Sunday, December 24, 2006
Before heading back yesterday, we found time to visit Brunel's Great Britain in Bristol docks.
Last time I saw her, she was little more than a rusting hull with a replaced deck.
The transformation now is hugely impressive, particularly below, bringing back to life an icon of Victorian engineering.
The ship has contributed to the renaissance of Bristol docks in more ways than one. In 1970, when she was towed triumphantly up the Avon, she was placed in a dock that was on the line of one section of dual carriageway planned to crash through the western side of the city centre. Bristol City Council planned to create a series of "lagoons" in the docks area - little more than short-hand for filling them in with concrete after comprehensive demolition.
The return of the Great Britain helped convince the city that there was after all a future for the docks. The road plans were abandoned, and now the docks bring tens of thousands of visitors to the city every year.