Thornbury WI

OUR president Sue Horsfall welcomed more than 40 members and several guests to another enjoyable evening.

Our speaker this month was Ian Caskell who gave us a fascinating talk about the SS Great Britain.

Ian was born and bred on Merseyside and was a primary head teacher. He retired five years ago and joined the volunteers on the SS Great Britain. His talk was entitled from Launch to Relaunch.

She was a 19th century passenger ship and the first steamship to sail across the Atlantic. She combined screw propulsion with an iron hull and was designed by the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel who also designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

She first sailed from Liverpool to New York in July 1845 in a record 15 days. She was designed to carry 360 passengers in luxury and 130 crew and made several more trips across the Atlantic before running aground on the Irish coast where she was stranded for a year.

In 1850 gold was discovered in Australia and for the next 30 years she sailed between England and Australia. In 1882 she was converted to a cargo ship working around the Falkland Islands where she was used for storing Coal and a quarantine ship.

During World War I she supplied coal to British Ships and in World War II after she was scrapped on the Falkland Islands some of her iron was used for supplies to other ships.

In 1970 a second rescue attempt saw her cross the Atlantic floating on a huge floating pontoon pulled by tugs, to Bristol the place where she was built. To stop the corrosion of her hull the dry dock was sealed to cut down humidity by installing a glass plate.

At the museum you are taken through four different time zones with letters and diaries from crew and passengers and there are many interactive exhibits. You can explore the ship from the decks to the saloon from the galley to the engine.

There is something of interest for everyone. Keep your ticket it means you can return free of charge for a year.

We have several events to look forward to this month so please come along. We are always happy to welcome new members. We meet every third Tuesday of the month at The Methodist Church Hall at 7.30pm.