Fred Dibnah, a long time steam enthusiast, presents the history of steam power in Britain from the early beam engines up to modern steam turbines used in electrical power generation.
Runtime: 30 minutes
Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam - SS Great Eastern - Netflix
SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall Iron Works on the River Thames, London. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers from England to Australia without refuelling. Her length of 692 feet (211 m) was only surpassed in 1899 by the 705-foot (215 m) 17,274-gross-ton RMS Oceanic, and her gross tonnage of 18,915 was only surpassed in 1901 by the 701-foot (214 m) 21,035-gross-ton RMS Celtic. The ship's five funnels were rare. These were later reduced to four. Brunel knew her affectionately as the “Great Babe”. He died in 1859 shortly after her ill-fated maiden voyage, during which she was damaged by an explosion. After repairs, she plied for several years as a passenger liner between Britain and North America before being converted to a cable-laying ship and laying the first lasting transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866. Finishing her life as a floating music hall and advertising hoarding (for the famous department store Lewis's) in Liverpool, she was broken up on Merseyside in 1889.
Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam - Great Eastern Rock incident - Netflix
Great Eastern left Liverpool on 17 August with 1,530 passengers on board and a substantial amount of freight which increased her draught to 30 ft (9.1 m). Not wishing to enter New York Bay over Sandy Hook bar due to the ship's deep draught, the captain decided to steam up Long Island Sound and moor at Flushing Bay. The pilot came on board at 1:30 am and the ship moved slowly ahead. At about 2:00 am 1 mile (2 km) east of Montauk, Long Island a rumble was heard and the ship heeled slightly. The pilot said she had probably rubbed against the “North east Ripps” (later renamed “Great Eastern Rock”). The captain sent an officer down to check for damage and he reported no leaks. The ship had a list to port, but made her way into New York the next day under her own steam. It was discovered that the rock had opened a gash in the ship's outer hull over 9 feet (2.7 m) wide and 83 feet (25 m) long, perhaps 60 times the area of the RMS Titanic's damage. The enormous size of Great Eastern precluded the use of any drydock repair facility in the US, and the brothers Henry and Edward S. Renwick devised a daring plan to build a watertight, 104 by 15 feet (31.7 by 4.6 m) caisson to cover the gash, held in place by chains around the ship's hull. The brothers claimed that it would take two weeks to complete the repairs and said that they would only take payment if successful. The demands of the American Civil War caused delays in getting the iron plates required, and instead of two weeks the repairs took three months at a cost to the company of £70,000. The ship finally sailed from New York for Liverpool on 6 January 1863.