Launching of the Great Eastern Steam Ship, Engraved Turban Shell
SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall Iron Works on the Thames. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers from England to Australia without refuelling. Her length of 692 feet was only surpassed in 1899.
Brunel knew her affectionately as the "Great Babe". However, the whole project was fraught with difficulties and tensions between those involved. Scott Russell's company went into bankruptcy as a result of the project and Brunel's health broke down.
Brunel had hoped to conduct the launch with a minimum of publicity but many thousands of spectators had heard of it and occupied vantage points all-round the yard. He was also dismayed to discover that the Eastern Company's directors had sold 3,000 tickets for spectators to enter the shipyard.
As he was preparing for the launch, some of the directors joined him on the rostrum with a list of names for the ship. On being asked which he preferred, Brunel replied, "Call her Tom Thumb if you like". At 12:30 pm Henrietta Hope daughter of the chairman christened the ship Leviathan much to everyone's surprise since she was commonly known as Great Eastern; her name subsequently changed back to Great Eastern in July 1858.
If you require further information on this item you can contact us in a number of ways. Click here to see our contact information.