Destination UK

A visit to the SS Great Britain in Bristol

Posted on
December 15, 2018

We last visited Bristol back in 2016 and fell in love with the vibrant city and there was one attraction that we wanted to visit, but sadly ran out of time – the SS Great Britain.

Now, with Kian at university in Bristol, we have an excuse to visit more and when we headed there last month, I made a plan of places to go and the SS Great Britain was top of my list.

The SS Great Britain was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel,  one of the world’s most pioneering engineers – surveyor of the Great Western Railway, architect of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, digger of the Thames Tunnel and promoter of the screw propeller and although the ship is the focal point of the visit, there is so much more to see, do and learn.

So why is the SS Great Britain so important?

When the SS Great Britain was launched in 1843, she was hailed as one of the most significant innovations in maritime history. By combining size, power and innovative technology, including designing a new screw propeller, these key innovations created a ship that changed history.

The first thing that struck me on our visit, is how well presented the ship is, with luggage and personal belongings all looking like it is being ready to be loaded. Although the historic ship is in the dry dock she was built in, she looks as if she is floating on water from path, yet you can go beneath the ‘sea’ in the dry dock for amazing views you would never normally see.

SS Great Britain

It is ‘under the sea’ where you can see how impressively huge the ship is and the kids started busily exploring, looking for clues to answer the questions in their quiz.

It was then onto the Museum which is packed full of artefacts and interactive exhibits for adults and children to get their hands on. The kids were especially drawn to sailing the ship, although I did have to remind them that the idea was to sail away from the Lighthouse – not towards it.

Sail Away Kids

For lovers of dressing up, there was also the chance to dress as a passenger from 1843 and take your own very special boarding pass.

From the museum, it is then time to board the ship, to get an idea of what life might have been like onboard for the passengers.

Isaac was desperate to “Go Aloft” and climb the rigging, which takes you over 25 metres above ground level, but sadly it wasn’t quite tall enough – you need to be 1.4m.

We made do with wandering around the ship, which has been restored to its former glory with rooms being furnished to how it would have been back then and the kids found their toilets very amusing, particularly one that was “occupied”!

They struggled to comprehend how people could have lived in such small cabins  and sleep in the tiny bunk beds – even they struggled to get in one, never mind an adult.

From the ship it was then on to the new Being Brunel exhibition, a celebration of everything Brunel; from a top hat wearing, cigar smoking work obsessive to a thoughtful genius determined to push the boundary with every project.

You are positively encouraged to don a top hat as you enter the museum and are immediately greeted by three talking pictures, sharing anecdotes about Brunel.

You not only learn about his successes, but also his failures too like the South Devon Atmospheric Railway………it’s a very bumpy ride!!

A visit to the SS Great Britain is a fascinating day out for all the family. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids happy and entertained and I strongly recommend you borrow their activity bag for added fun.

A family ticket to the SS Great Britain costs £45, plus book online for a 5% discount.

Disclaimer: We were guests of Visit Bristol for the purpose of a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

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16 Comments
  1. Reply

    kumamonjeng

    December 16, 2018

    What a fun day for the kids, love there are plenty of activities to keep the kid active and entertained. It certainly wake up the kids’ imagination.

  2. Reply

    Anosa

    December 16, 2018

    What a lovely way to step back in history, adding this to my list on my next visit to Bristol

  3. Reply

    Monidipa Dutta

    December 16, 2018

    This place has changed a little since 2013. But still gives off that lovely vibe. Seems you had a great time there…

  4. Reply

    Ivelisse Estes

    December 16, 2018

    Omg those kids are adorable! But I love how there are plenty of activities for all ages.

  5. Reply

    Dena Jayne

    December 16, 2018

    This looks like a fun and cool place to visit. Looks like the kids loved it x

  6. Reply

    Angela Milnes

    December 16, 2018

    wow, this looks really awesome. They have really made this a family friendly venue. Can’t wait to visit ourselves.
    Ang XX

  7. Reply

    Yeah Lifestyle

    December 16, 2018

    We have not been to Bristol but I know for certain my kids would enjoy a visit to the SS Great Britain as well as the museum as its so informational and educational too

  8. Reply

    Jasmine Hewitt

    December 17, 2018

    i’ve never been to Bristol. This looks like something fun to see though

  9. Reply

    Kirsty

    December 17, 2018

    Brunel was a true genius. The way in which this ship is crafted is beautiful. I love the idea of being able to see the bottom through glass. It’s a great learning experience for the children and I love how they could dress up and go back in time. I’ll admit I would struggle with the small spaces that the sailors had to live in!

  10. Reply

    Jenni

    December 17, 2018

    I love places like these that teach the little ones about history but make it fun and encourage them to take part

  11. Reply

    Yaya

    December 17, 2018

    These days out are so enjoyable. I really like immersive museums for the kids. It teaches them so much and helps them be more empathetic.

  12. Reply

    Victoria

    December 18, 2018

    This place sounds amazing, so fun and educational too. I have never heard about the SS Great Britain before. £45 for a family ticket these days isn’t bad either.

  13. Reply

    WhatLauraLoves

    December 18, 2018

    What a great place to visit. If you’re ever in the North East, check out the historic quay in Hartlepool as it sounds quite similar so I think you’d like it xxx

  14. Reply

    Laura Morningstar

    December 18, 2018

    This looks like a great day out, I think our mini engineers would love to see this.

  15. Reply

    Nailil

    December 19, 2018

    What an awesome museum experience. It looks like a fun place for little ones.

  16. Reply

    Euro Travel Coach

    December 26, 2018

    We absolutely loved our visit to the SS Great Britain in Bristol! It is a fascinating museum with terrific history and exhibits. It’s great that our ticket is good for a year, so when we visit our daughter in Bristol, we are able to return! This is terrific for both adults and kids. We learned so much. Great read on a wonderful place to visit in Bristol!

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KARA GUPPY
Bournemouth

Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog chelseamamma.co.uk