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Dockyard Museum

Please note: the Dockyard Museum may have restricted access on 16 & 17 October. Please contact us in advance if you have any questions.

The Dockyard Museum takes visitors back in time through the SS Great Britain’s amazing history. As you travel through four different time zones you’ll discover dramatic stories and stunning objects from the ship’s long and adventure-filled life. Paintings, photographs, letters and items - from ship’s bells to graffiti carved by the crew - vividly bring her story to life.

The Dockyard Museum

The journey begins in 1970 with the dramatic salvage operation that saved the ship from abandonment. Archive film captures the excitement and emotion of the homecoming.

As you follow the timeline back through the decades you’ll see how the ship played her part in two World Wars. There’s a section looking at the 1880s when the ship was converted from steam to become a Windjammer. Using the power of the elements she made three voyages to San Francisco.

The journey continues back through the Australian gold rush of the 1850s. The ss Great Britain made 32 voyages carrying emigrants across the world.

You’ll hear about other passengers too. The first All-England cricket team to play in Australia travelled on the SS Great Britaina and Anthony Trollope wrote an entire novel during his voyage from the continent.

The timeline then takes you back to the ship’s years as a luxury liner. Paintings, drawings and reports from the time capture the experiences of passengers, crew and observers. You’ll feel the excitement of her launch in 1843 when thousands crowded the dockside to share the historic moment.

The Museum’s Interactive exhibits add to the experience. Try lifting the giant propeller for a real test of strength!

Pick up a boarding card from the Dockyard Museum with one of 36 characters from the ship’s history and follow in their footsteps, with incredible facts and activities based on the ship’s records and personal diaries. Wander through an authentic Victorian setting and discover how your character lived. Scan the QR code on the back to access a wealth of information about the people of the SS Great Britain with our Global Stories database.

And once you’ve heard her story you’ll be ready to step aboard and meet Brunel’s grand old lady, in all her fully restored glory!