Built of iron, powered by steam and driven by the screw propeller, Brunel's Great Britain was a radically new type of ship when she first sailed in 1845. Designed to carry passengers in unprecedented comfort, and powerful enough to keep to pre-arranged schedules, she was the prototype of the modern liner. Although, like many of Brunel's projects, she was unsuccessful in her intended role as that of a North Atlantic packet ship, Great Britain enjoyed a long and highly successful career once switched to the Australia run. During more than thirty years the ship carried thousands of passengers, many of them emigrants seeking a new life 'Down Under'. At times of national crisis the ship was also pressed into service as a trooper. For the majority, whether emigrant or soldier, sea travel was a novel and exotic experience, and a surprising number of Great Britain's voyagers recorded their impressions in letters home or journals passed on to their descendants. Every aspect of this curious world was found worthy of comment, from the food - including the livestock shipped to provide fresh meat and milk - to the onboard entertainment, not to mention the dubious and eccentric characters encountered. From this rich variety, Nick Fogg has fashioned a vivid depiction of shipboard life at a crossroad in history when the miseries of passaging under sail were giving way to the modern comforts that travelers now take for granted.
"'Panache and humour...distinguish every page of this marvellous book.' The Daily Mail"