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Five reasons to visit this October half-term!

Young boy dressed up in a rat mask

Brunel’s ss Great Britain is the stinkiest family day out this autumn.

Explore the gruesome side of Victorian history at Brunel’s ss Great Britain. New for 2016, costumed characters, soundscapes and stupendous stenches, including stale ale and sweaty laundry, have been added below deck in Steerage!

Third-class had to endure months at sea packed into hot, noisy and smelly steerage cabins with rats and thieves as bunk buddies. Gossip, gambling and getting into scrapes were all part of the daily grind and there was nothing but ship’s biscuits to snack on.

Here are five ways kids and adults alike can experience the gruesome side of Victorian life:

  • New third class Steerage experience: What’s that smell? Families brave enough to go below deck can expect gross and ghastly smells like sweaty, dirty laundry and stale ale.
  • The Ragged Victorians, 29 & 30 October Watch out ‘The Ragged Victorians’ are taking over the dockyard this half-term! Families can bump into unsavoury characters from the Victorian lower classes such as a rat catcher, a fisherman’s wife and a docker.
  • Get crafty, Daily: Kids can make scary rat masks before scurrying around Steerage snapping terrifying selfies. Beware of the ship’s cat!
  • Mysterious Tales, Monday 24 October to Friday 28 October: Venture on board to discover the story of the mysterious disappearance of Captain Gray. Younger kids can join the ship’s daily spooky storytelling for a spine-tingling tale inspired by sailor’s superstitions.
  • Halloween Spooky Ship, 29 October Spend a hair-rising evening exploring Brunel’s ss Great Britain and settle in for a good, old-fashioned Victorian fright-fest this Halloween. In association with Bristol Old Vic, explore the ship as she eerily comes to life but watch out for characters lurking in the shadows.

Tickets cost £14 per adult, £8 per child (5-17 years old) and under 4s go free. For further information, visit Bristol Old Vic’s Halloween Spooky Ship event costs £9.50-£14.00 (plus booking fee). All other half-term special events are in addition to exploring the ship, Dry Dock and Dockyard Museum and are included in the usual admission price.


For more information, interview requests, images or quotes please contact:

Dominic Rowe, PR & Communications Officer: 0117 926 0680 ext. 219 Email:

Laura Hesketh, PR & Communications Assistant: 0117 926 0680 ext. 410 Email:


Editor’s notes

About Brunel’s ss Great Britain:

Brunel’s ss Great Britain is the world’s first great ocean liner and the most innovative steam ship of her time. Launched in 1843, this iron-hulled steamship revolutionised travel and set new standards in engineering, reliability and speed. Today, Brunel’s ss Great Britain is Bristol’s no.1 visitor attraction (as voted by the public on Trip Advisor) and home to the Brunel Institute, housing one of the world’s finest maritime and Brunel collections.

Please note, for brand continuity, the attraction is ‘Brunel’s ss Great Britain’, the ship herself is the ‘ss Great Britain’, the charity which manages and maintains the ship is the ‘ss Great Britain Trust’ and the trading branch of the charity is ‘ss Great Britain Trading Ltd.’. The ‘ss’ is always written in lower case or small caps; or in a smaller font size when only capitalisation is available.

Brunel’s ss Great Britain has won over 30 major awards covering heritage, tourism, conservation, access, education, venue hire and customer service; including:

  • 3* in Michelin Guide to Great Britain, 2012
  • Rough Guide to Accessible Britain, 2010
  • England’s Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, 2007
  • UK Museum of the Year 2006