The S.S. Great Britain splice

The S.S. Great Britain splice

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Round Table Conference  Rope Terminations and Fittings – Bethlehem 2001


ln 1838 when Isambard K. Brunel and Thomas Guppy set about designing the ship which was to become known as the S.S. Great Britain, Brunel seized upon the opportunity for technological advancement. ln addition to the ship being by far the largest designed to that date, she incorporated screw propulsion, and additionally was amongst the first ships to be rigged with iron wire rope. The application of iron wire rope to an innovative project of such magnitude obviously played a highly influential role in the subsequent adoption of wire rope standing rigging for ships all over the world. The original wire rope rigging on the Great Britain was significant not only because of the ship's importance, but also because the wire rope itself was involved in litigation between two fledgling British wire rope manufacturers of the era. This paper discusses the background behind the use of iron wire rigging, and describes the finding and examination of a contemporary splice discovered on a visit to the Great Britain at her current home in Bristol. An investigation has been made into the construction and efficiency of the splice, the results of which are presented here.


Author(s): D. Sayenga, R. Verreet & I.M.L. Ridge