Talk:SS Great Eastern

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I'm really tired of hearing about ships "weighing" so much. Did she displace 32000 tons? Then somebody needs to explain the 18000 ton figure; was it dwt or grt? (& try & explain that in 6 words or less...) Trekphiler 16:33, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

I'd still like to see this cleaned up a bit. Her displacement is listed as 32,000 tonnes but then she's compared to other ships of a given "tonnage." Displacement and tonnage (whether gross or net) are two different things. I suspect the 32,000 is gross tonnage, not displacement. Rees11 (talk) 16:22, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
I did a little research and many sources list her tonnage as 18,915 and her displacement as 32,160 tons, so I've put the figures into the infobox. Salmanazar (talk) 20:23, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for digging that up. I've changed the opening paragraph too so we're comparing gross tons to gross tons, not displacement to gross tons. Rees11 (talk) 22:52, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
I may have made a slipup. While the figure of 32,000+ tons displacement has many references, so does the figure of 25,500 tons - such as two contemporary works[1][2] - one actually specifies it is "load displacement". I'm not sure where the larger figure has been derived from. Salmanazar (talk) 11:34, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
25,500 would make more sense than 18,000 for gross tonnage if the total displacement is 32,000. I think part of the problem is that a lot of these terms had no standard definition back in the day. I think "load displacement" would be like what we now call "net tonnage," but I'm not an expert. Rees11 (talk) 12:40, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

I have been checking a number of websites and found no reference to 32000t. However the Science Museum in London indicates 27000t displacement for the Great Eastern, as well as the following website: (talk) 10:15, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

Hard reading[edit]

This sentences: "The two men disagreed on many details. It was Brunel's final great project, as he collapsed after being photographed on her deck, and died only ten days later, a mere four days after Great Eastern's first sea trials." are difficult to understand. I think it should be rewritten. I can't understand how has collapsed Adomas 18:20, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Is there something missing?[edit]

This paragraph seems to blend one topic into the next quite awkwardly:

"The maiden voyage from Southampton to New York began on 17 June 1860. Among the 35 passengers, eight officials and a crew of 418, were two journalists, Zerah Colburn and Alexander Lyman Holley. The vessel was sold for £25,000 (her build cost has been estimated at £500,000) and converted into a cable-laying ship."

I'm sure other things must have happened between the start of her maiden voyage and being sold as a cable ship. I don't know the history of this ship but I would be interested if someone else could fill in the gaping hole in this article.

Huge gaping hole[edit]

She sailed on the UK-Australia run carrying large numbers of emigrants, as well as numerous other unsuccessful commercial ventures. Her two most successful jobs were as a troopship (possibly for the troubles in India), and laying the first oceanic cables. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:40, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

I don't think Great Eastern ever visited Australia. You may be confused with Great Britain which visited Australia many times.Eregli bob (talk) 10:30, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
She was intended for the Australlian route, but used far too much coal Lugnad (talk) 11:40, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Third voyage complement[edit]

"full complement of 400 passengers" makes no sense. The "complement" would normally be the crew, which is listed at 418. Passenger capacity is listed as 4000, so 400 would not be "full." Rees11 (talk) 01:51, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

This really makes no sense now: "with 35 paying passengers, eight company "dead heads" (non-paying passengers), and 418 crew". The ship had 418 people running the ship? Even the Titanic only had 800, I can't see the Great Eastern having over 400. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:51, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Titanic did not have rigging, and was the product of a much later era. Given the size of Great Eastern and the time, I don't think the 418 is too many. Will check warships and such of the time, brb. Syrthiss (talk) 12:55, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
The Imperial German cruiser SMS_Kaiser_(1875), which was a smaller ship by displacement, had a similar number of crewmen. Syrthiss (talk) 13:05, 20 December 2011 (UTC)


At one point it says Scott Russell calculated the necessary power at 600kW, then later it says the installed power was 6MW. This is a factor of ten and seems a large discrepancy. Rees11 (talk) 03:09, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

These measurements were six times larger than any ship afloat[edit]

Rilly? (fotoguzzi) (talk) 02:04, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

That puzzled me too. Looking at the preceeding "Largest Passengership" SS Great Britain, it seems the measurements are six times larger by volume. I'll add that to the article, but someone might check that it actually holds (I don't know if SS Great Britain was the largest ship afloat at that time). (talk) 03:47, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

I remember reading taht there is a dock in Milford haven that was constructed to accomodate the Great Eastern. If so this would give a clear idea of her size. Does anyone know if it still exists? — Preceding unsigned comment added by MikeC33 (talkcontribs) 16:16, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

"Because of this accident, some have claimed that the Titanic disaster was caused by diminishing safety standards of the late 19th century . . ."[edit]

This reads like a non-sequitur. Wouldn't caution tend to result from a L70,000 boo-boo? Also, was not the pilot to blame for running over a rock? (fotoguzzi) (talk) 02:06, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

The cited source does not support the statement. It discusses the accident, discussed the competitive pressures, but makes no claim relating diminishing safety standards to the accident (which, after all, was a good example of the additional margin of safety which a double hull provides). I therefore have removed the sentence. Kablammo (talk) 02:30, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

opened to the public at 25 cents a time[edit]

What is it that this means? (fotoguzzi) (talk) 02:10, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

It means that the public were allowed to visit the ship while it was in port if they paid $0.25. I hope that helps! --Jerry (talk) 09:47, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Launch problems caused by Brunel ignoring Russell's (and others') advice[edit]

I've just read "Isambard Kingdom Brunel - Engineering Knight Errant" by Adrian Vaughan in which the author points out that Brunel himself decided to reject Russell's proposal that the ship should be built in a dry dock and then rejected Russell's proposed method of launching from a slip (based on greased wood) for a metal-on-metal system which Brunel had developed. Overall, the biography portrays Brunel as a self-centred egotist who was a very poor delegator, second guessing every decision and constantly changing plans.

The book also suggests that the alleged discrepancy in the amount of iron used wasn't, in fact, as serious as the article suggests and that the explosion on the ship's maiden voyage was caused by the design of the boiler water pre-heating system. Brunel had insisted on using the faulty design and ignored advice from better qualified nautical and mechanical engineers (Brunel was a civil engineer, of course) that the design was dangerous.

I would recommend the biography to anyone who is interested in Brunel: it is based on primary sources, many of which are quoted. But I'm afraid that story it portrays of the building of the Great Eastern shows Brunel in a very bad light. However he was seriously ill throughout the construction and this may explain some of his behaviour. --Jerry (talk) 09:47, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

SS Great Eastern was not broken up 1889![edit]

I am sure the SS Great Eastern was not broken up in 1889 as stated and has been restored and is moored in Bristol Docks as a 'museum'. There can be found plenty of history of this ship at the library of The Institution of Civil Engineers, 1 Great George Street, LONDON. It was towed back from the Falklands(?) a few years ago where it had been 'resting' for many years and restored by volunteers at Bristol Docks. Retired civils (talk) 19:32, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

That would be the SS Great Britain. SS Great Eastern was indeed broken up. Benea (talk) 19:56, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

Does anyone know exactly where she was broken up? I have heard Birkenhead but where? Tks — Preceding unsigned comment added by MikeC33 (talkcontribs) 16:15, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Rock Ferry Benea (talk) 17:12, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

engines and riveting[edit]

There was a technical comment some years ago, source now unknown, about the combination of paddles and propellor. The race or wake from the paddles disturbed the water flow to the extent that the propellor didn't provide the thrust that it should.

The story of the riveter sealed inside a watertight compartment won't die down. LTC Rolt wrote a book about the "Great Eastern" having interviewed Birkenhead people who had broken this ship up. He doesn't even mention any such story.

Having been employed as a riveter some forty years ago I am firmly of the opinion that it is impossible to rivet somebody in acompartment. Riveters work as part of a team with the apprentice (child labour) heating the rivets outside the compartment. Any body missing would be immediately noticed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Adele Hugo[edit]

There is a citation for Adele Hugo on the Great Eastern here (on p544.): Vines, Lois D. (2000) From Film to Reading and Writing: L'Histoire d'Adèle H., The French Review, Vol. 73, No. 3 (Feb., 2000), pp. 539-548 Published by: American Association of Teachers of French Best wishes, (Msrasnw (talk) 13:25, 10 June 2010 (UTC))

So then my question becomes: as we have no mention of 'famous' passengers really anywhere else in the article, does Adele Hugo need mentioning? Does she need such a grandiose statement such as

"(in his second voyage, the ship also had a exceptional passenger: Adele Hugo, daughter of the famous French writer Victor Hugo, who fled from his father to achieve his unfortunate dreams of love and independence)"

and does that grandiose statement need to be in the section on the sale of the Great Eastern instead of the section on the second voyage? It just seems to me to be outside the scope of the article. Syrthiss (talk) 13:32, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't know but I do kind of like the noted passenger angle on ships. I made a little article on Hikawa Maru and then we got to famous passengers: Charlie Chaplin and Kano Jigoro (founder of Judo). This wide scope is, I think, why Wikipedia is so nice. It links ships in a wider context. Not just technical detail... and Adele Hugo's (The Story of Adele H.) story is interesting in itself. Best wishes, (Msrasnw (talk) 13:38, 10 June 2010 (UTC))

explain the cannons on deck[edit]

there is a photo of her deck showing cannons. was this from her troopship days? anyone know of this detail? i'd never heard that she was armed. Cramyourspam (talk) 17:21, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

She definitely carried cannons, and there are accounts of them being fired as a salute Lugnad (talk) 17:39, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
They're big though, bigger than generally used for saluting. They also look rather antiquated for cannon of that period. Could they be for fog signalling? Looking at the rest of the deck, isn't that the cable runway used for the cabling trips, which would help date the photo. Andy Dingley (talk) 17:43, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
not that antiquated for mid-19th century launch. there are others in the background too. don't need more than one for fog/signal/salute use, right? it is odd. Cramyourspam (talk) 23:12, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Anti-piracy measure? Just guessin'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

They were sticking cannons on ships all the way up to the early 1900's due to concerns over piracy. Now they just mount machine guns. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:54, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

At the time the picture was taken she was operating as a cable laying ship, does it make any sense that a portion of the deck be dedicated to space for canon? or that offensive weaponry would be needed while operating in the North Atlantic? Of my knowledge the only pirate of note to operate in the North Atlantic was Black Bart Roberts even then that was over 100 years prior. Storing and handling gunpowder by a civilian ship and crew not designed to trained to handle such things seems like a greater liability. I'm just wonder why there was such a great incentive to arm such a ship. Perhaps it was cheaper to insure a ship with defensive weaponry regardless of actual threat of piracy?

Best explanation so far is that picture was from its troop ship days, could we verify this and add it to the picture so people are not confused?

would anyone be able to figure out how many cannons the ss great eastern could be fitted with on either side like a man o war

File:Great Eastern (1858).JPG Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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Scott Russell[edit]

John Scott Russell was an experienced shipbuilder and a founder member of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects. Had Brunel allowed Scott Russell to get on with building the ship it would probably have been completed on time.

As the launch day approached the publis were increasingly identifying the ship with Scott Russell rather than Brunel, an intolerable situation for Brunel. So the latter began to increasingly require alterations made which added to time and cost, delaying the launch.AT Kunene (talk) 11:43, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

I look forward to your sourcing of this with eager anticipation. Andy Dingley (talk) 14:09, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Size comparison to other ships?[edit]

It would be nice if there would be a photo comparing it's size to, say, the Titanic or other ships on a real ratio. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:33, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

# of funnels[edit]

The Great Eastern, while impressive and unusual with five funnels, is not unique. Sporting more were several French armored cruisers, one example of which is the Edgar Quinet class:


According to a recent TV broadcast there is a search underway to see if there are still any remains of this ship on the Birkenhead beach where this ship was broken up. — Preceding unsigned comment added by AT Kunene 123 (talkcontribs) 12:33, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Liverpool Football Club[edit]

AS LFC was not founded until 1892, it is not possible that the club bought the pole. More likely is that it was bought by Everton and inherited by Liverpool when Everton left for Goodison.