SS Great Britain | Bristol

Bristol is a city built around the water, I mean ever heard of 'ship shape and Bristol fashion'? Well, even that has originated from this area. We are sea people! I am kind of embarrassed at the fact I have lived in Bristol all my life, however, I have never visited the SS Great Britain. I have seen it in the distance every time I catch the bus into town but that's as far as it goes.

Getting There 

Getting to the SS Great Britain couldn't have been easier. You can arrive by train, plane, and automobile. Well, slight exaggeration but close enough! 

If you are arriving by train you will most likely arrive into Bristol Temple Meads with Great Western Railway. Which back in 1833 Isambard Kingdom Brunel so it is like spending the day appreciating his work! Once you arrive at the train station you can catch the Wessex Connect service 506.

Alternatively, First Bus also run a few services that will take you to Hotwells Road and you can catch the Cross-Harbour ferry to the ship.

If you are planning on driving, there is a car park right next door. 

Now the best way and the most fun, in my opinion, is to get there is by Bristol Ferry. This is how we arrived on the day! We caught the ferry in the city center by the Radisson Blu. You can do a little harbor tour en route. There is a 40 or 80-minute cruise and it takes you all around the waterfront and stops off right outside the SS Great Britain. We had a boat day if you couldn't tell!

Great Western Dockyard

On arrival, Mr. B and I were shocked at how big the actual ship is and what the guys here have done with the area! You enter via the gift shop where you purchase your tickets and just outside there is a cafe which has seating outside. We popped into the cafe quickly and it seemed reasonable prices and it has a license if you fancy a beer in the sun on the waterfront you can. What I would like to point out is they can go gluten free sandwiches!!! I feel like they forget us sometimes at attractions as they never seem to have anything for us to eat! 

We wondered around the outside of the shop first, which I loved as it is set up just like it would have been back when it was being built. There were mock 'scenes' such as a horse and carriage which you could sit in the back of for photos if Tiny Human was a little bit older, I know he would of be begging to sit in the back!

You can wonder past lots of barrels and everything else in between. There is a pile of coal Mr. B and I had to stand a shovel obviously! It is a lot harder than it looks.

Dry Docks

I have never been in anything like the dry dock before in my life! It is now Grade 11 listed I believe and has been designed to keep the hull of the ship safe. With the hull being made of iron, it is prone to rust and disintegrates. The dry dock has been designed to keep as much moisture out as possible to preserve it meaning the climate in the dry dock is the same as the Arizona Desert! As soon as you open that door to go down the humidity hits you! You can go down by the steps or there is a lift. 

Once you get to the bottom and wonder around it really hits you how large this ship is and it makes you wonder how on earth did they design and start building it back in  1839?!

Something special about this ship and dry dock in the glass tiled ceiling, it has been flooded slightly with water so the ship looks like it is floating, just like it would back in its heyday when it was sailing the world.

Dockyard Museum

I love a good museum, I always like visiting them! I loved this part of the grounds and learned so much. It is like walking through time and the SS Great Britain's voyages. If you are visiting as a family you can grab a little SS Great Britain passport and stamp it at each section. It was amazing to see what the SS Great Britain got up to in her life. I didn't even know she played a role in the World Wars! And seeing diary entries from passengers were something else too. You even learn about the first All-English cricket team who were traveling to Australia and about the other voyages! She has done a total of 32 worldwide. Obviously, Mr. B and I had to compete in seeing who is the strongest by lifting the huge propeller.

On Board

We started on the Weather Deck and when we visited it was a gorgeous sunny day, you can wander around and pretend the be the captain by the steering wheel which I obviously didn't do for a while! This upper deck is designed to look exactly how it did back in 1845 when it set off to the Big Apple, New York with the very first passengers. The deck is divided into sections where the 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes would have been. My favourite part of the Weather Deck has to be the sky light in the center! You can see straight down into the engine! The newer addition to the ship are the lifts, this meant traveling around with Tiny Human in a pram was so convenient and we could enjoy the day as a family without the worry of it not being accessible.
We popped down to the Promenade Deck which is where the first class passengers would have socialised. We didn't stay in this part long, I can't say why we just didn't. You can meet some of the passengers that would have traveled in first class here.
Remember how I said that Mr. B and I didn't realise how large this was? This was obvious when we went into the Steerage area. We were wondering in circles for a little while and had to retrace our steps to move on! This is where the people traveling in 3rd class would stay. It is so unbelievable cramped I couldn't think of anything worse than traveling around the world and sleeping here! That being said, I'm not first class material either.
Even though there were group trips when we visited, it never once felt cramped! Even when looking around the Galley, Stores, and Bakery. Which I definitely didn't get Tiny Humans pram stuck on a kitchen cupboard door as I didn't notice it was open and you could shut it.
The Engine Room was something else, it holds a full-scale working model of the engine that would have been there originally. Being stood in this room was unbelievable and kind of bizarre. The guys at the SS Great Britain have even made it smell like it would of with coal and oil!

Summer 2017

If you are looking for something to do this Summer, I know how long the 6 weeks holidays feel. I highly suggest a day out at the SS Great Britain, not only can just visit the ship they have lots of activities on too.

From July 22nd to September 03rd there is the Victorian Summer Circus which is brought to you by Cirque Bijou a local group with stunning performances. There is a 'Crossing The Line' performance three times a day at 1230, 1345 and 1500. This is daily and features jugglers, acrobatics and hula hooping. It is an impressive show performed by sailors!

Next to the SS Great Britain you can take part in the daily Circus Skills Workshop which runs between 1400-1600 this is free and adults and children can learn a new skill! Juggling would be good for me! My hand eye coordination is non-existent.

For all you adventurous ones, for just £10 you can Go Aloft!  which is where you can climb the rigging on the ship, just like the Victorian sailors used to! As fun as this sounds, don't think I would be volunteering to do that at see back in the day!

Why not meet the main man himself? Every day you can meet Mr. Brunel and Victorian Passengers. Hear their stories, shake their hands and grab a photo with them on deck. it would make a perfect photo to hang on the wall too.
* We did receive tickets for the SS Great Britain in exchange for an honest post