SS Great Britain returned to her home, the Great Western Dockyard.
“...we hail this day...as a day of great interest in the history of civilisation and improvement. We are to day to see committed to the waves a vessel the largest ever constructed, to be propelled by a power scarcely known some years ago, and by an application of that power of still more recent date-to traverse the waves...”The Prusian Ambassador at the SS Great Britain launch banquet