I love the Harbourside in Bristol, because there are so many different places to visit. Previously, we have reviewed; Bristol Aquarium, At-Bristol and M-Shed, which are all within a few minutes walk, or a short ferry ride of each other and provide various options for all-weather entertainment. Our recent visits have all been thanks to Visit Bristol, the go-to site for finding out what's great to do in our fair city, who provided us with a media pass for a few weeks. Today we are reviewing the SS Great Britain, a true icon of Bristol and a magnificent ship. It's a great place to choose when the weather is not at its best, as a surprising amount of it is below decks.
We arrived mid-afternoon, as we had other plans in the morning. This is not something I would recommend if you are paying, as it isn't cheap and you want to allow yourself time to have a good look round, as there's a lot to see. However, it did make for a completely different experience to when we last went a few years ago. As it was a school day (inset for us), and later in the day, there was hardly anyone there, particularly by the time we visited the bottom layer of the ship, where all the staff quarters are. The atmosphere was incredible. There were models of people who would have lived on the ships and mock-ups of what the cabins would have looked like. These details, coupled with the accompanying noises of waves, animals, etc, made it feel like you were really there at the time.
|The Models add Realism|
Another aspect that really appealed to Luke was being able to get close up to the underside of the ship. It really is huge and it's amazing to go right up to it and check out the enormous rudder and hull. Above, there is glass covered in water, to really make you feel like you are underneath the sea. Seeing the iron hull up close really emphasises what an incredible feat of engineering it was for its time and how much history is contained within.
|SS Great Britain Hull and Rudder|
There is so much to see, it's hard to fit it into one blog post, I haven't even mentioned the kitchens, with the sounds of rats (shudder!), or the animal pens and cargo store. On deck, there are all the accoutrements you would expect to find on a working ship, including; rigging, ship's wheel, livestock, and, of course, deck hands! The delightful staff showed Luke how to make the right knot to secure the ship and then he had a go at Quiots, which he was surprisingly good at!
|The Deck of the SS Great Britain|
We stayed until closing and could happily have stayed longer. SS Great Britain is well worth a visit if you have inquisitive children, who like to do more than just look at artefacts from a distance. As well as being thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, this a very educational place to bring children too, althought hey probably won't realise it! A lot of schools cover Isambard Kingdom Brunel as part of the syllabus, or even Victorian life in general and this is a great way to get a feel for life during those times and see what Brunel created. You can even see what he looked like, thanks to a model waiting to be discovered inside. This is a terrible photo. I had no control over the quality, since I am in it!
|Isambard Kingdom Brunel|
After you have finshed looking around the ship, if you've got any energy left, there is a museum, cafe (lovely macaroons!) and gift shop, and even the walkways are decorated to reflect the time the ship was launched. Your ticket entitles you to unlimited return visits for a year from purchase, so you needn't worry if you can't squeeze everything in on the same day.
|The Area around the SS Great Britain ; Full of Authenticity|
Read about another Bristol area attraction here; When Wookey Hole Went Wrong