Great Eastern (1858); Passenger/cargo vessel; Cableship

Scale: unknown. A contemporary full hull model of the ‘Great Eastern’ (1858) a transatlantic cable ship. Model is decked, fully rigged and complete with cable laying equipment, and a plaque inscribed ‘Cable Ship Great Eastern’.

Originally designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as a passenger ship, the ‘Great Eastern’ was built at John Scott Russell’s yard on the Thames at Millwall, and after many technical difficulties, was finally launched 31 January 1858. Measuring 692 feet in length by 83 feet in the beam and a tonnage of 18,915, it was the largest ship in the world and would not be surpassed in length until 1899 by the SS ‘Oceanic’.

Although this ship was considered as groundbreaking in many ways, an iron doubled-bottomed hull driven by sail, screw and paddles, it was a commercial failure as a passenger ship. After being laid up in 1864, it was sold for $25,000 to a cable laying company based at Greenwich, London, and converted as a cable layer as shown by this model.

It was this part of its career that was the most successful as from 1865 to 1872 that its laid four telegraph cables across the Atlantic as well as others linking Bombay to Aden. For the next 12 years the ‘Great Eastern’ was laid up and eventually hired for advertising the Lewis’s department store in Liverpool. From there it undertook several rather unsuccessful trips to Dublin and the Clyde after which it was broken up, a process that took 200 men nearly two years to complete by 1890.

Object Details

ID: SLR0904
Collection: Ship models
Type: Full hull model; Rigged model
Display location: Not on display
Vessels: Great Eastern (1858)
Date made: Circa 1865
People: Baker, Jill Peta
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall model: 444 mm x 1105 mm x 184 mm x 7 kg
Parts: Great Eastern (1858); Passenger/cargo vessel; Cableship

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.