Tuesday, September 21, 2004


150 Year-Old Rudder is Restored on Famous Ship


11:00 - 17 September 2004

The restoration of Brunel's ss Great Britain took another step forward when the ship's 150-year-old rudder was lowered into its new home. Workers inched the 16-tonne rudder into position next to the famous ship, where it will form the centrepiece of an interactive museum, expected to open next year.

It was bubble-wrapped for its own protection during the operation, which took months of meticulous planning and several days to carry out.The rudder and lifting frame, made in 1857, helped steer the Bristol-built ship for much of her sailing life, which in total covered one million nautical miles - the equivalent of 32 times around the world.

The lifting frame, one of the largest iron forgings of its time, was designed to maximise speed and reduce drag when the ship was under sail by lifting the propeller out of the water.In the three-day operation, which started on Monday and finished on Wednesday, the iron and wooden artefacts were taken down, placed in a stabilising cradle, and taken on a low loader for some 250 metres. A crane then lowered them between roof girders into their new resting place.Experts from Eura Conservation Limited managed the operation, which was watched by the ss Great Britain Trust's curatorial team.

Matthew Tanner, the trust's director, said: "It is important for us that we tell the ship's story well and this is why we are building a new museum including original artefacts and imaginative interactive displays next to the ss Great Britain."Director of Eura Conservation, Robert Turner, said: "The move was particularly difficult on account of the rudder's size and weight and also because it's very fragile.

"Dr Kate Rambridge, ss Great Britain Trust's interpretation manager, said: "This is really the first step in achieving one of the key interactives which will be part of our new museum. The lifting frame will be transformed into a huge interactive area, probably bigger than any seen in a museum in this country.

"By next May visitors will be able to step aboard the ship from the interactive museum via a gangplank linking the two.They will also be able to learn how to operate the rudder and steering through state-of-the-art technology.

The final rest.

See the unofficial web site, and the official.

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