Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

SS Great Britain launches Go Aloft

Visitors to SS Great Britain in Bristol are invited to Go Aloft and climb the rigging

For those with a head for heights and a spirit of adventure, the SS Great Britain is offering a unique and dizzying experience.

From April 5, visitors will be immersed in the life of a 19th century sailor on board Isambard Kingdom Brunel's most famous ship.

Go Aloft allows thrill-seekers to don a harness and scale the rigging of the great ship, 89ft (27m) above the deck - giving breathtaking views of the city of Bristol.

They can then traverse the yardarm, which will take them 30ft (9m) out across the ship below, before returning safely to solid ground.

Go Aloft was officially launched yesterday by "Mr Brunel", played by Simon Strain, and the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Faruk Choudhury.

There was also a performance by acrobats from Cirque Bijou, who walked across a tightrope between two of SS Great Britain's six masts.

For those wishing to stay on deck, crew re-enactment volunteers will be on hand to bring the experience of being on board a 19th century passenger steam ship to life.

Rhian Tritton, director of conservation and education for the SS Great Britain Trust, said: "In everything we do we aim to take visitors back in time and show them what the conditions on board would have been like for passengers and crew alike.

"It would have been opulence and luxury for the first-class passengers, but scary and pretty dangerous for the hard-working crew.

"Although Go Aloft is an accurate representation of what they would have had to do, we're not making visitors climb the rigging in bare feet - they will be wearing a harness and sensible shoes at all times."

Go Aloft! has been supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Swire Charities and Trust's members.

Earlier this week, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced an initial £4.9 million grant towards a £7 million museum dedicated to Brunel.

Called Being Brunel, it will be built within the historic Great Western Steamship Company dockyard next to SS Great Britain and will give the public access to the famed engineer's collections for the first time.

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