Launch ramp of the SS Great Eastern


Napier Ave, Isle of Dogs, London E14 3TD

In 1851 engineering wunderkind Isambard Kingdom Brunel (and I mean if you were given that name and didn’t accomplish something famous, what a waste!) sketched what would become the SS Great Eastern. It was designed to travel further without fuel stops and be larger than any other ship.

As an engineering feat, it is notable for it’s novel double-hull design. As a talking point, the cost, deaths of riveters working on the ship and lack of commercial success have marred it’s history.

31 January 1858 it is believed the SS Great Eastern was launched from this site in the Docklands. By 1888 it was resigned to scrap and was broken up in Mersey the following year.

However, what I like is the remaining evidence of the hard work and optimism of Victorian engineering and the reminder of the brutal conditions in which people were forced to realise others’ dreams.