SS Great Britain was an advanced passenger steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had previously been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship.
When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position, and they were forced out of business in 1846 after the ship was stranded by a navigational error.
Sold for salvage and repaired, Great Britain carried thousands of immigrants to Australia until converted to sail in 1881. In 1882, Great Britain was converted into a sailing ship to transport bulk coal but, after a fire on board in 1886, she was found on arrival at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands to be damaged beyond repair. She was sold to the Falkland Islands Company and used, afloat, as a storage hulk (coal bunker) until 1937, when she was towed to Sparrow Cove, 3.5 miles from Port Stanley, scuttled and abandoned. In her role as coal bunker, she served to refuel the South Atlantic fleet that defeated Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee’s fleet, in the First World War Battle of the Falkland Islands. In the Second World War, some of her iron was scavenged to repair HMS Exeter, one of the Royal Navy ships that fought the Graf Spee and was badly damaged during the Battle of the River Plate; and was utlitmately sunk during the Battle of Sunda Strait in 1942.
In 1970, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was first built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, the vessel is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour, with between 150,000-170,000 visitors annually.
First Broadcast: 2oth January 2009
A self confessed super fan of Most Haunted and editor of GhostMag.com. Matt’s passion for ghost hunting began when he moved into a haunted house in his second year of university in Leicester! His favourite location is the Niddry Street Vaults in Edinburgh.