Ship model, small scale model of the "Great Eastern" Paddle drive, screw drive and rigged with sail.(SB).
The "Great Eastern"at 18915 tonnes, was at the time of her launch (1858) by far the largest ship of her time. She was designed by Isanbard Kingdom Brunel. After a chequered career as a passenger liner with the capacity to carry up to 4000 passengers around the world without refuelling, the "Great Eastern" was refitted as a cable laying ship. In this role she was eminently successful, laying the first lasting transatlantic cable in 1866. In all she laid five transatlantic cables and also cables connecting Aden and Bombay.
In 1852 a contract for a large passenger ship was given by the British Government to the P and O Steam Navigation Company, designed to compete with fast clippers for speed, and to be economically competitive by being able to replace several passenger carrying sailing ships. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the ship at 18,915 tonnes, was by far the largest ship ever built of her time, and had the capacity to carry up to 4000 passengers around the world without refuelling. Building commenced 1st May 1854 at the shipyard of J. Scott Russell & Co., Millwall The ship was finally launched (1858)
sideways into the Thames after proving disastrously expensive to build and launch, which effectively sent the company bankrupt.
The first trials proved catastrophic when a boiler exploded blowing off the forward funnel, killing six crew,wounded others and wrecked the Grand Saloon. The funnel was salvaged by Weymouth Water Company, and was actually used as the container for a water filter unit submerged in a new reservoir. The funnel was finally recovered by Wessex Water when they carried out a major overhaul of the reservoir. The funnel was finally moved to the great britain Museum at Bristol 14/12/2004.
Repaired and refitted, the "Great Eastern" sailed on her maiden voyage to New York 17/06/1860 with 400 crew and 36 passengers. Several more voyages to the US occurred, suffering major damage on one voyage (September 1861) in a severe Atlantic storm ,and on August 1862 running aground on submerged rocks outside New York Harbour . 1863 saw three voyages to New York, but soaring costs forced the "Great Eastern" to be sold to a new company,Great Eastern Steamship Company. The company chartered the ship to the newly formed Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, and had the ship refitted for a new role of cable laying. The ship was highly successful as a cable layer, laying the first lasting transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866, and in all from 1865 to 1874 laying five telegraph cables under the Atlantic from Europe to North America , and others linking Bombay to Aden. At the end of her cable laying career the "Great Eastern" was once again refitted as a passenger liner ,but this was not a commercial success. She was variously used as a showboat, a floating palace/concert hall, and even as an advertising hoarding sailing up and down the Mersey advertising Lewis's department Store, who were at that time her owners.
She was finally broken up for scrap at Rock Ferry on the Mersey in 1889/90. At the time of her break-up, the Liverpool Football Club were looking for a flagpole for their Anfield Ground, and subsequently purchased the topmast of the "Great Eastern" for that purpose. It still stands there today at the Kop end of the ground.