|BCN018||175th Anniversary of the Launch of SS Great Britain||£10.95||Limited Availability|
Issue Date: 19/07/2018
Issue Name: 175th Anniversary of the Launch of SS Great Britain
Producer: Buckingham Covers
This cover from the Maritime series features a picture from the launch day of the Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed SS Great Britain, the most advanced (for its time) passenger steamship. Built for the Great Western Steamship Company's transatlantic service between Bristol and New York, the magnificent ship was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic and is now a listed member of the National Historic Fleet and award winning Museum ship based in Bristol Harbour. It also features a portrait of Brunel. It has a Gold Machin 1st Class stamp with special Bristol '175th Anniversary Launch of SS Great Britain' postmark and a genuine 1/- SS Great Britain stamp from the 1969 British Ships issue with a Brunel special cachet.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel's SS Great Britain
SS Great Britain was a passenger steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. Completed in 1845, SS Great Britain was an innovative vessel, unique in terms of construction and size. At 322ft in length she was more than 100ft longer and 1,000 tons larger than any ship previously built. She was the first to combine an iron hull with screw propulsion and had four decks, including the spar (upper) deck. She had a crew of 120, and could accommodate up to 360 passengers, along with 1,200 tons of cargo and 1,200 tons of fuel.
Like other steamships of the time, SS Great Britain was fitted with secondary sail power, a simple sail plan designed to keep the number of crew required to a minimum. The masts were of iron and the rigging was iron cable (traditionally they were made of hemp). Another innovation was the lack of heavy bulwarks around the main deck, instead an iron railing reduced weight and allowed water run-off.
The iron hull gave the ship much greater structural strength and allowed the ship to be much larger. Ten iron girders installed along the keel, ran from beneath the engines and boiler to the forward section, 6 by 3 inch iron ribs and iron keel plates an inch thick all contributed to a much stronger structure. In total 1,500 tons of iron were used, including engines and machinery.
SS Great Britain was launched on 19 July 1843, with large crowds gathering early in the day, many of whom had travelled to Bristol for the event. Prince Albert arrived for the launch at the Great Western Railway terminus on the Royal Train, conducted by Brunel. He was accompanied by his equerry-in-waiting, personal secretary, the Marquess of Exeter, and Lords Wharncliffe, Liverpool, Lincoln and Wellesley.
On 26 July 1845 Great Britain embarked on her maiden voyage, from Liverpool to New York under Captain James Hosken, with 45 passengers. The ship made the passage in 14 days and 21 hours.
A ship for the wealthy, her interior was opulent with artwork, gold leaf decoration and modern amenities unrivalled by other ships of the day.
SS Great Britain is a hugely important feat of Victorian engineering and is seen as a forerunner of modern ships. Today she is conserved in the Bristol dry dock where she was originally built and is listed as part of the National Historic Fleet.
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