Segments in this Video

The Great Ship: London, 1852 (02:45)


Isambard Kingdom Brunel and William Jacomb are raising funds for the "Great Eastern." Brunel describes how the ship will be constructed.

Eastern Steam Navigation Company, 1852 (03:16)

Brunel hopes for financing, but some wonder if the ship will even float. The prolific engineer has a bad reputation among lenders.

SS Great Eastern (03:51)

The ship enters the design phase in May of 1853 under naval architect John Scott Russell. Russel and Brunel disagree on how to get the ship into the water after it is built.

Shipyard Fire (02:06)

On September 10, 1853, Russell’s shipyard catches fire, destroying valuable plans for the SS Great Eastern. The fire pushes Russell into a financial crisis he keeps from Brunel.

Construction Begins (05:17)

Five months after the fire, the shipyard is rebuilt. Russell and Brunel often disagree, but progress is slowly made on the ship. Construction requires massive amounts of man power; even children are employed.

Europe's Biggest Attraction (03:13)

Russell’s shipyard becomes the biggest attraction in Europe; it draws royals to the scene. Tensions rise as Brunel suspects Russell is keeping secrets.

Russell's Secrets (03:35)

After Brunel’s harsh accusations of Russell turn out to be true, all construction on the Great Eastern comes to a halt. As his health continues to decline, Brunel’s mind slips to a dark place.

Race to Finish (04:07)

Construction on the SS Great Eastern restarts and Brunel decides to keep Russell on staff, but he must be supervised. When a riveter falls to his death, the overworked men begin to believe the ship is jinxed.

Launch Day for the SS Great Eastern (04:06)

Despite Brunel’s wishes, an enormous crowd gathers on the day of the ship’s launch. The crowd intensifies Brunel’s humiliation when a launch drum spins out of control, injuring John Donovan; Donovan’s wounds lead to his death.

From Land to Sea (04:20)

Brunel is embarrassed by the failure of his project and regrets building the ship. After ninety days of pushing, the SS Great Eastern splashes into the water.

Brunel's Health (03:17)

To improve his health, Brunel sojourns to Egypt leaving Russell to care for the SS Great Eastern. When Brunel returns home, he suffers a stroke and becomes paralyzed.

Great Accident (02:52)

After Brunel’s stroke, the SS Great Eastern sets off on its maiden voyage. Disaster strikes on board when a mysterious explosion kills five crew members. Later, the accident is attributed to Russell.

SS Great Eastern Legacy (03:50)

Devastated by the terrible accident and failure of his ship, Brunel dies from his long-term illness. The SS Great Eastern is a commercial failure but an engineering success. Brunel is now known as one of the greatest engineers of all time.

Credits: The Great Ship (00:60)

Credits: The Great Ship

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The Great Ship

Part of the Series : Seven Wonders of the Industrial World
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



In the early 1850s, Isambard Kingdom Brunel dreamed of creating the largest ship ever built. The project was fraught with disaster and tragedy, but the ship was to become one of the crowning achievements of the Victorian age by carrying the first transatlantic telegraph cable to link Europe and America.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL141232

ISBN: 978-1-64198-152-1

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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