New for summer 2021, Brunel’s SS Great Britain has launched a viewing platform, looking directly onto the Albion; a living, working, authentic dockyard with a long and surprising history. Visitors are promised a unique behind-the-scenes look at the Grade II listed dry dock which dates back to 1820.
The massive dry dock is the largest in Bristol, providing vital repair facilities for large vessels. Visitors can bank on getting a first-hand sneak peek at some truly astonishing vessels.
Located within Bristol’s top-rated visitor attraction and next to the SS Great Britain herself, the attraction will be the first of its kind in the country. Notable ships which have been serviced in the dock so far include the remarkable tall ship, Pelican of London, and the multi award-winning live music boat venue, Thekla.
The operation to manoeuvre Thekla into the 540ft dry dock involved two tugs and the oversight of the Harbourmaster and his team. 173ft long, Thekla is one of the longest ships residing in Bristol’s Floating Harbour – a true spectacle.
For the first time ever, visitors will be able to view the working shipyard from a level, accessible surface. New interpretation signage and knowledgeable volunteers will bring the history and stories of the dock to life.
Kate Rambridge, Head of Interpretation at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, said:
“We are extremely excited to open our new viewing area, giving visitors ‘behind the scenes’ access to the Albion Dock for the first time. This is an opportunity for the museum to open up not just a space, but a conversation with our audiences about the value and significance of the site.”
The ship repair operation is run by experienced maritime manufacturer Martin Childs along with Paul and Steve Beacham who also run Sharpness Shipyard at the head of the Bristol Channel.
“Together with the services already offered by the Underfall Yard and the Bristol Marina, a functioning Albion Dry Dock means Bristol can now support an even broader range of high-quality maritime services. To be giving the public a glimpse of ships being repaired will be a great showcase of the skills and facilities that modern maritime workers have, hopefully inspiring maritime engineers of the future.”