John Speller's Web Pages S.S. Great Western

John Speller's Web Pages - Brunel's Steamships

S.S. Great Western
In 1836 Thomas Guppy and a number of Bristol entrepreneurs, most of whom were also closely connected with the Great Western Railway, formed the Great Western Steamship Company, to operate a steamship service between Bristol and New York. It was natural that I. K. Brunel should have been asked to design the ship, but this rather backfired on the Great Western Railway by alienating quite a number of their shareholders who had commercial interests in the rival port of Liverpool. The S.S. "Great Western" was built in Bristol by Patterson & Mercer and was launched on 19 July 1837. The wooden ship was fitted with a paddle wheel and had a gross registered tonnage of 1,340 tons. The "Great Western" commenced its maiden voyage on 8 April 1838 and arrived in New York on 23 April, capturing the "blue riband" for the fastest Transatlantic voyage to date with an average speed of 8.66 knots. The ship was withdrawn from service in December 1846, but was later sold and eventually saw service in the Crimean War, after which it was broken up in 1856.
S.S. Great Western leaving Bristol on its maiden voyage. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
The S.S. Great Western encountering some heavy weather in the Atlantic
The S.S. Great Western under sail
"Farewell Awhile my Native Isle," a popular American song written in honor of the S.S. Great Western and its Captain James Hosken
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