SS Great Britain

Yesterday I visited the SS Great Britain with Hannah and her parents. None of us had been before, and we were treated to a sunny Spring day. The SS Great Britain was the first iron steamship with a propeller rather than paddles, and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Rose, me, Hannah and Arthur

The SS Great Britain is a grand ship, there’s no doubt about that. Unfortunately these days it has a fence around it so you can’t see in from outside, and you can’t get far enough away while inside the fence to take a picture of the whole ship – even with a wide angle lens.

View from the front of the ship

I was shooting black & white film and the grain of the pictures seemed to lend itself to weathered photos – mainly of the rusty hull and the engine room. The ship is in a dry dock and the underside of the hull is sealed from the environment with glass where the water level would have been. It’s kept at low humidity to prevent further corrosion to the fragile iron.

Pile of scrap

Shooting inside the engine room was also quite dark, and an ideal opportunity to try out my new fast lens – a Canon FD 50mm f/1.4. The original steam engine boasted a whopping (for the time) 1000 horsepower. These days, the machinery is turned over slowly by an electric motor so you can you the pistons, gears and shafts moving. These are all pictures of moving components.

Engine room
Engine room
Engine room

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