SS Great Eastern: Launching the Leviathan

Is there a FROG member or anyone out there with interest/ aptitude in technical drawing? If so, we need to hear from you!

Reconstructing the Cradles used to Launch the SS Great Eastern

In January 2010 the TDP team identified the remains of two slipways on the Thames foreshore at Millwall. These were used in the infamous sideways-launch of the 700-foot-long ship the SS Great Eastern, in January 1859. We will be recording these remains during our fieldwork programme in mid-June 2010.

The hull of the ship was supported in two vast ‘cradles’, each some 120ft long: these timber-built cradles were then laboriously pushed and pulled down the slipways, inch by inch, until the vessel finally floated off on the high tide.
The slipways comprised a bed of concrete in which timber bearers were laid at c. 1m centres: a second level of timbers was laid over that at right angles, with (possibly) a third level over that. Onto this, were closely-spaced iron rails. We thinks we have enough evidence from the substantial fragments of the slipways that do survive to facilitate a reconstruction…

However, the timber cradles would require a little more thought: we would like to reconstruct them (on paper!) using such photographic evidence as we can, coupled with our new survey of the slipways and the brief notes recorded at the time of the launch (there are no surviving architects plans).

If you have a particular expertise in the areas of architectural or archaeological reconstruction/ technical drawing/ engineering background etc etc, and would like to be part of the TDPs Great Eastern re-Launch Project, PLEASE do get in touch.

We can provide further information, if you have the time/ expertise!!!