PSS 'Great Eastern', 1853.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Watercolour drawing by John Scott Russell, scale 1:96. This famous steamship, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) for the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, was the largest vessel afloat until she was broken up in 1888. Built of iron at Millwall (London) in 1853-1858, she was 692 feet long, and had accommodation for 4000 passengers. Limitations of contemporary technology necessitated the employment of both paddle-wheels and a screw propeller. Designed with the passenger trade to Australia and the Far East in mind, the Great Eastern made her maiden voyage, across the Atlantic, in 1860. She was not a success as a liner, but between 1865 and 1873, did valuable work laying submarine cables, including the first transatlantic telegraph.