Newest Review: ... nice touch, you are asked to sign yours and then it can be used for a return visit any time for a year afterwards. You are also given a gui... more
A fascinating excursion into British heritage in the heart of Bristol
SS Great Britain (Bristol)
Member Name: giantrobot42
SS Great Britain (Bristol)
Advantages: Excellent presentation, good value, disabled access well provisioned
Disadvantages: None, I loved it!
Like a lot of folk around the Bristol area, I suspect many are aware of the SS Great Britain but only a few have actually visited. So to help rectify this, the wife and I decided to go along.
It's well signposted on the way into Bristol with the usual brown 'tourist' signs, so it's relatively easy to find. If you are driving alongside the harbour it's hard to miss and you'll soon know if you're on the wrong side of the water! There is pay and display parking nearby so be sure to have some change with you. There is also a ferry for foot passengers from the other side of the harbour but I'm not sure when this runs.
The entrance to the museum is through the gift shop and from here you purchase tickets for entry to the ship and surrounding area. The tickets are printed to look like the original boarding pass which is a nice touch, you are asked to sign yours and then it can be used for a return visit any time for a year afterwards. You are also given a guide to the ship which is handy as it's divided into distinct areas which can be easy to get lost in the first time you go inside.
As you step out from the gift shop, the area around the ship is made up to look like a harbour, the ship itself sits in a dry dock with glass covering the gap between the hull and the harbourside. With a shallow layer of water sitting on the top, this gives the impression that the ship is floating. This looks especially impressive when you descend into the area below the hull. You can take the stairs, or a lift if you are mobility impaired, down the to base of the dry dock. From here you can walk around the hull and view the restoration that's been carried out as well as some of the corrosion which remains. This area is specially air conditioned to help keep the hull rust-free. It does look impressive to view the bulk of the ship towering above you through the glass ceiling.
Going back up to the dockside again, there's a separate building which houses a plethora of exhibits from the ship itself including a huge section of mast which spans the entire length. There's a ships wheel complete with computer simulation for the kids to have a play with and a photo exhibit showing the steps taken to retrieve the ship from where it was abandoned to it's new home in Bristol. From here there's a walkway to the ship itself.
The ship is divided into sections as it would have been back in the day when used for passenger transport. There's the rough and ready third class, slightly better second class and the luxurious first class section. All these sections have been restored with authentic furnishings and it really helps bring the era to life. You can also see where the cargo hold was situated and how it would have been used as well as a view of the impressive engine room. You can also walk around the upper deck but the steps to get there are quite steep. Again, provision has been made for a lift in the ship itself if you need help to get about. There are also loos on board, in authentic style but with modern additions.
There's another walkway leading off the ship which takes you around the other side of the dry dock and back to the shop again. There is a cafe and tearoom which did lovely jacket potatos and cake when we stopped there. Weather permitting, you can sit outside directly overlooking the harbourside and enjoy the views of Bristol.
In summary, I think anyone would enjoy this piece of British history. It appeals to young and old and thanks to investment in access, everyone can get in and out easily. I heartily recommend it!
Summary: A star attraction in Bristol, everyone should see it
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