Design for a medal to commemorate the launch of the 'Great Eastern', 1858.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The 'Great Eastern', designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) for the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, was the largest vesel afloat until she was broken up in 1888. The ship was originally to be named the 'Leviathan'. Built of iron at Millwall (London) in 1853-1858, she was 692 feet long, and had accommodation for 4000 pasengers. Limitations of contemporary technology necesitated the employment of both paddle-wheels and a screw propeller. Designed for the pasenger trade to Australia and the Far East, the Great Eastern made her maiden voyage, acros the Atlantic, in 1860. She was not a commercial succes as a liner, but between 1865-1873, did work laying submarine cables, including the first transatlantic telegraph link.