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Discovery Talks

Brunel's SS Great Britain

Crew of ship at San Francisco 1883-85

Various dates and various times

Find out what life was like on board the SS Great Britain for passengers and crew, with these volunteer led talks. 

Discover what the Victorians did for work and play; find out about the tasks they performed, what living conditions were like on board and what they did with their free time.

Talks will last approximately 20 minutes and are included in the price of admission.

The Seaman’s tale

More dates coming soon

Seamen operated and maintained the ship’s sails, working aloft in all weathers. Find out more about this hard and dangerous job, and find out what sailors did in their spare time.

The Idler’s tale


20, 26 October 2018

Idlers were the men and women who looked after the ship and her passengers. Discover the duties of the surgeon, the stewards and stewardesses, and find out who looked after the animals on board.

The Engineer’s tale


19, 23 October 2018

Working in the ship’s engine room was hot and dangerous work. Find out more about the engineers, firemen and trimmers whose job it was to keep the engine running and the furnaces burning.

The Captain’s tale

More dates coming soon

This talk covers stories of the Captains who sailed this famous ship 32 times round the world. Discover what it was like to be the master of this unique vessel - hear stories of success, failure and tragedy, and learn why the SS Great Britain was eventually abandoned in the Falkland Islands 8,000 miles from home.

Gold Talks


22, 24 October 2018

These talks tell the story of the first Australian voyage and recount the experiences of some of the passengers on board whose individual tales include murder, mystery, life changing success and spectacular failure.

Dry Dock Tour


More dates coming soon

Hear about how the Dry Dock was originally used and how it’s a key part of Bristol’s heritage.

Dockyard Talks


More dates coming soon

Learn how the process of building the revolutionary SS Great Britain led to the construction of the Great Western Dockyard, a pioneer of the integrated dockyard.

Surgeon's Tale


27, 28, 29, 30, 31 October 2018

1, 2, 3, 4 November 2018

Find out about the crew responsible for the good health and hygiene of all those aboard the SS Great Britain.

Incredible Journey


17, 18, 25 October 2018

8, 9 November 2018

Find out about the SS Great Britain’s epic 84-year final voyage back home to her birthplace.