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View of the Great Eastern

The following details are from the new number of the Quarterly Review;-

It is said that ten water-tight bulk-heads, 60 feet apart, divide this leviathan ship transversely; whilst two longitudinally iron walls, 36 feet apart, traverse 350 feet of her length. If we could take Mivart's Hotel, and drop it into one of these; take Farrance's and drop it into the second; take Morley's, at Charing-cross, and fit it into the third; and adjust the Great Western Hotel, at Paddington, and the Great Northern, at King's-cross, into compartments four and five, we should get some faint idea of the accommodation to be afforded. Each compartment will be a distinct hotel, with its splendid saloons, upper and lower, of 60 feet in length, its bedrooms, its kitchen, and its bar. The 'big ship' is destined, be it remembered, to carry 800 first-class, 2000 second-class, and 1200 third-class passengers, making a total of 4000 guests, independently of the crew. The total length of the vessel will be 692 feet. To make the capacity of these figures better understood, it may be stated that neither Grosvenor nor Belgrave square could take the Great Eastern in; Berkeley-square would barely admit her, and when rigged her mizen-boom would project some distance up Davies-street, whilst her bowsprit, if she had one, would hang a along way over the Marquis of Lansdowne's garden. She is the eighth of a mile in length, and consequently four turns up and down her deck would afford the passengers a walk of a mile. Her width is 83 feet, the width of Pall-mall; across her paddle-boxes her breadth is 114 feet; and if she had to steam up Portland-place she would scrape the houses on each side. This floating town will be propelled by three powers—paddle, screw, and sail. Her paddle-wheels, fifty-six feet in diameter, or considerably larger than the circus at Astley's, will be propelled by four engines. The screw is twenty-four feet in diameter, and the four fans remind the spectator of the bladebones of some huge antediluvian monster. Its shaft is 160 feet in length, and weighs sixty tons. Thus the ship will be pulled and pushed in its course like an invalid in a Bath chair, and sails will only be used with a strong wind in the direction of her course—say a breeze going twenty-five miles per hour, for which she is prepared with seven masts and 6500 square yards of canvas. As speaking-trumpets would be useless aboard a vessel of the dimensions of the Great Eastern, a semaphore will be used to signal to the helmsman by day, and a system of coloured lights by night. The engineer will be communicated with by the electric telegraph. A standard compass will be placed upon a stage forty feet in height, and the helmsman will either read off the points through a transparent card, illuminated like a clock front, or the shadow of the needle will be projected down a long tube upon a card below, so as to avoid the necessity of the helmsman looking up, and to obviate the difficulty which would be felt in fogs. Her ten anchors will weigh 55 tons; her 800 fathoms of chain cable 98 tons; and her capstan and warps, 100 tons: total, 253 tons of appliances for making her fast. Gas will be manufactured on board, and laid on to all parts of the ship, and the electric light will be fixed at the masthead. The operation of launching will be as great a novelty as the vessel herself. Notwithstanding that her weight, when that moment arrives, will be no less than 12,000 tons, she is to enter the water broadside on, by means of an inclined plane, which is the reason why she is building parallel to the river.

SOURCE: The Illustrated London News, May 24, 1856