Launch of the Leviathan

21 March 2019


21 March 2019


Read a poem by Joseph Earl James written for Isambard Kingdom Brunel to celebrate the launch of the Great Eastern.

We’ve delved deep into the archive and found a poem celebrating the launch of the Great Eastern.

Originally written in a letter to Brunel from Joseph Earl James:


Respected Sir,

I have taken the freedom of sending you a few lines on the triumph of your success of the launching of the monster ship the Leviathan, having two sons in the Navy I take an interest in naval affairs you will excuse the paper ….scribbled on on the other side as I am short of paper

Yours respectfully

Joseph Earl James, Islington Workhouse


Launch of the Leviathan

Huzza for Englands sons, Britons will may boast

When they can build such ships to guard their coast

Shew her to the nations as the wonder of the world

Victorias pride which stems the tides with flag unfurled

She floats, she floats upon the Thames majestic tide

The Leviathan of Iron, with ponderous hull so wide

The Thames flowing, conveyed her to the distant Nore

With all the pride of Majesty to grace our Naval store

Stupendous Leviathan, how great, thy power sublime

When Vulcans sons and Engineers of skill their works combine

Man’d with brave Tars, her standard is unfurled

And bids defiance to the Tyrants of the world

See her steaming through the boisterous Ocean

Where billows swell in wild commotion

Onwards she dashes through the Atlantic’s heaving surge

With ponderous hull of Iron partially submerged

Ye mariners of England, Victoria’s pride her boast

Who mans her fleets, with honour guards her coast

Propell this great Iron Ship, Old Englands pride

That wafts ten thousand men across the briney tide

Brunel thy mind so great with power at will

Subdues the toughened Iron to thy learned skill

Let merit sound the triumph of great Brunel’s name

And to posterity descend to perpetuate his name


Joseph Earl James

December 10th 1857

Inmate of the Workhouse


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