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Things to see

ss Great Britain IllustrationSee our visitor leaflet and map

Experience the sights, sounds and smells of life on board!

Stroll on the decks and take in the views and the sounds of animals and general bustle of the ship preparing to set sail. Take a look down at the dockside where the cargo, cases and crates are waiting to be loaded.

The ss Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner is about to depart. And you are aboard!

Below decks you can peep inside the luxury cabins of First Class passengers. Eavesdrop on a conversation, dodge the harassed cook in his cramped galley, and marvel at the massive turning engine. Listen to the stories the passengers have to tell. And occasionally be ready to hold your nose!

Before you experience all the sights, sounds and smells on the ship we will take you beneath the waterline. Below the glass ‘sea’ is a fish’s-eye view of the world’s oldest iron hull. State-of-the-art technology keeps the air down there as arid as the Arizona desert to prevent rust attacking the ship’s delicate iron hull.

The Dockyard Museum tells the ss Great Britain’s remarkable story, from her launch in 1843 through a long career as luxury liner, emigrant steam clipper to a super-sized sailing ship carrying coal to San Francisco. You will discover the story of her rescue from the bottom of the South Atlantic and her final triumphant return to Bristol.

Alongside the ship is the Brunel Institute and David MacGregor Library. This world-class maritime library and archive houses thousands of books, documents, plans and objects. Passengers’ original diaries and letters, scale models, and drawings made by Brunel himself are all here. The Institute is open to researchers and members of the public and curators regularly meet visitors to share their favourite items and stories.