Book Review – ‘The First Atlantic Liner: Brunel’s Great Western steamship’ by W. Mark Hamilton
Helen Doe has written a marvellous new book on the early years of transatlantic passenger traffic, with special reference to the Great Western steamship. Her examination is from the perspective of the cultural and social historian and not the technical maritime specialist, but the reader is informed of the numerous technical challenges of early steamship travel.
The Great Western became the first luxury transatlantic passenger liner in the world, and the fastest ship to cross the Atlantic. During its eight years as a transatlantic passenger ship, the Great Western faced competition from other steamship companies and from new ships built by the Great Western Railway. In 1845 the company’s newest steam-ship, Great Britain, was launched. An accident caused by a navigation error resulted in corporate financial distress and the sale of the Great Western.
Doe writes in an engaging manner with lots of details drawn from the passengers’ letters, diaries, and press articles of the period …