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Brunel's ss Great Britain

Opening times

Open All Year

Open - 01/01/2014 to 31/12/2014

Brunel's ss Great Britain

Step on board the most extraordinary time-machine. Brunel’s ss Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner is Bristol’s no.1 attraction on Trip Advisor (2013).

The brainchild of our most famous Bristolian, Isambard Kingdom Brunel; this iconic steam ship is the heart of a multi-award winning visitor attraction.

Rescued from rust and wreckage in 1970, and since lovingly restored to her Victorian hey-day, a visit to the ss Great Britain allows you to step back in time and explore true stories from the opulent First-Class to the cramped and quarrelsome Steerage. Each kitchen and cabin, dining room and doctor’s surgery emanates authentic sounds and smells which bring the ship and its history to life. So much more than a dusty old museum, this is a living and breathing, atmospheric experience.

Step ‘underwater’ for a unique and magnificent view of the ship below the beautiful glass sea; investigate the Riggers’ Yard and the Great Western Dockyard, test your skills with interactive displays and choose from a selection of fascinating audio companions. With storytelling and games for children to in-depth historical research in Brunel’s Institute, there is something for everybody at Brunel’s ss Great Britain.

Go Aloft!
Step into the shoes of a Victorian sailor and climb the huge mainmast of the ss Great Britain. You’ll be securely strapped into a harness and briefed, before heading up the rigging to a viewing platform 26m above the ground. From here, you can admire the beautiful vista over the floating harbour, or you can decide to step out onto the main yard, 9m across the ship below, if you are brave enough! Tickets cost £10 and you will be able to buy them on the day of your visit on the Weather Deck.

Flash, Bang, Wallop!
A Victorian photographic studio and dressing up experience - step back in time and travel across the world to a Melbourne photographer’s studio in 1852 as they enter the Baker Gallery. The ‘Flash, Bang, Wallop!’ exhibition is just one of the many new activities on offer to families this year when they visit Brunel’s ss Great Britain.

Crew do you think you are?
Visitors to Brunel’s ss Great Britain can follow a series of crew challenges as they walk around the Ship, to see which job would have suited them best. For example they can steer the ship like a helmsman, and decide what the First Class passengers should have for dinner just as the cook would have done. The illustrations on the wheel are based on real crew members who worked on the ship, such as ship’s surgeon Samuel Archer, and John Gray, Captain of the ss Great Britain between 1854-75.

Crew talks
Find out what life was like on board the ss Great Britain as a crew member, with these volunteer led talks. Discover how they dealt with living conditions, quality of food and drink, relationships and most importantly their Captain. Talks last approximately 30 minutes.

You'll also have the chance to eavesdrop on conversations from almost 160 years ago. Combining sounds with props, the scenes show what life was like for passengers and crew on a 65-day voyage to Australia. The ambitious sound-scape covers idle gossip and plotting gamblers, grumbling stewards, and musicians tuning their instruments. Set in 1853, all the scenes are inspired by true stories taken from passengers’ accounts, and show how First Class passengers used the saloon for dining and entertainment.

Whilst wandering through the Great Western Dockyard where the ship is situated, you'll wander past the Vistorian Pissoir Soundscape, which will include authentic sounds of whistling, tinkling and chattering from unseen dockworkers!

A choice of audio companions is included in admission, for visitors to travel First Class, Steerage, with a Maritime Archaeologist, or there is Sinbad the Ship's Cat for children. French and German adult and children tours are also available.

There are special deals for families and grandparent families, family tickets (include two adults and two or three children) and under fives go free. Your ticket also entitles you to return throughout the year. Visit the website for full details on admission an opening times.

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Contact details

Great Western Dockyard
Gas Ferry Road
Bristol
BS1 6TY

Tel: 0117 926 0680

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Awards

  • Visit EnglandCode of Practice Code of Practice 2011
  • Regional and Miscellaneous Rough Guide to Accessible Britain - Best Heritage Venue 2010
  • Regional and Miscellaneous British Travel Awards Best Theme Park / Visitor Attraction - Silver 2009
  • Visit England Enjoy England - Outstanding Customer Service of the Year 2009
  • Visit England Enjoy England Business Tourism Award 2010

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