Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Sunday 22nd August
I didn’t sleep well last night so we didn’t wake up till lateish. You may have noticed that we didn’t go to the SS Great Britain yesterday so that was top of the list today however I wanted to get the shower towels washed so that they could dry outside while we were out. Somehow I forgot to press the “reduce time” button on the machine and at 11am Richard was pacing up and down saying that he was going when fortunately the machine stopped. We walked round the harbour on the north side up to Cumberland Basin and then crossed over. We came across a Triathlon – much too difficult for me – and then a rowing regatta – I was exhausted just watching them all! SS Great Britain was just wonderful. I reckon that her stern must be the most photograph rear end in the world!! The ship is sitting in a dry dock and to keep her hull preserved they have put a sheet of glass at ground level and then put water on the top which means it looks as if she is actually sitting in water. When you go down to look at the hull the humidity in the dry dock is kept very high to aid preservation. There is a museum before you go onto the ship which was very interesting but the ship is wonderful. She was designed by Brunel and when launched in 1843 was by far the largest vessel afloat and was immediately successful - on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic she easily broke the previous speed record. However her high costs finally forced her owners out of business when she ran aground on the sands of Dundrum Bay in Northern Ireland in 1846. She was then sold for salvage and repaired. Over the next 24 years Great Britain made 32 voyages round the world, travelled nearly one million miles and carried over 16,000 emigrants to Australia. By the late 1870’s she was showing her age, her engines were removed, and she was converted into a fast three-masted sailing ship. In this unrecognisable guise, the once proud ship transported Welsh coal to San Francisco. On her third trip, however, she ran into trouble around Cape Horn, and was forced to run for shelter in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Damaged as a result of this, she was sold as a coal and wool storage hulk in Port Stanley. She was finally scuttled in 1937. In 1970 an ambitious salvage effort brought her home to Bristol, where today she is conserved in the dry dock where she was originally built. A fascinating old lady of the sea. We did a quick trip round the harbour and then left Bristol in glorious sunshine and made our way back upstream hoping to either stop at Hanham Lock or where we had stayed on Thursday however luck wasn’t with us and we eventually moored up at the end of a water pontoon – naughty but we really had no choice.