The Home of Brunel's SS Great Britain

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was one of the 19th century engineering giants. His achievements, many of which are still part of our everyday lives and landscape, are a lasting testament to his far-sighted genius. We are here at Bristol to visit the City and The Great Western Dockyard, where Isambard Brunel's SS Great Britain is on display.

Brunel's SS Great Britain is one of the most important historic ships in the world. When she was launched in 1843, she was called 'the greatest experiment since the Creation'. By combining size, power and innovative technology, Brunel created a ship that changed history with a screw type propeller. His vision for the SS Great Britain made her the great-great-grandmother for all modern ships.

Errol sharing the Brunel story with us, as we wait to enter the Dockyard.



Brunel’s steamship the SS Great Britain’s, launched in 1843 was the largest ship in the world. She was also the first screw-propelled, ocean-going, iron-hulled steam ship – a truly revolutionary vessel and fore-runner of all modern shipping. Today we think all vessels were always propeller driven, but Brunel’s SS Great Britain was the first.

Designed initially for the emerging trans-Atlantic luxury passenger trade, the ship carried 252 first and second class passengers and 130 crew. The SS Great Britain typifies Brunel’s innovative approach to engineering, and also marks the beginnings of international passenger travel and world communications.

Stewart Tennet, Eroll's son in law, has a company that installs humidity and air temperature controls . He worked on the SS Great Britain for several months installing the air handling system within the hull. So that when you walked down below the hull you did not see rusted steel or dried out timber.


Garrett Harder with his handlebar mustache makes a great similarity to Brunel, as both are in top hats. Garrett will soon be an Architectural Graduate from UNM. Who knows maybe the influence of the Great Isambard Brunel willrub off on him; even if a couple of hundred years separates them.

Garrett and his sister, Raulin, standing beside the screw propeller of the SS Great Britain to give us a perspective of the size of Brunel's invention.

Too, Garrett was the one accepting the challenge of climbing the ropes to the mast of the ship. Oh! now nice it would be to be young again.

ˆEnlarge #1; Enlarge #2; Enlarge #3

The Harder Family arriving to board the SS Great Britain and sail the Atlantic to the New Country.

We left the Great Western Dockyard and boarded an Avon River Ferry for sightseeing. Meet our Bristol Channel Pilot and his lovely Co-Captain. Two cute kids!


Bristol on the River Avon about 8 miles upstream from the sea, thus the Bristol Channel. The tide floods up the river and when it reaches Bristol is about 30 feet deep. It then held there by giant lock gates to create what is known as the Floating Harbour. These days the harbour is mainly recreational, the port is down at the river mouth with docks on both sides  called Avonmouth and Royal Portberry. 

We are getting ready to enjoy and photograph the wonders of the River Avon on Bristol Channel.


This is an exact replica of  the Matthew in which John Cabot set sail from Bristol in 1497. His mission was to discover a route to Asia. Instead he made landfall on what became known the Noth American continent . He called  the place he landed “Newfoundland” (now Canada) and claimed it for England. He returned  safely to Bristol and planned a second voyage which left in 1498 hoping to find Japan. He never returnerd and the result of that journey is unknown. Some believe that he was the first European to set foot in North America.

In 1997, 500 years after the first voyage, this replica of the Matthew sailed to Newfoundland and back to Bristol.  It is now a tourist attraction in Bristol docks.


A very artistic draw bridge allowing entrance to a private riverside apartment area.


Headquarters of Lloyds Bank


The iconic bridge, crossing the River Avon, was designed by Brunel in 1829. At the time it had the longest span of any bridge in the world, but his original design was rejected on the advice of Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834). An improved version, complete with Egyptian-influenced sphinxes and hieroglyphs was accepted.

Sadly, the project was abandoned due to a lack of funds, and the bridge was not completed until 1864 after Brunel’s passing.


This photograpy was included to give you a prespective of the valley that the Bruel Bridge spands..


I couldn't help but include this photo of the suspension system for this bridge. Remember that this was in the days of forged steel and each piece was basically hand built. Marvelous.

Hey, this is a group of "Winners"!


In early afternoon we arrived in Wells and at the Swan Hotel, where we would enjoy the flavor of quaintness for the next three nights

Soon to be added to this plaque will be the name of the "Chandler Family".

Fantastic, as we'll now have three delightful nights at the historical Swan Hotel to enjoy the charms of the City of Wells, England's smallest City.

Come on Willie sing us another verse, and we’ll move on down the road. 

Norm & Dottie