Isambard Kingdom Brunel's SS Great Britain was a world first when she was launched at Bristol in 1843. This uniquely successful passenger ship design brought together the leading techlogies of the day (screw propeller, iron hull and 1,000hp steam engine) to transform world travel. She was a successful ship and continued sailing until 1886, travelling 32 times around the world and nearly one million miles at sea. Great Britain was finally abandoned in the Falkland Islands in 1937 but in 1970 an ambitious salvage effort brought her home to Bristol, where today she is conserved.
Brian Lavery is a Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and a renowned expert on the sailing navy. He is widely published and a winner of the prestigious Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award (2007) and the Society for Nautical Research's Anderson Medal (2008). He lives in London.