The Great Eastern was a giant steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. At the time of her launch in 1858 she was the largest ship in the world.
|The Great Eastern under sail. © NMM|
Although the design of the Great Eastern was groundbreaking, Brunel’s mighty vessel was considered a commercial failure as a passenger liner.
After being laid up in 1864, the Great Eastern was sold for £25,000 (the equivalent of about £1.3 million today), a fraction of its original cost, to a Greenwich-based cable-laying company. This next stage of her career was by far the most successful. From 1865 until 1872 she laid four telegraph cables under the Atlantic, and others to link Bombay and Aden.
By 1872, however, the Great Eastern had been made obsolete by purpose-built cable-laying ships. She ended her career as a floating billboard before being scrapped in 1888.