Oil painting by Edwin Weedon showing the Great Eastern pasing through the Downs; an area of sea off the east coast of Kent between the Straits of Dover and the Thames Estuary. This famous steamship, 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. 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. Originally designed with the pasenger trade to Australia and the Far East in mind, the Great Eastern made her maiden voyage, acros the Atlantic, in 1860.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library