On Easter Monday we went on a family day out to theSS Great Britain. Mike and I, having now lived in Bristol for many years have visited previously, although not for several years and since then there has been lots added including a new entrance/gift shop and the Brunel institute.
This was our first day trip as a new family of 4, with 16 month old Hayden and 4 week old Austin. I was a bit apprehensive about the logistics of getting around the ship and museum with the double buggy beforehand. However, I needn’t have worried as there was no part of the SS Great Britain that we couldn’t access thanks to several lifts and ramps throughout. There is also the option of leaving your pram behind the desks in the entrance/gift shop should that be more practical.
The staff were incredibly helpful, taking time when getting tickets to explain where different parts were located, where the lifts in particular were located, explaining the children’s Easter egg trail etc.
To begin with we headed to the meet the animals section located at the back of dockyard, a special attraction for Easter. Here they had a donkey, rabbits, guinea pigs, chicks and lambs for petting. Hayden really enjoyed being able to see and touch the animals up close.
We then headed back towards the ship, looking at dockyard. The dockyard is laid out as it would have been in the past with barrels and ropes, there is lots to see here including an original Victorian urinal which my husband found particularly interesting!
Next we decided that as Austin needed feeding, that a mid morning coffee and cake break was in order and so we headed to the dockyard cafe. The cafe is well equipped with high Chairs for little ones. Offered a good selection of cakes, coffees and more substantial hot and cold food including children’s lunchbox. I thoroughly enjoyed my latte and vegan banana cake whilst breastfeeding Austin. There is also an outside area with tables which overlooks the harbour and would be lovely when the sun is shining.
Next stop was the dry dock to look at the hull of the ship. It was very impressive to look at and really shows you the size and magnitude of the ship.
Access to the ship itself is via the museum. The museum is my husbands favourite part, learning about the history of the ship, the design of the engine etc. We didn’t spend loads of time in this part though, as Hayden was restless and a bit young to appreciate it. Although there is a fun section where you can dress up in historical clothes and have your picture taken.
I had forgotten how impressive the ship itself is. On the top deck of the ship there is lots to see to and do. There are great views of Bristol and the harbour to be had from the top deck. The end of Easter egg trail is also here, where you can collect your Easter egg from the treasure chest after finding all the escaped animals using the clues. This is great activity for children, unfortunately the boys were both a bit young to fully participate in this. Additionally there are model animals including chickens, pigs, cows to see, you can try your hand at scrubbing the deck and steering the Ships wheel. There is a new experience ‘Go Aloft’ where you can climb the rigging as a Victorian sailor would have, definitely one for thrill seekers, personally I gave it a miss as I’m really scared of heights!
Below decks there is even more to see, with interiors how they would have been in Victorian times. You can wander through the steerage accommodation, see the how the kitchens would have been (complete with rats!), through to the promenade deck. Then on to the lower deck where you can look at the engine room and the first class dining saloon. Below decks is my favourite part of the SS Great Britain, as you can really get a feel for how life would have been like for people on the ship in Victorian times, they even have relevant smells and sound effects to add realism to the experience!
We had a really great day out at the SS Great Britain, it has something for all ages to enjoy. Hayden’s favourite parts were the animal petting corner, the captains wheel on the top deck, looking the engine on the lower decks and the animals on deck in particular the cow!
I really look forward to making a return trip within the year (another positive as tickets are valid for a year!) By then Hayden will be walking more independently and will enjoy it even more!
If you are interested in visiting here is the link to the website. http://www.ssgreatbritain.org
Disclaimer: we received complimentary tickets in return for this review, but all views and opinions are my own.