- After 47 voyages and 88 years working as a luxury transatlantic passenger liner, emigrant steam clipper, cargo ship and, later, a floating store, the SS Great Britain was finally scuttled in the Falkland Islands on 12 April 1937.
- In 1969 a rescue mission costing £150,000 was launched by Ewan Corlett, a British naval architect. The aim was to bring the ship back to Bristol, where it was originally built.
- The SS Great Britain was towed on a giant floating pontoon (raft) across the Atlantic Ocean. The journey was 8,000 miles and took nearly three months.
- This photograph shows the SS Great Britain in July 1970 as it was towed up the River Avon and under the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
- The ship’s return drew an excited crowd of approximately 100,000 people, who came to witness the return of Brunel’s great ship to its Bristol birthplace.
After a successful journey across the Atlantic Ocean, the SS Great Britain was taken off its pontoon, re-floated and towed up the River Avon and under the Clifton Suspension Bridge on 5 July 1970. This event drew a crowd of approximately 100,000 people, excited to see Brunel’s great ship return to Bristol.
This was the first time that Brunel’s ship had ever passed under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, also designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The SS Great Britain left Bristol nearly 20 years before this iconic bridge was completed in 1864.
On 19 July 1970, the ship returned to its birthplace – the Great Western Dockyard – exactly 127 years after it was first launched from the very same spot!
Since 1970, the SS Great Britain has undergone an extensive and ongoing restoration programme, sharing its rich history, and the stories of the passengers and crew who travelled aboard it, with around 175,000 visitors every year.