Ship building


  • Intro

    Ship-building played a central role in the rise of British industry. Britain was the most powerful trading nation in the world, exporting goods all around its Empire. To a large extent, this success depended upon fast, reliable steamship services, supported by coaling and supply stations all over the world. 


    Engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s innovative passenger ship the Great Eastern, made of iron, driven by propeller and powered by steam, was launched in Blackwall in 1858. She was the largest ship ever built, and had the capacity to carry 4000 passengers around the world without refuelling. This illustration from a contemporary guidebook shows the ship in construction. By the end of the century ship-building and other heavy engineering had mostly moved to the north-east of England, the south of Wales and the Clyde in Scotland, where supplies of coal and iron were closer to hand.


    Shelfmark: 7461.a.54.

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