After the Great Western
and the Great Britain
, I. K. Brunel
went on to design his third and largest steamship, the Great Eastern
. This was a huge vessel of 18,915 tons gross register, the largest ship built before the 20th cent., with a cellular double hull and two sets of steam-engines, one driving paddle wheels and the other a screw. The construction of the ship, which took place on the Isle of Dogs opposite Greenwich, caused novel and formidable problems for Brunel and his partner—with whom he quarrelled severely—the shipbuilder John Scott Russell. She was launched sideways into the Thames in January 1858 and set out on her first trial voyage in September 1859. The Great Eastern
failed to establish herself as a successful passenger ship, but she performed a valuable service in laying the trans-oceanic cables across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. She was broken up at Birkenhead in 1888.
R. Angus Buchanan